How to Be the Change in a World that’s Suffering
Many of us are dedicated to watching or reading up on the world’s horrific current events. Time and again, the news sets a depressing tone that is in many ways difficult to not take personal. And with so much suffering, it’s like we’re hypnotized to believe we are limited in our capacity to heal the world. But the thing is, we do have the power to change things. Starting with our own experience, we can shift the way we relate to suffering altogether. By this, I’m talking about being the example. “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” -Dalai Lama.
6 Tips for Releasing the burdens of our world while being an active participant in its recovery:
1. Have Compassion
2. Get savvy on a Specific Cause
3. Loosen Your Grip
4. Turn off the Tube
5. Engage with Uplifting Peeps/Activities
6. Practice What You Preach
1. “Hold yourself as a mother holds her infant” -Buddha. How you handle your own suffering impacts the way you hold space for others. Break free from the weight of the world to check that both feet are on the ground...how’s the quality of your health, mentality, spirit/energy, and intentions? Be clear and know what you have control over...what serves you in being centered and whole is going to help you to not absorb the world’s suffering.
2. Study a specific cause that pulls your heart strings. Maybe this is the people of Sudan fighting for justice. Maybe this is the parents at our borders fighting to reunite with their children. Maybe it’s the democracy and rights of women in our country. Let whatever it is serve a purpose to explore and study from all different angles. Without judgement, try to see all sides of the situation. If you are moved, write to your government, send donations, participate in movements/rallies that support this cause.
3. Notice how strong you hold onto your beliefs and values about the world’s suffering and try to slightly loosen your grip. “Approach the game with no preset agendas and you’ll probably come away surprised at your overall efforts.” -Phil Jackson. It’s important to have a purpose you strive towards to alleviate suffering without being attached to how this will evolve or manifest. Come from a place within your potential, greater Self. It is a practice of shifting the tone. Notice how you speak about suffering. Is your grip tight and coming from a place of resistance (defensive and eager for change)? Or is your grip loose, leaning towards openness and curiosity, inviting debate and progression?
4. Turn off the news (if you watch/read it). “If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace.“ -John Lennon. Take a break from the habitual itch to stay “updated and informed” by the media. This includes sharing it on social media. Try to take a pause in what you are getting out of the daily news and how it serves you when you share it with others whether virtually or in person. How is watching or talking about the news serving you? How is watching/talking about it not serving you? Use this break to contemplate your involvement in this world separate from the experience and stories of others.
5. Engage with uplifting friends and good times that remind you to laugh and have fun. Seriously, have some fun. Take yourself on a date, go watch a hilarious movie or read an inspiring book. Do something that you love and that involves good people! You deserve a to laugh! “Humor helps us get through life with a modicum of grace. It offers one of the few benign ways of coping with the absurdity of it all.” -Diane Keaton.
6. Practice what you preach. You want justice and democracy? You want a better world? You want to help others feel better, love better, have better lives? Be the example and show them how it’s done by practicing on yourself. Have at least a go-to person who reminds you how to reclaim the power of your word and how to use it to literally change the way you perceive and experience suffering. Maybe this mentor is an amazing author like Pema Chödron, or Paulo Coalho. Or maybe it’s someone who has overcome adversities such as Bethany Hamilton or Victor Frankl. Let these people remind you that you are in control. You have power over your thoughts and emotions, words and actions. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” -Mahatma