Today is Memorial Day and it's been a terrible week here in the United States. On top of more shootings – Chattanooga over the weekend, another school shooting last week in Texas on top of the horrific Buffalo shooting just a couple of weeks ago – Covid cases are on the rise again, and everywhere we turn there is some emergency or natural disaster looming. The politicians seem more focused on keeping peace – with their funders or their colleagues – when what we need is real action that’s based in compassion, common sense, and stone-cold resolve. Because the world is burning. And like I said, that's just in the United States.
There is no way around the fact that this is a really tough time for human beings everywhere and it can be hard to feel anything other than terrible. Feeling OK seems foreign at times, and by “OK, I mean happy, accomplished, fulfilled, content, you name it. It almost seems obscene to be OK despite the world's goings-on, doesn't it?
But that's the thing. Being OK is our work.
You did know I was going to have a "but," right?
There's a big lesson that comes out of the pain of collective grief and loss. And that lesson is, as rough as these times are and as much as you want to do your part for the world, you have to mind your corner first. That means you need to make sure YOU are OK. Because in order to effect change in the world, we have to start with ourselves.
I’m going to paraphrase Gandhi here and say you have “to be the change” first.
So let’s focus on being OK – which by the standards above means being happy, feeling accomplished, fulfilled, content, and so on. Your days might not be rainbows and roses, but you feel like you are on the right track and making a difference. Not being OK makes it harder to do the things you want to do, like help your family, get your work done, and keep yourself healthy.
Being OK means you're taking the time you need to manage your emotions while you handle your job woes, your health issues, your family's shenanigans, the world breaking your heart at every turn, and anything else that comes up.
I know it’s a tall order. Specifically, though I’m hearing from a lot of people who are leaving jobs right now or realizing now that they're back in the office that their old situations no longer work for them. So many people have shared that their work-life balance feels even worse than it did before the pandemic.
We cannot afford to be worse off at work than we were before the pandemic when the world is in such disarray. This is not conducive to feeling/being OK – because when your professional wellbeing is severely compromised, it will leak into your personal wellbeing. There is no line, no divider to compartmentalize the unhappiness and dissatisfaction from such important areas as work and family and health – they will always seep through to the other areas.
And that's not even considering the collective grief and loss we're all dealing with here.
I'm going to posit that unhappiness – at work or anywhere – can and does lead to poor choices, which in turn lead to negative consequences like health issues and lower productivity, among other things. And again – we can’t afford the high cost of reduced immunity and increased stress. Not with everything going on.
If you've made it this far, thank you. I know I'm being a bit of a downer, but there is a payoff. I know you want to be happy at work, at home, everywhere. You want to be present for your family. You want to be productive. You want to help the world in some way. And you want to the madness to stop.
I get it. And I suggest you stop watching the news.
Before you jump on your high horse, note that I don't suggest becoming an uninformed troglodyte. If you’re on social media at all, you’re probably getting some news that way. But I’m suggesting you read it. Reading your news means you can learn more than what's reported on TV or on the socials. More importantly, you choose what you read and avoid getting bombarded with tragic images over and over again. Those images are really powerful and not in a good way. Believe me, your mind, heart and adrenal glands will thank you for making this small shift in how you get your news.
Another tip? If you're overwhelmed and feeling unrecognized or unrecognizable, try my 10-minute Self-Connection Exercise below. It will help you stay cool in the midst of all this heat in the world. And I hope you know I don’t mean heat as in “temperature.” This exercise is only 10 minutes, so it’s doable and something you can decide to give yourself any day – or every day.
You help the world when you take time to show up for yourself. So do it. Show up. First for yourself, then for your family, then for your community. You might cry, feel lighter or heavier or numb. It's all OK. Grieve, make plans, love on your people, and love on yourself. The world needs you, so you’re doing us all a service when you cultivate peace and release in yourself. I promise. Plus, you deserve it. And that’s no small thing.
Sending you much love and peace,
10-minute connection exercise
Supplies (optional): Journal, pen, a timer
Sit quietly where you won't be disturbed (a bathroom is fine) and set your timer for 10 minutes or as long as you like.
Put your hands on your heart and breathe deeply, imagining the breath is filling your heart center, your chest.
Breathe in through your nose for a count of four (4) and then sigh it out for a count of seven (7). Do this for at least four (4) rounds.
Then ask yourself – in your mind, out loud or in your journal – one or all of these questions:
- What would make me feel happy?
- How can I best serve my purpose?
- What do I need to know?
Meditate or journal on the question(s) until the timer goes off, then put your hands back on your heart to say, "Thank you."