Being a Force For Good

The news has become pretty daunting lately, and lots of people feel helpless to do anything about it. We feel scared, worried and anxious about the future; and no one is telling us everything will be okay, and if they did, we wouldn’t believe them anyway.

The challenge is in keeping cool and maintaining calm, despite feeling like you have no control over anything. Lots of people these days are having exacerbations of their depression and anxiety because of current events, and some become obsessed with watching minute to minute updates on hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, violence and the ever-divisive politics. If you can relate, challenge your self to turn off the TV, for a while anyway.

When the world seems out of control, what can you do to cause even an infinitesimal change? I have friends, who write letters and make calls to their congressmen, and I have done that too; but when results aren’t apparent, it becomes disheartening. Making your voice heard is always empowering, but when outcomes don’t go as hoped, what’s the next step? Is there anything you can do to become a force for good?

When you think of all the opportunities we have every day to be kind, reach out, move outside our private spheres and change someone’s life for the good, it makes you realize that we do have power, if only within our personal universes. I know it’s possible because I have been changed; by people’s kindness in times of grief, by random loving acts that have made me stop, draw in a breath of amazement and smile. My heart has been healed by the generosity of loving people. When we go back to basics, that golden rule we learned as kids really is the powerful tool that makes a difference.

Someone just gave me this quote: “You can’t calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself…this storm too, will pass.”

Maintaining the sense of inner calm, or that lovely image of equanimity, is like finding your balance on a rocking ship; we shift our weight from left to right and back again to compensate for the storm. Our own personal ballast is what allows us to remain standing throughout the difficulties. When we practice these simple behaviors and become the patient one on a line full of angry customers, or the one who smiles at others in times of high stress, it causes a ripple effect that goes beyond our shortened view.

We need to remember our abundant blessings, even when we are suffering illness or heartache. Focus is everything; we are either dissatisfied with life or appreciative of our many gifts. Did you know that, “If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back and a roof over your head you are richer than 75% of the world’s population. If you have money in the bank, your wallet and some spare change, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.” When you think about it in these terms, doesn’t it seem like it’s our responsibility to practice generosity, in whatever measure you deem appropriate?

Becoming that force for good is what will change the world; person by person, one by one, individual by individual. Keep the hope strong, it’s what will encourage you every day. Let’s encourage each other.

Amy Martin