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Watching the news reminds me of how chaos currently dominates American life.
For example, President Trump thrives on escalating verbal battles at home and on Twitter, and on wooing authoritarians abroad. Americans need leaders to step it up to protect our interests and not their political careers.
In addition, there is an outbreak of measles in America. Due to lower vaccination rates, a disease virtually eliminated over two decades ago is now experiencing an epidemic-level resurgence. At this rate, we will soon need vigilance against chicken pox, too.
We are facing a crisis in loneliness. Religious institutions that bind our society (i.e., the synagogue, church, temple, and mosque) are losing their influence.
Social media, a tool originally intended to foster connection, results in less human intimacy. Unfortunately, Facebook and Instagram only supplement human interaction, and cannot substitute for face-to-face friendship, though users seem to hope they could.
Where will I be when Kim and Kayne take over the country? In the end, what is keeping me from tossing everything aside and joining a monastery?
I am not looking for perpetual bliss or unending happiness; these ideals sound wonderful but are unsustainable.
While I am busy worrying about national issues, I should turn my focus inward. Although I have stumbled, the best moments for refinement happen through self-reflection.
The following are some useful ways of finding your truest version of yourself in a roller-coaster world:
Some folks feel disillusioned regarding religion. No one wants a sermon that focuses on judging and condemning their wicked ways. Lionel Richie wrote the lyric, “Easy like Sunday morning” for a reason.
However, there is something in our DNA that yearns for something greater. I’ve been so blessed to find solace at my church and camaraderie at my yoga classes. God is both just and loving, and we are all God’s children. Regardless of any individual’s faith, and the differences between many traditions, we are all inevitably bound together by how we treat each other. Each religion encourages compassion, kindness, patience, and generosity; these are universal virtues which are essential to our society, and they can be embraced by everyone.
Are you there for the people who matter most in your life?
I need a relationship inventory. I have witnessed loved ones breaking others down and not building them back up. The irony is that an individual already faces destructive forces in the world, including unrealistic societal demands. No wonder we are all so exhausted.
Success, without sharing it with someone who matters, is hollow. At this point, I am wondering if our standards are unrealistic. The nine-to-five grind is a rat race for a reason. In the end, you cannot take your material possessions with you.
We need people to support us in success and sorrow, and we need to do the same for others. Are we listening and paying attention during important conversations? Sometimes, our waning attention spans get in the way of mindful engagement or paying attention. Instead, we are producing cliché responses (i.e., “you don’t say”) or we talk over the person.
As painful as it is, I need people to hold me accountable or to call me when I’m going astray. I’ve grown as a person because certain people have pushed me. For some, all they need is support and understanding of their feelings.
The Challenge of Change
We’re all works in progress. True, lasting change means growth and development through facing a variety of challenges. If fortunate, we’re skillfully adapting to life’s tests, to make progress, not perfection.
In this search for my authentic self, I must focus on the substantive and tune out the superficial.
While we need to hone skills to make a living, we cannot ignore legitimate issues regarding the soul. As individuals, what we stand for and how we treat each other says a great deal about us after we leave this world. We have so many chances to celebrate our success and support each other in our trials. I will have to notice and make the most of these opportunities as I strive to be a better son, uncle, brother, and friend.
With recognition of the importance of facing challenges, healing relationships, and celebrating the essentially spiritual nature of human beings, we can make the world more harmonious and empower one another to change our country as well.
Collective evolution can only happen when individuals evolve and take on leadership roles. Step by step, bit by bit, our lives and our futures become less chaotic and more in tune with possibilities for peace and happiness, locally and nationally.