What to do about Paris? About Beirut? About all the violence we see in the world? Can we do anything about it?
I was reminded today that yes, there is something we can all do. We can start with ourselves. We can end the violence we express in our lives. Do you think you're not violent? Take a moment to pay attention to your inner dialogue. Do you see judgement there? Anger? Negativity? This may not rank as high as picking up a gun and shooting someone, but the difference is in degree, not in kind.
So we start with ourselves. And for those of you who are parents, we teach peace to our children. We cannot create peace with hatred in our hearts. We can act to stop people who intend to hurt us, but that doesn't mean that we have to hate them. We can understand that happy, successful people don't generally commit random acts of violence while at the same time taking action to protect ourselves.
I was moved by this poem I saw on Facebook, written by a Somali-British poet by the name of Warsan Shire:
later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
where does it hurt?
While many of us look forward to this time of the year as a way of re-connecting with family and loved ones, for many of us, this is also one of the most stressful seasons of the whole year. If you're flying, it's a nightmare. Planes are delayed, screw-ups in ticketing can happen, last minute changes can spell disaster. If you're driving, the roads are jammed. You can expect to spend at least twice as much time getting anywhere as you're used to, and people drive as though they were the only ones on the road.
So what do you do about the madness? How do you not let it get to you? There are several strategies which can help you cope with anything from a freeway that has become a parking lot, to that relative you dread sitting next to and listening to all their complaints.
First of all, breathe. I know you're breathing, but take a deep, long breath and let it out with an audible "ahhhhh". Do this 3 times. It will help you to focus your mind on the present moment.
Second, you can put post-it notes in places you're likely to see them which remind you, "Do not take anything personally". This is huge. I mean, really, really huge. The driver that just cut you off and made you slam on your brakes? Not personal. That relative? Not personal.
Third, remember that all of your thoughts about whatever is going on, are just your story. You are the author of that story, which means that you can edit it anytime you want. The trick is to remember that it's just a story. So when you find your mind going off into upset or sadness or anger, just remember that you are "writing" that story. Remind yourself that you have options. You can choose happiness right now, no matter what is going on. Crazy as that might seem in the moment, it's possible. Believe me, I've used this technique and it works. You just have to remember to do it. That's the tricky part.
Here's to a stress-less holiday season. Cheers!
I've been practicing acupuncture and Chinese medicine for over 25 years, and this ancient wisdom never gets old. I love helping people feel better without the need for drugs or surgery.