In last week's Monday Morning Stretch, I spoke about productivity and peace. After reading it, a friend asked about the attainment of personal peace in relation to current events around the world. In particular, as it related to my decision to limit the amount of news I watched on television or read in a newspaper.
Their belief was that "sticking our heads in the sand" didn't make things less threatening or real and "not knowing" only created apathy and sent a message of silent acceptance and/or powerlessness to change it. They felt that history showed we are a species prone to war, violence, and righteousness and that the current facts proved our country was currently on a downward fall from greatness and without massive change, life as we've known it would never return. They found it na´ve to be optimistic when you ignore the facts of the environment around you. They were also challenged to find any sense of deep peace along with a nagging feeling that things were not well as evidenced by an entire network of people who wished us serious harm, soaring gasoline prices and a plunging dollar, less and less educated children, and a nation of entitled people.
By the time they were done, there was not only had a deep frown between the eyes and slumped shoulders but they were practically sweating from the effort. Indeed, no peacefulness here.
Yet, it's a fair question: How does one stay peaceful when there is so much injustice, uncertainty, upheaval, and threat in the world? When you watch the news about wars, invasions, extremists, disastrous weather, plummeting economies it's easy to be upset, angry, pessimistic, worried, horrified, and saddened ... if not downright scared.
In light of all of this, I believe we can feel at peace. I feel at peace now in my life. However, it was a hard-won peace and it only came when I reconciled my desire to stay broadly knowledgeable about my global community and at the same time to be the brightest light for peace in the world that I touched, mainly our Lion's Den subscribers, speech attendees, workshop participants, coaching clients, colleagues, family, friends, and my immediate community. To do that, I recognized I must feel optimistic, safe, and expect the continuance of the best in others to prevail. To feel that way, I found I needed to limit my exposure of what is happening far from me and continually tune my attention to that which is in my current experience or to that which I'm somehow drawn to as a personal cause.
Right now, if I only used my business and finances as a measure of the economy, we are in the best one I've ever known. If I only use my community as a measure of my personal security, I'm as safe as I've ever been. If I use my fellow citizens, friends, and the stranger right now beside me on the plane as I write this as my measure for the goodness in people, I've never felt better or more certain that goodness and kindness will prevail against hatefulness and injustice.
Well, before you stop reading this in disgust, let me say that of course I will speak with my vote when the time comes for what I would like to see my leaders change and stand for. I may even join a rally or lobby for a cause if I am moved to do so. If my current experience changes to a more immediately threatening landscape, I may even arm myself and fight for my freedom and that of my fellow people. When it is my passion and I am internally called to action, I have no doubt I will and (here's the best part) I am certain I will do so with an internal feeling of peace. But for now, it is not my calling. If I stay tuned in to my own internal guidance system, I'm being called in a different direction and it is serving not only my own happiness but allowing me to share with many others. It is making the biggest difference right now and it fills me with that feeling of peace of which Dr. Chopra spoke.
I do not deny these domestic and world events are important, relevant, even critical. And when we watch them from afar and then rage and worry as a result but do nothing... all we have accomplished is to rage and worry... and to spread that rage and worry over others who are also not currently experiencing it. If the concern or anger you feel as a result of these events causes you to take some action then you should feel a sense of peace around that. You can spread that message of action and hope for change.
I was once (not so long ago) absolutely addicted to the news. Truly addicted. I recorded talk shows, watched the nightly news, had presets for news in my car, and read the newspaper each morning. The news was even my home page on my computer. Then partly by accident, somewhat by necessity, and to some degree by design, I've not watched the news or read a newspaper in almost a year and ... guess what? I've kept up with most of the major news anyway. It's amazing. Bin Laden, the royal wedding, floods, earthquakes, Libya, politics, gas prices. People text me, strangers talk in the grocery store line, I glance at a headline in passing, I hear CNN waiting in the airport, my Facebook pals weigh in... Somehow I know enough but just enough to know. Not enough to feel rage or panic or even sorrow for things I cannot change. I donated to the Red Cross to help victims of some recent disasters but I did not look at images half a globe away that I could not chase from my mind and feel helpless about. Instead I put my energies toward making my immediate world the best it can be. Full of hopefulness, positive ideas, and exciting new resources and ... my life has never been more full, rich, or better. When and if that changes, I will respond in the most courageous, positive, and peaceful way I know how.