This is long. I ramble. I tell stories. I over punctuate. Get used to it ;)
I was asked this morning about my thoughts on the divisiveness in the world today and how it could ever be fixed. I had never thought of this question but I gave my answer right away without hesitation. We need to look inside and fix our own issues that we have with ourselves, then we will start not being angry at others.
There's an old lesson that's been around in one form or another for many generations. I like Kemi Sogunle's version the best from his book "Beyond the Pain": "If you don't love yourself, you won't be happy with yourself, you can't love anyone else. You can't give the love you do not have. You can't make anyone love you without loving yourself first." People today just seem flat out angry! Somebody gets cut off in their car and it somehow ends in an altercation or worse. Somebody doesn't agree with how somebody is treated so they burn down buildings. Somebody doesn't like a public figure's message so they vandalize property and physically attack each other. People are literally fighting anger with anger. That's a path and a direction that will be increasingly difficult to change, and it's a scary one because it can literally destroy the world. It has already come close to destroying cities.
The person that gets cutoff in their car, or gets in a fight at their child's sporting event, do you really think they're THAT mad at that person? They got in their car as a happy and stable person that morning, somebody made a mistake, or didn't see them, and that's enough to get out of their car and snap to the point to ending that person's life and ruining their own? Ruining their family? No. That is a built up kind of anger that was like a powder keg overflowing with gunpowder, just waiting for a tiny spark to explode. In 2019 when my wife was battling cancer, I put my fist through more than one wall. I broke my foot in 5+ places by kicking a closed door barefoot as hard as I could. It always happened after a phone call with doctors. I wasn't that mad at that particular phone call, I was mad at the entire situation, the entire year, all of it, it built up and had no choice but to explode.
What I should have been doing in 2019 instead of periodically damaging my own property and body...was looking inside and working on me. I have come to not like the word meditation because it immediately and unfairly turns so many people off when you say it; you lose their attention right away and you can see and feel the eye roll. There's a reason meditation has been around for at least 7,000 years and probably a lot longer: it works. There's a reason so many people roll their eyes at it and refuse to even try it: it's hard, it's "boring", and frankly, it sucks. I practice it almost every day, I hate it, I never look forward to it, it actually is hard for some people (that's why it's called practice). Those aren't the reasons people don't like it though, the real reason is that there is scary shit in our own heads! Nobody likes to be alone with their thoughts, it's terrifying! We look at our phones, we read articles, we watch cats nodding on YouTube, we play mindless games, we turn on the tv, we turn on music, we use alcohol or drugs, we do anything at all to avoid being alone with the dumpster fire in our head.
Those thoughts are happening all the time without us realizing it, sure we consciously say things in our head sometimes that we pay attention to, but even when we aren't paying attention, it's happening. It's often referred to as self talk and numerous other terms. But those thoughts are happening every second of the day. The only way to change them, is to acknowledge them, listen to them, and deliberately change them. Changing them involves using affirmations of what you want the self talk to be saying, over and over again, consistently, daily. Again, not the most exciting activity. These affirmations though, are proven to 100% change your self talk, which changes your emotions, which change your attitude, which changes how you react to situations. Negative self talk leads to negative emotions and a negative attitude and that is why we scream when somebody doesn't see us when they're driving. We're just dying to find an outlet to release some of those emotions and damnit, that jerk without a turn signal was asking for it!!!
If I had spent a few minutes every day during 2019 telling myself that we were doing everything we could, that the doctors were doing everything they could, that we were strong, that we were fighting, that we were still happy, that we had a lot to be grateful for, etc... I would have been a lot happier and my right foot wouldn't hurt each time it's about to rain. We're not angry at each other, we're angry at ourselves, we're emotionally broken, and it's hard to fix it. When you're fat, you don't just become skinny. It takes difficult, consistent, tedious, repetitive work. But the results from exercise and healthy eating are clear; you can see them, you can feel them, and it's so worth it. The same is true with our emotions and our self talk; they are out of shape, and they need work.
Several years ago Chris Pratt gave an interview about getting in shape for Guardians of the Galaxy and he makes an awesome point. He seemingly changed overnight from an overweight actor playing goofy and lazy roles to an action star in incredible physical shape. It took him 8 months to go from the fat lazy guy to the ripped action star. When asked if it was hard he said it seemed extremely difficult in that moment. But looking back after the 8 months it didn't seem like it was difficult at all, 8 months isn't that long of a time, except for when you're looking forward at it, and you have to do something that you don't want to do. What were you doing 8 months ago that is so different than right now?
I don't remember the exact quote or who gave the interview, but those were his points. And it's all true. This is why you focus on the one small thing you can do right now, not the 8 months ahead of you. So could you sit still in a dark and quiet room for 5 minutes at some point today? Just 5 minutes. Don't tell me you don't have time because let me follow you around for a day and we'll see how many minutes you spend looking at useless stuff on your phone. We'll find 5 minutes analyzing just that one task, I promise you. Once you practice meditation and get good at it, you can do it anywhere, that's the fun part of it and why I don't like using the actual word. It used to just be called thinking, or alone time, but now we focus on that word and we have no more alone and quiet time to just think.
Today is Friday and I have had an absolutely terrible week, personally and professionally. I walked around a park this morning without music, without looking at my phone, for 15 minutes. I left that park full of ideas, positive thoughts, and I have crushed my day in a fabulous mood. And it's only noon. We don't just "have" good and bad days, we "create" them. We all have that choice every day. So go create a good day. Look inside yourself, find the unhappy and scary thoughts, and face them. Replace them with positive thoughts, and then see how your day changes.