Are you frustrated? I am. What frustrates you? I’ll tell you what frustrates me. It’s a fairly long list: School shootings, suicide bombers, lying politicians, rich people who grasp for more while many go hungry, corporations who pursue profits regardless of the human cost and lie to us about it, health insurance company executives getting rich off the sickness and misery of others and lying to us about it, climate change (don’t get me started), conspiracy theorists, people with the “every man for himself” attitude—I could go on and on. But, you get the idea.
The common theme here is things that cause suffering and scare people. That’s right. If you are frustrated by any or all these things, chances are you are scared too. I recently spoke to a group of county mental health social workers about mindfulness and was somewhat surprised when one of them asked “We’ve all been seeing a sharp increase in anxiety disorders and depression. What do you think is causing it and can mindfulness help?” As for the cause: just look at the time we live in. And yes, mindfulness practices can help. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. The point here is: if you are frustrated and feeling anxious and depressed, don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. It’s an epidemic. Our society is sick and getting sicker. Accept it.
We, as a society, need to get started on recovery and sooner is better than later. The first step in recovery is acceptance (a mindfulness concept) and the first step in acceptance is “talking about things the way they really are”. That means you have to put some effort into learning how things really are. I know, that sounds like work. However, what you don’t know CAN hurt you and what you ignore probably WILL hurt you.
Acceptance is awareness without judgment. That means people who don’t agree with you or are doing any of those things I mentioned in the first paragraph are not evil—they just are. I know it’s hard to get your mind to the point where you can condemn the behavior and not the person, but it can be done.
So, if you are frustrated and maybe a little anxious and depressed I have a few suggestions if you’re interested.
1. Begin the study of mindfulness practices AND principles. Find at least 10-15 minutes every day to practice a meditative, “deep relaxation” type of mindfulness practice.
2. Reach out. Talk about those things that frustrate you—talk about your fear.
3. Take action. Education is the beginning of action. Learn about how things really are. You might even find some of the things you fear are not real.
4. Learn about the issues and VOTE. I know people who think it doesn’t matter who is in power— “they’re all a bunch of crooks.” Well, it DOES matter. Politicians who want to keep their jobs must pay attention to their constituents: you and me.
I know my suggestions might seem a bit simplistic and even a little cliché. But you gotta start somewhere and I swear that as more people follow these suggestions and start pulling together things can and will get better.