Monday, March 24, 2014

Finding Hope: Key to the Mind of the Resilient

Flowers on my “false” shamrock plant, a great reminder for me that Spring weather is coming soon, even when there is snow and wintry weather all around me.  

This week, I wanted to focus on finding hope during challenging times.  Like many of you may experience, the media and many other voices out there are screaming at us.  For the most part, the messages they are screaming are not positive, nor happy.  The focus, more often than not, is negativity, fear, corruption, anger, mistrust, and destruction.  For those of us with sensitive souls, these constant negative messages can be overwhelming and make us angry.  In order to keep ourselves from being completely depressed, we often just try to tune it all out.  We are always trying to “fight” some evil forces out there that are aimed at destruction, and this can wear us out on an emotional and spiritual level if we let it.  There is only so much negativity that the human soul can take, really.   

While there are plenty of terrible things going on in the world (and some of them certainly do need to be addressed, such as issues of social injustice, poverty, and environmental degradation), I believe that there are better ways to approach these issues, and still maintain your sanity and balance.  This is a journey that I am on myself, and I believe that you can be on the same journey as well. 

First of all, we must recognize that with every situation that we face, we can make a choice with how we are going to react and what we will focus on.  More often than not, many of us are on emotional autopilot, and our negative emotions far too often control us.  The key here is to become self-aware as to how we are reacting to a given situation, and to decide whether or not this negative reaction is worth our energy and our time.  Is it really as big a deal as it seems?  Are we just running on an emotional program that we are used to?  Is there another way to look at this?

Secondly, know that you can choose your media input.  For sometime now, I have decided to avoid watching the news (although admittedly, I still probably get way too much negative news from social media sources), since most of it is very negative, and very biased to the agendas that the networks want you to know about and think about (not to mention, spend on, with all of those commercials they broadcast).  And, at least for those of us in the United States, this news rarely focuses on much of anything going on outside of our own country. 

Thanks to social media and the internet, we now live in a world where we can have a lot more access to what’s going on just about anywhere in the world, so that we can be more informed citizens of Earth, and learn about things that are making a positive impact.  I want to encourage you to explore other avenues to get your news outside of all of the typical networks, and to focus on the wonderful, empowering, and positive things that are going on out there. 

I do believe that it is still important to be informed about what is going on in your community, but perhaps there are other ways to get that same information with a far less biased agenda.  Of course, every news source probably has some sort of agenda, but at least you can get a more balanced point of view if you are aren’t reliant upon one single news source telling you what you should think. 

Third, yes, there are many bad things going on in the world, but there are also plenty of good things going on too.  Abundant things…  Resilient things...  It’s all about what you choose to focus on.  What if the nightly news reported many more good things going on in our communities than bad things?  What if they told you more stories about people starting community gardens, helping the homeless, developing resilient local economies, and alternative green forms of energy, instead of all of the horrible things that happened that day?  It might inspire us to be more positive, loving, and trusting toward our fellow human beings, and know that we personally can make an impact. 

Fourth, all one needs to do is to look at nature to know that life is resilient.  There is hope.  For a brief moment, think about all of the environmental disturbance and human construction that we’ve built up during our recent human history.  Although there is still a lot of destruction that does exist, nature is always looking to find some way to help heal the land with whatever resources that are at hand.  This can even come in the form of weeds that are taking advantage of the new environment that is now open for them to grow in.  Many of these “weeds” are helping to hold the soil in place and prevent erosion, bring up nutrients and restore the soil, and in many cases are thriving where the native/non-invasive plant species aren’t doing so well anymore.      

I have always been amazed at the power of life that is contained within a single seed.  I have been reminded of that idea this week, as I have started my first batch of seeds for the upcoming garden season.  From one tiny seed, a huge plant can grow, and that one plant will produce many more of its own seeds.  This is a great metaphor for the power that we have as individuals to make a difference in the world.  Every positive action that we take can have a ripple effect, and it can have a positive impact on many other people.  How we choose to spend our money or not to spend our money, the food that we choose to eat, if we choose to garden and our gardening methods, the values that we pass on to our children, the words that we say, the prayers we pray, and so much more, can have positive impacts on the world, even on future generations.  The skills that you learn and when you start making things yourself can also empower you in your own life, and you can then help to empower others as you learn more and can teach them those skills.  This is powerful, and this is very hopeful. 

To become resilient in the face of changes, we need to focus on what we can do as individuals and to become personally empowered.  Know that your actions and the choices that you make really do make a difference, whether or not you see the immediate impacts.  There is hope my friends.  Will you choose to embrace it and make it yours? 

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