"If you listen too much to the suffering, the anger of other people, you will be affected. You will be in touch only with suffering, and you won't have the opportunity to be in touch with other, positive elements. This will destroy your balance. Therefore, in your daily life, you have to practice so that you can be in touch with elements that do not constantly express suffering: the sky, the birds, the trees, the flowers, children- whatever is refreshing, healing, and nourishing in us and around us." -Thich Nhat Hanh, in Anger
During this new year, I have put more thought into the energy that I send out into the world on a daily basis. Every day, we all make choices about whether we are going to contribute more negativity, more aggression, into the world or whether we are going to make positive contributions and seek to ease suffering, rather than create more of it. I do believe that, in people with any semblance of compassion, it causes people to suffer when they read about injustice, hatred, and human suffering that others are experiencing. For me, blogging used to be a way to vent against such negativity in the world. Much of that has involved reading things that are painful and hurtful for me, and for many people, to read. Looking back, I can see how I was affected by this, and how I had a tendency to lose connection with the positive elements of life. I see this pretty clearly in some of my old articles.
I don't think the point is to utterly avoid all things difficult or negative. It's all about balance. Negativity is a natural part of life that we all have to deal with the best we can. Pretending that life is all about skipping through the tulips hand in hand with our brothers and sisters skews the balance in the other direction of unrealism. The point, I think, is that we have to remember to nourish ourselves so we can deal with negativity in ways that are healthy for ourselves and for our communities.
Most recently, I have learned that I need serious breaks from reading some of the blogs from which I gather my blogging material. That includes not reading blogs of all political perspectives. In the mornings, during my workouts, I have also stopped listening to my daily political podcasts. I have found that it's much better for me personally not to begin the day by listening to people debate controversial issues and discuss how messed up the world is. Sometimes, taking a day or two away from Pressing News Stories can lessen that sense that we are forever being bombarded with Things Are Getting Worse headlines.
Even though life can be difficult, I have much in my life that I can appreciate and I don't want to lose sight of that by wallowing in negativity. When I remember to nourish myself with positivity, it reminds me to enjoy life and appreciate my time here. I'm not talking about profound things. For me, I try to find nourishment in the simple everyday things: taking a hot shower after working out hard, being unconditionally loved by two furry dogs, eating chocolate while appreciating the goddess-like beauty that is Lucy Lawless, watching over-competitive adults in their 20s and 30s play dodgeball like they're back in grade school, and taking that first breath of crisp Chicago morning air at the beginning of a new day.
If you're reading this blog, chances are you care about political issues and, perhaps, get rather riled up about them. No matter what your political leanings are, I hope this post is a conscious reminder to take care of yourself. If you haven't already done so, or don't do so regularly, stop for a minute today and nourish yourself with something positive. You deserve it. You probably need it. We all do.
Have a good weekend everyone.