Cross-posted at: medium.com/the-mindful-journeyman
There's so much noise out there these days--breaking news, politics, tweets, live streams, comment sections--and while it's important to stay aware of the frightening changes happening in our world, sometimes it can all become too much. The noise is like a sky full of clouds, so thick and menacing they block out the sun. The more time you spend in their cold shadow, the less you remember the warmth, what it feels like, that it even exists.
Find a balance. Wade into the the clouds and stay engaged, but not so much that you enter a tropical depression. Remind yourself to go outside and bask in the sun more often than less, communing with friends, nature, and love.
In these times of conflict and uncertainty, we owe it to ourselves, and to our cause, to keep both our awareness and our sanity intact for the battles ahead.
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Cross-posted at: medium.com/the-mindful-journeyman
I'm angry. I've been angry since the election. In fact, my anger has only grown since then.
A lot of you are also angry, I know because you've told me. Opinions polls show an historic majority of this country is angry too. I’m not even talking about a difference of political opinion either, that we’ll just set aside. It’s every disparaging tweet, every absurd conflict of interest, every self serving position, every unqualified nominee that sparks a tiny bit more rage in my soul. If you're not angry--if you’ve been watching all this ridiculousness go down and you’re totally cool with it--that kind of makes me angry too.
So I get it, but also I know it’s time to move forward. Anger alone is dangerous. It’s time to turn that anger into action.
Pure unadulterated anger leads to depression and retreat. Anger sops you of your energy and creative passion. It leads to disengagement, to cruelty, to the very bad behavior we abhor in our new leader. It leads to lost friendships and lost opportunities for understanding. It leads to hopelessness.
Anger can inspire a host of other passions, but by itself it’s the first step towards a meaningless life. Anger can solidify your ideals, but as a stand alone it’s the first line of a losing argument. Anger can lead you into a more positive future, but if you let it hold you back it takes you nowhere.
Don’t let anger drain your drive.
Don't let anger cut you off from the world.
Don’t let anger crush your hope.
Use that anger inspire action. Let it push you to make signs and take to the streets. To support the organizations and local campaigns that can make a difference. To always stand up and speak out to the cruel and unjust.
Use that anger to inspire community. Let it lead to the comfort found in like-minded, progressive solidarity. Let it create more connection and understanding toward everyone else in the world, especially those with whom you disagree. In the end, those connections are what will forge the path of progress.
Use that anger to inspire optimism. Let it bring your spirit of activism to life. Even as society seems to regress towards fear and hate, let the beacon of light that leads to a better future start with you.
It's ok to be angry, but in the end the only way to move forward in life is to do something with that anger. We grow a community through kindness. We grow kindness with hope. We grow hope through direct and sustained action.
When you waste all your time in anger you won't have any room left for love, and love always wins in the end.
There's a dangerous passivity encouraged by the “power of positive thinking.”
Cross-posted at: medium.com/the-mindful-journeyman/the-power-of-doing
We’ve all heard of the “power of positive thinking”. It’s this idea that your destiny is controlled by your state of mind. Think a few happy thoughts and boom!, you’re happy.
There are multiple variations on this theme. Create a vision board to imagine an amazing future and boom!, the future becomes amazing. Meditate everyday and boom!, you have mindfulness in spades. Raise your arms in the air like you won a race one minute before an interview and boom!, you win and you’re hired (seriously, that’s a thing).
I’m here to say, no. No to all of that.
Thoughts are just that, thoughts. By definition they are only in your mind. They can be powerful forces to guide your life into happiness and success, but not by themselves. The only way for your thoughts to effect the actual world you live in is for you to do one very critical thing: act on them.
There’s a dangerous passivity encouraged by this theory of the power of positive thinking. It gives us the impression that we can sit back, imagine our ideal life, and if we wish for it hard enough it we’ll watch it magically unfold.
But that ideal life isn’t created by imagination, it’s created by doing. It’s built up over a series of difficult decisions and decisive actions. It’s a slowly visualized rainbow that is made up of the darkness failure, the light of success, and a thousand of gradients of unexpected color in between.
Our thoughts and ideas are definitely important. Meditation, daily affirmations, setting an intention, thinking through the tough decisions in life, and thinking through our response to those around us, they are the foundation of our betterment. But ultimately, a simple idea is useless if we never put it into practice. Our life is realized when we build a structure on that foundation. And our happiness is determined by what we build.
Or in short: what truly matters most isn’t what you think, it’s what you do with that thought.
So use the power of your mind all you want. Ponder the meaning of life, brainstorm it, vision board it, talk to friends you trust, hire a life coach, whatever. But don’t stop there. Make a plan. Make multiple plans. Take action. See it through. Life will not be handed to you on a silver platter just because you dream up a silver platter. Your life is created by you.