I have been feeling overwhelmed and powerless the past few months by all the anger, violence, and hatred in the news. The problems feel so big, well beyond my capacity to do anything meaningful to make a difference. I became irritated, short-termpered and wasn’t sleeping well.
Rather than focusing on the big events, I decided to shift my focus to living my best simple life every day for the next 30 days. At first, it felt like denial, escaping from the “tragedy of the day”, or I was becoming uncaring and out of touch.
I made a few conscious consistent changes in my everyday activities to see what happened.
1. I meditate (almost) every morning. I signed up for and use the Calm app. Ten minutes of trying to focus my mind on my breath. Mind wanders, I bring it back to the breath. Mind wanders again, I come back to my breath. In. Out. In. Out. Feel the breath. Simple, but definitely not easy! Ten minutes of being present.
2. I go outside every morning to walk or run for about 45 minutes. Sometimes headsets with a favorite inspiring podcast or music. Other mornings, I simply see and listen to the day waking up in the neighborhood.
3. I make a short must-do list of 3 things to do each day and then do them. That’s it. If I do more great, but at least I get these done.
4. On my daily calendar, I also write down 1-2 words to reflect on for that day. Words like Peace. Kindness. Courage. Happiness. I think of the words like a mantra, reflect on them and try to weave them into my daily thoughts and actions.
5. Most days, I meet with a friend over coffee, glass of wine, or a meal to share a real-time, in-person (or on phone if necessary) conversation. No distractions. Unhurried. Sharing. Listening. Laughing.
6. I eat good healthy food, drink enough water during the day, and go to bed earlier in order to get at least 7 hours sleep.
7. I read more, but very selectively….mostly books now (fiction and non-fiction) and very little news media.
8. I have avoided social media and no longer scroll through it mindlessly when I’m bored. I allow myself many more quiet moments. (Read Digital Minimalism, by Cal Newport for so many compelling reasons why.)
So, after a month, here’s what have I noticed
I have become far more aware of all that is good in the world. I actually feel more present and less distracted. The quiet beauty in nature is all around us. It soothes my soul and relaxes me.
I notice and appreciate the courtesy, generosity and thoughtfulness from friends and strangers throughout the day.
Not feeling I’m in such a rush, I think I am kinder and I seem to find small ways to help others. I attribute this to my being better rested, nourished and more receptive to life around me.
Feeling more connected with friends and family, I think the conversations have been deeper and mutually insightful. While we may not agree on everything, we all can find common ground in our humanity and life experiences. Face to face time with another person is essential to our wellbeing as individuals and as a global community.
I have seen so many examples of good, happy, caring people everywhere sharing kindness and love. The young hair stylist who recently made a home visit to her longtime 98 year old client in failing health; a retired teacher who became a “guest reader” in a first grade class; and a woman who put together a schedule of helpers for meals, driving and other tasks for a friend with cancer.
And lastly, I am more appreciative and hopeful about the world and the people in it. I know that if good acts are happening here, they are happening everywhere, in small and often bigger ways. They just don’t make the headlines.
I can’t change the headlines, but I can, along with so many others, helpe make the world a better place quitely, once kind act at a time.