In the age of information overload, it may seem impossible to fully absorb and process everything that’s happening around us. But mindfulness and deliberate focus can be your savior.
We are bombarded with a 24 hour news cycle whether or not we even turn on the television. Social media feeds update faster than we can read them. Social issues are percolating all around us, many of which seem to be reaching a boiling point simultaneously. We find ourselves saddened and outraged and driven to action but confused about where to direct that action.
How can we even begin to make sense of it all?
I’ll say something that you probably already know: This is not a new condition of the human experience. Every generation before us has had their trials and tribulations. Some more intense, some less.
This, though. This is one hell of a time to be alive.
2020 has quickly become a pivotal and transformative time in human history. Entire countries locked down from a global pandemic. The murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd all happened before we could even process the previous one. Riots. Protests. Cities burning.
We immediately went from total isolation to hundreds of thousands gathering in the streets in the blink of an eye, almost as if the past three months never even happened.
And, it’s an election year in America.
There must be a glitch in the matrix.
First, take a breath.
Stand back and take a look at everything going on around you. Acknowledge it, asborb it, see it. Do not avoid it or look away, as tempting as it may seem. Watch the videos, listen to the voices, step out of your comfort zone and understand what is truly happening.
The world has always been unjust, those in power have always been corrupt, the stories we are told have always been swayed in the favor of the victor. But we’ve never before had cell phone cameras and internet connections and direct lines of communication to billions of other people.
This time we can see the truth for ourselves.
As you observe what’s happening in the world around you, pay attention to the issues that touch your soul on a deeper level. Which of the countless injustices enrage you the most? Where do you feel the most empathy or compassion? Where do you feel called to make the biggest difference?
This will help you focus in on what is calling you to a higher purpose and where you can use your voice to bring about change.
Next, start small.
None of us can change the world by ourselves, and I think this realization stops many people from even trying. “What difference will it even make?”
The world was never changed by those who valued comfort over progress. The willingness to first speak out against injustice is how we begin moving forward into action and impact. Do not be afraid to share your opinions and viewpoints, now is the time we must be vocal about what we believe.
If you’re reading this right now it means you have an internet connection, and if you have an internet connection it means you have access to social media, and if you have social media that means you have a voice.
It doesn’t matter if you have 100 followers or 1,000,000 followers, you have a platform that you can use to speak up. We cannot be silent while people are murdered in the streets. We cannot be silent while rights and protections are being stripped from our brothers and sisters. We cannot be silent while the world literally burns around us.
By showing the world what you believe in, you are positioning yourself to begin finding those in your tribe and becoming part of a bigger movement.
Look for the good.
My parents have always taught me to look for the people who are helping in times of need. You’ll see communities stepping up, people helping each other, the best of humanity emerging from the worst.
What you look for, you will find.
The world hasn’t gone mad — it’s always been mad. Many of us have just been unwilling to see it for what it really is. Now, it’s being stripped bare in front of us. But, that doesn’t mean the beauty goes away.
By finding those who are helping we can uncover even more opportunities to join the movement and elevate the cause. Look for the beacons and navigate your ship towards them.
Channel your energy.
How do you best express yourself? I [obviously] write, speak, create video content, and engange in conversation.
By doing so it allows me to ‘aim the firehose’ so to speak. With all of the thoughts swirling around in my head I need to find a way to organize them. So, I write and speak.
Some use art, some use music, some create memes. No matter what it is for you, find a theraputic way to move your thoughts from your mind to the world. It will help you keep control of where your energy is focused.
Acknowledge multiple things at once.
This one is diffiult but it is necessary. Just a few short weeks ago, the only thing anyone was talking about was a global pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people across the world.
Today, there is almost no mention of it in public discourse. Obviously, that doesn’t mean it magically disappeared.
Our short attention spans and hyper-quick news cycles have accelerated the concept of ‘out of sight, out of mind.”
Needless to say, something being out of mind doesn’t mean it no longer exists. We must practice making space for a range of information and not just dart from one to the other, or we will make decisions that don’t account for all relevant circumstanc
Find opportunities to help.
Not everyone has the time, platform, or resources to make a global impact. But everyone can do something like paying for the coffee of the person behind you in line, or holding that door just a little longer, or showing genuine appreciation to a person in the service industry.
Think about the ongoing craziness of the world that we’ve discussed here, and imagine the impact a small act of kindness would have on someone who’s feeling the weight of it all.
By showing kindness to that one person, you can start the spread of light throughout an entire community without even realizing it. Looking for those opportunities will always be worthwhile.
Celebrate the wins.
Here’s a hard truth: There will always be more work to be done. It does not matter what cause you’re supporting or where you’re focusing your energy, life is not linear.
There is not a starting line and a finish line. Many of the issues we’re fighting today are the same exact issues our parents and grandparents (and those before them) have fought for. Yes, progress has been made, but if we are waiting for a destination we will always be left disappointed.
In many areas of life, people deprive themselves of celebrating the wins because there’s so much further to go. But if we fall into this pattern, we lose sight of what we have actually accomplished.
We must stop and acknowledge even the smallest of victories. This keeps us grateful and focused. It reminds us that what we’re doing is actually making a difference, and that if we continue, we can aim even higher.
Always stay true to your identity and purpose.
All of my work focuses around this. Identity and purpose. Anyone who works with me directly knows how obsessively I utilize these words because they quite literally define us as humans.
What is your identity? What is your purpose?
By gaining clarity around this we feel an even deeper connection to the causes we are called to support. They are a piece of us. They are tied to our identity and our purpose draws us to take action in their favor.
Imagine yourself as a giant pillar, rooted by your purpose into the ground. The world is swirling around you like a hurricane. Winds of injustice try to knock you over. Dispair and disappointment chip away at your sides. Injustice and corruption dig at your roots.
But, as each day passes, you remain immovable and strong, because the roots of your identity and purpose give you the strength to maintain your position, your values, your beliefs, your integrity.
Every day you act in accordance with your most deeply rooted values is a day you can reflect on and know you’ve done all you could to move the world forward.
Contribution to a meaningful cause will always serve as our light in the darkness.