Raise your hand if you cried this week.
You’re not alone.
We had a heavy week as a nation. Between the bomb detonation at the Boston Marathon and an explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas, lives were lost, forever changed, and altered in horrific ways.
When events like this occur – especially when they happen in such short succession – the hurt feels deeper, the anger is more fierce, the mourning is heavier. We cry, inside and out, for the lost lives, for the thankfulness in our hearts that our loved ones are alive, for the knowledge of our new reality. We might also mourn for the lost innocence this world has, for some reason, not yet become accustomed to. Where was our innocence for the BM, you ask? Well, were you sitting there thinking to yourself, “They better watch out. Someone’s going to put something in a trash can.” Did the organizers ask themselves, “What about the trashcans? Will those be a security hazard?” Maybe, maybe not. But the innocent response is, “I can’t see how it could be.” Now, you see – the innocence lost in thinking a trash can is safe. How dare us, right?
We shake our fist, we seek revenge, we ask the One who is in control “WHY?! are you letting these things happen?! Aren’t there more important things you could be doing – like saving lives instead of taking them?!” We hold our kids tighter, we say “I love you” more times than we did yesterday. We say, “What is this world coming to?” We even ask, “How can I help?” and we send money faster than we can shed our first tear. We reexamine our lives, deciding what is no longer safe for us to be doing.
What we don’t do, is re-prioritize. We continue to let petty issues become gargantuan, life-stalling concerns. We focus on our iPhone games or Facebook dramas or small inconveniences we encounter throughout our day. We allow Wife Swap to be among the top-rated TV shows for the week. We engage in he-said-she-said on- and offline. We get into our own little worlds and we stay there, stuck like a shoe to a piece of spit-out gum.
What I cry out for in my heart every day is STOP THE MADNESS. I want to stop the drama-filled tilt-a-whirl we have ourselves on. I want children to feel completely loved by their parents. i want friendships to remain strong even through disagreements. I want us as a people to be healthier, stronger- physically, emotionally, spiritually.
I know I am not alone. I know I’m not alone. But what can we do about it? What solutions could I possibly offer that might make our worlds a little less drama-filled and a little more … pleasant? Peaceful? Joyful? Six ideas:
1. Leave the Reality Show Drama for the reality shows. No. 1, those are not reality. No. 2, the way people treat each other on “reality” shows is not healthy. Enjoy the show, be entertained by the absurdity, the hilarity, but then leave it in the tube. Come back to real life and be nice.
2. Focus on the positive. My good friend Beth Hess taught me, “What you focus on expands.” If you focus on the good stuff, it’ll crowd out the negativity. If you focus on the bad stuff, it’ll crowd out the positivity. Do what you need to do to be reminded – each day – of the sweet things in this life.
3. Scale back on Screen Tech Time. Count how much time you spend in front of screen vs. how much time you spend in front of a person. There is a balance to be found that will rock your world once you get used to it. (There’s an adjustment period, since our tech devices are basically appendages).
4. Trust each other. Try – just for one day – taking everyone at their word and not second-guessing their motives. Assume a mix-up is a misunderstanding/miscommunication instead of it being intentional. This will dial down the defensive and amp up the positive.
5. Show instead of teach. Instead of verbally teaching a concept – i.e., kindness, respect, truthfulness, generosity, patience – show it. Every day I ask my students, “Who’s ready?” They all yell with their hand waving in the air, “Me!!” I say, “Don’t tell me. Show me.” I want to see their behavior. It’s overused and it’s a cliché, but actions speak louder than words.
6. Be kind, and listen. Yes, the person you’re talking to might sound a little crazy or a little defensive or a little whatever else. But they deserve to be heard just like you. Trust (see No. 3) that they are trying their best to communicate, and you stand your Kind Ground. You be the one to stay even. You be the one to validate them first, and see how far you get.
Sometimes we feel life shouldn’t be so frustrating. And by all means, cry and feel those emotions all the way through. Still, we need to focus. We need to distinguish between a pebble and a mountain. If we focus on the pebbles, sooner or later they’ll all be mountains and life will be much, much harder than it needs to be.
If you disagree, please, share your ideas. All I know is that when I remember to take these 6 things into consideration as I live my life, joy comes shining through like a ray of sunshine covering my day. And I wish the same for you.