There’s no doubt 2017 has been a crazy year so far. We’ve seen more tragedies, tensions, and surprises than any of us can keep track of, and the hits just keep on coming. The events of this year have had many people glued to their televisions and sucked into the social media vortex, trying to keep up with the latest information about the most current major news item. But at the rate this information—both accurate and sensationalized—is pumped out by the media, it’s impossible to keep up.
The beautiful thing about having access to as much information as we do is that we’re able to maintain a sense of awareness about what’s going on in the world. Through this awareness, we can access our ability to speak up and take action wherever appropriate. We can hold our leaders accountable and be agents of change. But of course, there’s also a down side to having a constant stream of information accessible around the clock. If we aren’t mindful and moderate about our news consumption, we’re likely to experience negative emotions and generate certain assumptions about the world.
We don’t need to try too hard to find reasons to be discouraged and disappointed about the state of things, and we’re persistently given reasons to feel anxious and afraid. If we allow the emotions stoked in us by our current events to dictate the way we experience the world, it’s going to shape that experience in unhelpful ways. We’re likely to look around us with suspicion and judgment, seeing things that support and confirm a pessimistic perspective about our world and its future.
There’s a popular line of reasoning in our culture that suggests a person must be fully informed about everything going on in the world in order to be a good citizen. Now, I’m not opposing that view, as it’s certainly important to have some sense of what’s going on. But if getting informed means getting anxious, angry, guarded, hopeless, or overwhelmed, that’s pretty obviously counterproductive. So how can we remain peaceful and hopeful when everyone’s suggesting that we should be anything but that? Here are just a few ideas for creating that possibility:
Walk the middle path. As with just about everything in life, balance is key when it comes to consuming information about current events (and related projections for the future). Stay informed only to the extent that it allows you to direct your energy and efforts toward positive change. Anything more has the potential to perpetuate the problems at hand.
Be peace. Even when everything around you suggests otherwise, peace is always available to you. And you are powerful enough to create it. Be intentional about finding opportunities to generate a sense of peace and stillness within, and know that by radiating that peace outward to everyone around you, you’re making an invaluable contribution to the world.
Be daring enough to hope. It’s a radical act to be hopeful when there’s little evidence that the future is bright. But if you want to remain peaceful and be a source of change for the future, you must hold on to hope at all costs. And once you’ve got a firm grasp, start sharing that hope with others, getting them to see what you do.
Trust that everything has its purpose. It’s not easy to access trust when everything seems like it’s falling apart. And within the context of a cultural climate that is generally pessimistic, it’s even harder to be trusting. But when you can find the faith that everything occurring is part of a plan—perhaps serving as a painful yet necessary step toward true progress—you will find that peace is possible.
Now, more than ever, the world needs us to stay grounded, keep our hearts open, and be instruments of peace. It’s up to all of us to create the world we want to live in and leave behind. So as the spiritual teacher Mooji so beautifully said, “Don’t remind the world that it is sick and troubled. Remind it that it is beautiful and free.”