Wow. So many things, good but predominately bad, have been happening in the world today. I have devoted this blog to being a place of light in all this darkness but I feel I would be doing any readers a disservice if I didn’t provide the information I have about how to make it through the day when all this is going on.
We don’t live under rocks and know matter how hard we try to look away from the suffering around us and stay positive, it will find us.
Whenever I think of that, I remember the story of the Buddha and the beggar at the gates. Suffering can’t be “ignored” we must see it, but we must also learn to live through it, making the world a better place.
All this negative news and stress can be paralyzing and we can feel overwhelmed and sad. I know I have felt that. However, we can’t give in. We must remain beacons of light. After all…
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
Below are 13 ways to get through the day and keep your light shining.
(P.S. I’m no expert. I just found some things to be really helpful and backed by some science. I know this because I have anxiety disorder and these are some practices recommended to me quite frequently. I also threw in some of the grounding/centering techniques I use in my spiritual practice, often as a way to help heal myself after some empathic fallout.)
- Think of all the positives in your life.
You made excellent time getting to work. You ate a yummy dinner. You’re getting closer to that house or promotion or wedding. Positives in life, no matter how tiny they may seem, keep us going. You’re in a great relationship and that person is always there for you. You end a bad chapter in life and get to look forward to a new one. You love going on walks or exercising, or sex, you love smelling the flowers, you love reading books, or you’re going traveling. These things, whatever motivates you, are tools in your arsenal in the fight to stay positive.
2. Seek out fun times.
Fun is absolutely vital. Stream old episodes of your favorite childhood TV show or your favorite comedy. Take a bad news vacation and set aside the social media for a bit. Let yourself talk about something else, something positive, for a while. Get out of your head and let go of worry for a bit. Find an activity that you completely love and do it. Read a book, paint, write, play a video game, go for a walk. I love to be out in nature and the joy I get from the sun and the earth help me to ground after a particularly rough day. Sitting under a tree and imagining your own roots reaching deep into the ground and your consciousness reaching up like branches is a tried and true grounding technique. You can even try giving that old tree a big hug, if it seems willing.
3. Create more good.
Creating more good in this world is a great way to remind yourself that positivity and light are out there. Plus, they create good! The world can always use more of that. A gardening project or volunteering at a shelter will do something real and measurable to help those who need it. Go out there and get your hands dirty.
4. Do good works with your crew.
Reaching out to your friends and family to get them involved in projects can help to create even more change and give them a positivity boost too. Great changes are made in small steps. Everything we can do together to send out love and light will work to end the darkness.
5. Interact with those of a different background.
Solutions created when different people work together, with input from diverse communities, will be well-rounded, inclusive solutions. Representation is key. Our voices are different and that is what makes each one of them important and beautiful. By joining all these different notes together we can create massive symphonies of revolution and joy. Plus, the ideas and solutions presented when we work together could never have been formed if we only ever listened to those of like mind. Stronger together, than alone, with flexibility, complexity, new growth, and tenacious vision.
6. Pursue new opportunities and friendships.
Relationships change. People often find themselves getting more and more uncomfortable in old relationships when those involved are growing in different directions. These relationships can grow together and change to fit in new views, but sometimes they don’t. I’ve had to do this myself and it’s never fun to move on out of a relationship with a close friend, or even partner. In the long run though, this ending provides a new beginning and a place to find yourself engaging with people who truly understand you and don’t fill your day with negativity. When there’s less to fight against each day to stay positive, you feel more refreshed and can use your energy for other things. Keep in mind that all relationships require commitment and work to foster and maintain, but this is hard work that can be a lot of fun.
7. Choose your battles.
I want to do it all. I want to right every wrong, have every discussion, battle every act of prejudice I see or hear about. I want to change the world and I want to do it today. This is not possible. I only have so much time. And so do you. We can’t do it all, not in one day. Maybe not in one lifetime. So we need to choose the battles that mean the most, can cause the most good, and pursue those while leaving the others for another day. I know I am often guilty of thinking, “how can I sit here in the office and be happy about getting a home or going to a movie when so many have so much less?” But these moments of happiness were earned through hard work and keep me going. I’m sure you can say the same. You deserve happiness too. So with the time and energy we have left in the day, we can go deep, instead of wide. We can commit to one or a few tasks and do them completely and thoroughly. And when we have done those, we can add more as we can handle it.
8. Only take on what you can actually do.
This goes hand in hand with number 7. We only have so much energy and this is especially true if you have a physical or mental health condition which requires energy just to maintain it. I personally feel this is very, very true for pain/invisible illnesses. I have to go on with my day, even though I just had a panic attack a little bit ago. Such is life. People with fibromyalgia have to go to work even though they are dealing with a lot of pain. These types of situations are also not perceivable and a great deal of energy is spent just being patient with yourself and those around you who can’t see that you are dealing with something. This all takes energy and only so much is left over. We shouldn’t take on more than that time which is left over, and truthfully even less than that because we need to leave time to heal ourselves and rest. I said it before, I want to change the world now, but if I’m broken and tired I’m not going to change anything. Leave time to rest and recuperate. You are a priority too. Heal yourself, than heal the world.
9. Self-care is essential.
Falling apart happens, a lot. Learning to let this go and not holding on to frustration and negativity can both reduce how often this happens and make it less severe when it does. Remind yourself why you are doing this hard work. Remember the times when you succeeded. Don’t hold in stress and anger. Let it out in a healthy way instead of bottling it all up and waiting for it to explode. Additionally, remember that your body needs love and time in order to keep performing at its best. Sleeping, eating, working or going to school, and tending to your relationships are musts, just as much as changing the world is. The healthier and better you are, the better your work out in the world, the more positivity you can create. You must be strong enough to carry these tasks so feed your mind, body, and spirit to the fullest.
10. Your health isn’t just for you.
Your parents, siblings, lovers, friends, students, teachers, spouses, family need you and want you to do well. If they’re worried about you it’s probably for a good reason. If you can’t always put yourself first for your own reasons, do it for them. Your circle of people will do better when you are at your best to support them.
11. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Occasionally, we fail, we fall down, we forget things we shouldn’t. Everybody working for change or a big cause has at one time let the cause come before their basic needs. That’s when we need help getting back to neutral. This is not something to feel guilt or shame about. These things happen. We are after all only human. Ask for help and take it gratefully when you get it.
12. Cultivate compassion.
Be understanding and compassionate to all those around you. To those who are on the other side, who haven’t woken up, or to those who just don’t want to know. To those who trying their hardest, maybe landing short of the mark. Which by the way is everyone. Express compassion often and don’t forget yourself.
13. Stay alive.
On some days and in some situations, this can be the only goal. In these moments when staying alive seems like all the work in the world, know without a shadow of a doubt that waking up each day, still breathing, still fighting, is a triumphant victory.
If you need serious help, contact To Write Love On Her Arms or a local counselor. Reaching out to members and followers of the Always Keep Fighting campaign, led by Jared Padalecki, can also provide a community of much needed support. Remember, getting help is not a sign of weakness. Knowing yourself enough and contacting a professional is one of the most profound acts of sheer bravery you can ever perform.
Light and Love