Raise your hand if you don’t even want to open a newspaper or check your social media feeds anymore, with all of the chaos of the moment.
Do you find yourself increasingly angry? Frustrated? Heartbroken? Drained? Believe me, you are not alone.
I have a few core beliefs that regularly guide me through the turmoil. For example, that there is more good than bad in the world – although the bad often seems to get more attention. And while at times the problems may seem bigger than us, we – every single one of us – can take action to make the world a better place.
Sometimes that’s hard to remember. And sometimes it’s hard to know what “little ol’ me” can do. So I’ve created this list of 35 starting points to open up the conversation. I encourage you to employ the ones that speak to you, and to add to this list as well.
1. Feel. Whatever you’re experiencing – anger, hurt, optimism, fear, gratitude, and beyond – feel your feelings. Blocking or ignoring them will not help you or anyone else in the long run.
2. Connect. You don’t have to figure everything out on your own, and there is power in numbers.
3. Focus. Commit to solutions over blaming or complaining. Solutions move us forward; the rest keeps us stuck.
4. Shine the light. Find the people doing good and spread their messages. (Looking at you too, news industry.)
5. Research. Just because it’s on the internet does not make it true. Seek facts before you believe – and before you share.
6. Speak up. Like we’re reminded at airports, if you see something, say something. To the persons involved and/or to professionals who can help.
7. Ask. Focus on growth- and change-oriented questions: How can I help? What’s an action I can take? To whom can I reach out?
8. Share resources. Let people know of organizations, helpers, and nonprofits to which they can connect for support.
9. Vote. Educate yourself on candidates and punch your ballot for those you believe will represent you and your values.
10. Donate. Choose the cause that speaks to you the most, and give what you can.
11. Practice disciplined inquiry. For example, if an article makes a claim, don’t accept it at face value: Who funded the study? Was an adequate sample represented? Did it include mixed genders, ages, demographics? Dig deeper.
12. Extend a kindness. It’s amazing what a pre-paid grocery card to a family in need or a handwritten note to a kind service provider can do.
13. Eliminate excuses. “It was just a joke” or “That’s how it’s always been” are not the same as apologies, positive actions, or righting wrongs.
14. Listen. To children, to people paving a new way, to those with opinions that differ from yours. As Stephen Covey advised, “Seek first to understand.”
15. Seek help. Therapists, physicians, spiritual directors, healers, coaches, mentors, teachers…find the support you need. It’s out there.
16. Open the dialogue. If you raise or work with young people, talk about important topics like respect and long-term impacts of short-term decisions.
17. Pause. Before posting online, practice the THINK model: Is it True? Helpful? Inspiring? Necessary? Kind?
18. Show up. Town halls, marches, panel discussions, community events, fundraisers, or whatever matters to you.
19. Take care of yourself. You’ll be little help to others if you are completely depleted. Take physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual care.
20. Practice RAOKs. Random acts of kindness – as well as intentional ones – make a difference. Conduct one daily if possible.
21. Use your gifts. Where do your strengths and skills lie? Write, speak, teach, mentor, advocate, do your thing to make your difference.
22. Honor your values. Wherever your feel most hurt likely means a core value is being violated. Clarify, honor, and act in accordance with your values.
23. Learn from the wise. Look to present-day heroes as well as those from history – perhaps Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, or whomever speaks to you.
24. Be alert but not afraid. Be prepared, take precautions, listen to your intuition – yet don’t let fear run your life and drive all your decisions.
25. Engage your faith. This may include prayer, quiet meditation, community, stillness, attending a service, or whatever faith-based practices serve you.
26. Spread the good word. Give exposure to the difference-makers you admire. Leaders, authors, firefighters, business owners, helpers, healers…share their stories, invite people to their events, encourage their continued efforts by letting them know their work matters.
27. Talk. Share your ideas, speak your truth, use your voice. It doesn’t have to be loud to be effective.
28. Write. Create articles and posts that inspire useful action rather than fuel the fear. Write and call your legislators on issues as well.
29. Create. Whether paintings, sculptures, music, charts, conversations, home decor…every day you create things that didn’t exist before. Embrace your artistry. Create for positive change.
30. Choose your direction. Decide where you most want to place your energy, then run with it. Focus on contribution over chaos.
31. Accept your position. Face it: You are a leader. You have the ability to influence others. Use those superpowers for good!
32. Don’t give up. We need you.
33. Choose your sources wisely. Maybe it’s time to turn off the TV or cancel the subscription or reduce the noise or delete the app. Decide the sources you trust for unbiased facts and accurate reporting, and let the others go.
34. See the good. It’s out there. Look to the helpers, the healers, the protectors, the courageous. Gain inspiration from their ways of being.
35. Be the good. Lead by example. It sets a ripple effect in motion that you cannot even begin to fathom.
This is just a launching pad of ideas, friends. What would you add? Please share your wisdom in the comments below. Here’s to a better, braver, kinder, more purposeful world for us all.
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