Unless you live in a very remote area and are essentially off the grid, you know that our world is facing at least two major challenges—climate change and political corruption. But before you stop reading because you think I’m going to get political (I’m not) and/or tell yourself neither of those have anything to do with you, I beg to differ. I do agree it is tempting to just pretend everything is just fine, or distract ourselves into believing those issues are someone else’s problem. However, I don’t think that’s the SMART approach. That’s because it is obvious to me that the people and the world around us have a significant influence on our wellbeing, our health and particularly our future. So regardless of what country you live in or what side of the fence (wall) you happen to be on, you and the people you care about are being touched by world events. What do we do? I believe there are three things we all can do to stay sane, relatively happy and hopeful in the days ahead.
#1 Consider the fact that “everything is connected.” I’m sure you have heard that statement before but do you really believe it? Thom and I have been watching a lightweight tv show on Netflix this summer called The Good Witch. We usually watch it right before bedtime because the stories always have a happy ending and there is absolutely never any violence. The major character (The “good witch”) is named Cassie and in nearly every episode she says, “Everything is connected.” And guess what? As the show unfolds that idea eventually plays out in a positive way in every circumstance.
Of course, the reason this phrase (everything is connected) has become so popular is because it is being written about and talked about by nearly every positive thinker in the world today. That includes motivational speakers and authors, as well as those in the New Thought, New Age and even the more positive traditional religions themselves. It’s everywhere! But it’s not new. This idea of connection, or as it is often called “Oneness,” has been a part of numerous philosophies, religions and mystery schools for thousands of years.
Even science is on board with the idea. Ever heard that a butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico could theoretically cause a hurricane in China? Or how about when astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says, “…we are all connected—to each other biologically, to the earth chemically, and to the rest of the Universe, atomically.”
Okay, so say you agree that everything is connected. How does that help us deal with the challenges of today? The obvious one is that we can’t hide from what’s going on in the world. I’m not a big fan of Ayn Rand, but one of her quotes is, “Man is free to choose not to be conscious, but not free to escape the penalty of unconsciousness: destruction.” Ultimately I believe we are all connected—to each other, and to nature itself. And the future of womankind and our planet likely depends on the choices we make (or don’t make) from today on out.
#2 Do something, anything. Yes I’ve written about this before. But this last week Thom and I participated in the Global Climate Strike to raise awareness about the climate crisis our entire world faces. Not only was this rally the largest climate protest in history, it was initiated by one young woman from Sweden named Greta Thunberg. In true “the power of one” fashion, Greta began her world-wide conversation and corresponding action towards climate change awareness at the tender age of 15. In just one year (!) her words and actions sparked a generation of young people (and all of those who support them) to rally. It’s claimed that 4 million people participated in over 163 countries around the world on September 20, 2019. I am proud to say I was one of them.
Of course, you might not be able to go to a rally or even want to, but you can call your representatives about ideas you support. You can shop sustainably; you can make conscious choices that support your values, you can help others in need, you can write or talk to others about what must be done—it doesn’t really matter what you do—just do it! Greta is proof that each of us can make a difference—but we have to start by taking action.
I believe something powerful happens when we start taking actions that support our deeply held beliefs. First we begin feeling more hopeful. Then we often start to see that our actions do help and support more than we realize. When we look around we start to recognize we are not alone and that we are connected. That all helps us overcome any feelings of powerlessness. The more we act, no matter how small, the more we realize that we can make a difference. Don’t believe me? Ask Greta Thunberg.
#3 Remember you get to make it up. In other words, we always have a choice. We might not like our choices, but we are never without them—be they internal or external. And if you are not deciding for yourself, who is?
One of my projects this summer is working on my next book. The title of the book will be You Get To Make It Up—A SMART Living 365 Guide To Creating A Meaningful and Happy Life. Like three of my previous books, this book will be a compilation of the best blog posts I’ve written on this topic. But make no mistake from the title, this book isn’t about just staying positive and pretending that you can stand in front of a speeding car and not get run over. Instead it is a reminder to me, and everyone who will listen, that we have the choice about whether we passively stand there and let the world, (or others) run over us, or we do what we can, where we are, with what we have.
Ultimately, even when we feel we have little influence on the circumstances we face, we can do as Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Let’s never forget we get to make it up!
I don’t think it is ever SMART to pretend that we never have to face challenges both in either our personal life or in the world. Instead, why not try to remember a statement by a dear old friend of mine who said, “We all go through hell now and then. Just don’t stop and buy a condo!” It could be that the SMARTest thing we can do is to never forget that we are all connected, that we get to make it up, and to stay actively and positively engaged with life as much as possible. From where I stand, that is our best hope for a positive future for us all.