The pain and suffering in the world seems unrelenting. All you have to do is open a newspaper, turn on the TV or even check Facebook to see images and stories of horrific happenings in the world. Some of these are close to home and some are on the other side of the planet but all of them have an impact.
You have your own ways of coping and dealing with the day-to-day barrage of stressors. You might post your opinions on Facebook seeking refuge and agreement among like-minded individuals or you might use posts as a way of provoking others into arguments in an effort to lessen your own pain. Your method may be one of retreat. You stop reading the news, engaging with social media and just hide out for a while. All of these options are available to you and I admit, I’ve engaged in all of them.
The thing about reacting in any of these ways is that none of them ever made me feel good. Usually I was left feeling more of something – more scared, more angry, more hopeless. Throwing myself into action seemed like an easy next step but even the idea of adding one more thing to my already busy life seemed like it would drain the very last drop of energy I had.
So what do I do in this place? How do move forward without being drained, getting stressed or being hurt? What can I do to reassure my children? How do I help my patients who are impacted by daily news?
The answer comes to me in the form of a butterfly’s wing. If you believe that we are all connected in the larger Universe, on this planet that is spinning and flying through space, then my answer will seem that much more plausible. Just as the butterfly effect tells us that the smallest event can have a huge impact, so can we – in the most subtle ways.
The planet or the national climate are not going to change because one person does something miraculous. The world will change when we all start doing small things. Like smiling at someone who is walking down the street or holding the door open for a stranger with their arms full of packages. The ripple effect of these small kindnesses can be unimaginable but think of it! You’re having a bad day and the whole world seems to be conspiring against you. Then the person in the coffee line in front of you picks up your tab. "What?! How amazing!" you say to yourself. "I guess the world isn’t conspiring against me after all!" And suddenly your whole view changes because of someone’s $5 generosity.
I’m not asking you to become the Good Samaritan. What I will say is that the best way to make the world a better place is to make yourself a better human. Improve yourself. Stretch yourself in ways that make you uncomfortable. Seek out a way to overcome your pains, anger, sadness so that you can radiate joy more often than fear. When you are the best version of you, we all benefit (And so do you!). Imagine a world where everyone is able to pursue their own passion and we truly feel our joy and connection with one another. This is the world I want to live in. This is why I continue to figure out what makes me tic and how I can mold my life to become the best Desirée Brazelton I can be. It’s not a selfish practice. When I am joyful and connected, everyone around me feels the ripple of happiness. The same is true, of course, when I’m feeling down. Why would I want that for my family, friends or the world around me?
Go and find what makes you happy and fills you up. This pursuit is one of the best gifts you can give the world and helps to perpetuate the greatest social change we can imagine. It's so much easier to give from a cup that is full.