Continuing from my blog post yesterday titled The Importance of Feeling What You Feel… and Being at Peace With It, there were a couple of nuggets of wisdom in there that I would like to highlight. We are all feeling some level of uncertainty these days with Coronavirus, the state of affairs in our political systems in the US and many other places around the world and the innumerable problems our planet and its species are facing. Life as we knew it has changed and who knows when or if it will ever return to what it was. Uncertain times.
To those of us who rely more heavily on the illusion of certainty, these times can make us feel anxious, even those not usually prone to anxiety. The holes in the veil have been made visible. The compounding of events makes us feel heavy under the weight of life piling up on us. Swimming in the problems of the day can make us feel hopeless. But how do we limit our attention while still being informed? Ignorance may be bliss but it’s this same incognizance that has led us into nearly every crisis we’re currently facing. So how do you have hope? How do you find joy in these uncertain times or is it our moral imperative to live by the news and contemplate our demise? For those who wish to find joy:
1. Limit your exposure.
It is important to be informed but better to listen to actual experts in the field for whatever you want to know. The news is polarized by political extremity and corruption on both sides. Social media is as well. Agencies who are searching for solutions are a better bet. Coronavirus-> medical experts and the CDC, ocean cleanup-> scientists, etc. And limit the amount of time per day that you are exposed to all that needs a solution.
2. Do your part.
Whatever you feel called to do, there’s an organization doing it. I recently joined the League of Women Voters because this is an election year and the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote. It’s not so much that I had spare time to fill, as much as I felt the need to do my part to achieve the change I want to see.
3. Practice mindfulness.
In yesterday’s post I talked about living in the present moment. I have this day right here to notice the beauty of the flowers in my backyard and to listen to the varied bird songs. And to breathe deep. And if I get another day tomorrow, I will stay present in it. Wonder is the antidote to worry.
4. Build your connection.
According to Brene Brown, “connection is why we’re here.” In this time of social distancing, we can feel more isolated than normal. Introverts need connection too. Connect with old friends, stay connected with family via text and zoom (if that’s your thing), and hang out online. However you can, do continue to reinforce and build your connection to other like-minded humans.
Three and four are the two nuggets to which I referred at the beginning. Gratitude works great as well but sometimes when we feel hopeless, gratitude doesn’t lift us out of despair. Mindfulness and connection may work better for you. Focus on the good in the day.
“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.”
– Henri Matisse
That’s one of my favorite quotes because it reminds me to find balance and be mindful. Mindfulness creates an inner calm that ameliorates the uncertainty. In the absence of that anxiety you can clearly remember that you have faced uncertainty before. Challenges too. And you have survived if not thrived through all of it. And you shall this time as well.
5. Get creative.
Give yourself a new beginning born out of this uncertainty and challenge. Reinvent yourself, invest in yourself. Let your mind have a go and do not strangle it with what is practical, logical or possible. If ever there was something in front of us suggesting we get unentrenched in old ways, a pandemic is it. You can’t feel hopeless if you give yourself something to look forward to.
Life is precious. It really is. There is always uncertainty in life. We may have more uncertainty now than we usually do, but there are never any guarantees from one day to the next that will continue tomorrow as it did today. A diagnosis, accident, job loss, death can change life in an instant. In fact, birth and death are the only certainties. Everything else is some shade of unpredictable. And if we weren’t frightened by that notion, we might be excited by it.