I’ve thought a lot about the transition for this new year. Never before have I heard on a grand scale people desperately ready to end a year and start another. Facebook, in particular, shows this sentiment where over and over people’s rage and frustration got expressed towards the year. I even know a friend who made a shirt for New Year’s Eve to express this. (Get ready for graphic language.)
It makes me wonder. Today is 2017 and yesterday was 2016. What exactly is going to be different besides the date?
Don’t get me wrong. I GET IT. I understand. There have been some really tough experiences and circumstances that have occurred this last year which are much more in the mainstream awareness than ever before.
But here’s why I have hope.
I was taking my evening walk to see the last sunset of 2016 and I saw this sign on a lawn in my neighborhood.
I’ve been seeing signs like this all over Berkeley as well.
I realize that Berkeley, CA is about as liberal a bubble as one can get in the United States.
The reason these signs give me hope is because the very issues that so many of us knew about but didn’t have to deal with directly are now out in the open and so many people are having important discussions about what’s really going on.
No longer are we in a time where we can turn a blind eye and have our heads in the sand, but we MUST GET INVOLVED.
No matter what your political alignment or affiliation, this past election year has shown that ignorance and denial of reality have made a lot of people scared, uncertain and angry.
Yet, more and more people are getting engaged, talking with others who may have completely opposite points of view and trying to understand one another’s differences as blame and judgment no longer work.
While the media will flood your awareness with death, hate crimes, and catastrophic news, there are positive things that are happening as well. This post by Col. Chris Hadfield is a perfect example documenting the successes and advances globally in 2016 including eradication of disease, former animals that were going extinct now increasing in population, the ivory trading ending and more. Read it here.
So here are three suggestions that can help you stay empowered.
1.) Be meticulous about what you focus on.
Make a conscious and intentional commitment to govern what you read, who you hang out with and what you talk about. There is nothing more contagious than sitting around talking about how awful things are, how scary it is and how it’s only getting worse.
Get informed, yes. By all means, stay current. But use that information to stay empowered and aware so that you can do something about it.
If the people you surround yourself are persistently angry, critical, negative and fatalistic and you know this only shuts you down, then find people who help you rise up. Surround yourself with people who are empowered, taking action, inspired and solution focus.
This includes what you read, who you talk to, what you talk about and what you fill your awareness with.
2.) Focus on what you can do something about.
After the presidential election, I found myself addicted to FB, news, other social media outlets with screaming headlines of how the world was coming to an end. Then I realized that a lot of what I was reading were opinion pieces that were writing about things out of context as well as other articles that were fake news.
I would get so tied up in knots, not knowing what was real and what was sensationalism. I would become so fearful and paralyzed, it was hard to get much done.
That’s when I realized that this pattern was not going to help anyone. I didn’t feel more informed, I felt more traumatized. So I made a point of picking 2-3 news sources that I could trust and designated a limited time to reading the news. Just enough to get informed but not enough to get depressed and paralyzed with fear.
All this to say is, focus on what you can do something about.
- Connect with people
- Get involved
- Have real conversations with people about what you think and feel
- Learn from people who don’t agree with you
- Become an activist
- Donate to causes that can make an impact for what you believe in
- Get inspired, make a difference
- Hold hope
- Write letters to your government officials
- Balance your news intake: for every catastrophic event you read about, find an equally empowering and inspiring success
3.) Take care of yourself.
By this time next year, we don’t know where things will be. There is so much uncertainty. But what I hope for you is that no matter what happens, you will be able to be resilient, adaptive and flexible.
This requires self-care. Loving yourself enough so that you are in optimal shape to respond with conscious intention to whatever is happening outside of you.
Diet, exercise, being with people you love, getting inspired, having meaning and purpose-these are all things that will help optimize your well-being. From that state of being, you can respond to the world around you from a place of empowerment and not victimhood or helpless/hopeless fear.
Do you know of the female activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala?
This interview with John Stewart in 2013 is phenomenal. Even under the most harrowing and terrifying circumstances, she is an example of empowerment, courage, inspiration and purpose.
We are all in this together. 2017 will be what we will make it to be. It’s not up to external circumstances, other people and things beyond our control. It is up to us, how we bring ourselves to the day, how we respond, what we create, how we act to one another, what we believe, how we take action and how we take care of ourselves.
May 2017 be an empowered, inspired, conscious, intentional year.
Keep calm and ROCK ON.