Happy, Happy Holidays, People – DIY!
For a change of pace, this blog entry is not dedicated to me or my recent doings or what I’m up to in the New Year – you can figure all that out – and I’ll keep you posted in months to come about the tour and CD release and whatnot. Today, I’d rather talk about more interesting things …. our world, our attitudes, our actions, our joy.
Look, there is much in the news to frustrate, scare, depress, anger … that is the consequence of a 24-hour news cycle. I’m a news junkie, I admit, and have my computer, twitter feed, radio tuned in much of the day. I am a believer in being informed, but I also believe in not giving away my power …. The news can rob you, just as a rude person in line at Starbucks can rob you, of happiness …. if you let them! It’s not just about protecting yourself, however, I think we can actually transform the situation. Big or small, have you noticed that the majority of our problems are the result of escalation? Who doesn’t want to one-up the guy who cut you off on the road? It takes strength to redirect bad energy! But more than strength, I find it actually just takes practice. You want to change your outlook? Want to change the world? I truly believe we can, daily. It’s about taking a breath before answering the 400th question from your 4-year-old, making eye contact and truly thanking the clerk ringing you up in the jam-packed store, surprising someone in your daily life with a small gesture to let them know you appreciate what they do … and that you notice! These are small things and take very little energy investment, but pay massive dividends. The key is to make the small things a habit. Once these become habit, something you do as a general practice, the guy who cuts you off on the road plays a significantly diminished role in your happiness. (He’s on the editing room floor, I like to say.) This choice in attitude, again, is just practice. It becomes second-nature and so when situations like the driver occur, I find that I no longer think about payback or gesturing rudely to one-up him, rather, I wonder if that the person having a terrible day or life (in the case that he/she always behaves this way). I still don’t like their actions, they are inexcusable, but having just the smallest notion of sympathy for them removes all their power to ruin my day. So take that! =)
The world is big, the problems seem insurmountable, but we are powerful beyond measure. Again, whether we are talking the world, our country or our own homes – most discord comes from escalation – a confrontation occurs and the parties keep building tension in some deluded power-struggle until it results in tragic events. No matter what side you take, I urge you to imagine how events would play out if any party made the active decision to defuse the tension (and there are countless ways to do so) – would we still be here? Ironically, in an effort to “win” an argument, we are all losing. One does not have to admit defeat to end conflict, just deescalate the tension until emotions calm … then we can have the needed conversation. It’s oversimplifying, I know this, but I challenge you to walk through your day, notice the tension-filled situations you encounter (whether yours or not), because there are LOTS of those this time of year, and either pay attention to the pattern to see if what I say is true in your estimation … or take the next step and be the conduit of calming a situation down. If you catch it early it takes almost nothing (so little effort!) to end it fast, and not just move on yourself, but change the trajectory of all the people involved.
Small things. Small efforts. Little gratitudes, often. These can become habit. Defuse tensions before others even know they are mounting. Simple when small. Change the world. Practice. Make habits. Attitude can (and IS) nothing more than habit. Our experience is the result of our attitudes. Enough preaching, yes?? Ha!
Here are some things that blow my mind. Some are big, some are small. All show the power of defusing tensions and making simple gestures to change the world:
My sister, Liz, helped build a village in Rwanda to heal the orphans of the genocide, and the philosophy in the village is that if you help others, you heal yourself! These children seemingly have nothing; what could they give? They were orphaned by one of the most tragic events in the last century – many watched their families murdered … some were forced to be soldiers themselves. They are the ones who need help, yes? But wait … they have much (!) to give: their energy and spirit! And they do! They give back to their impoverished surrounding area with their time and hard work growing needed food and building infrastructure – that plus the excellent home, surrogate family and education the village provides has literally changed EVERYTHING in their world. They have dreams (which they are achieving!) and thus, they are inspiring a whole new generation! (check out their site here: Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village – ASYV)
I love, LOVE “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” It is my favorite show on television, and I’m not really a sports gal. The stories, the viewpoint, the insight, the care each journalist takes with their subject, and Bryant himself, enrich my personal world. This past week, in the wake of events in our country, “Real Sports” aired this story, “The Watts Bears.” THIS needs the kind of press that others are usurping. We want to change race tensions between police and communities of color? WE ARE in Los Angeles – Watts (!) if you can believe it. These are the real heroes: the officers taking the time to coach kids on and off the field and the moms and dads who a taking a chance in trusting them. I love everything about this. Here is the “Watts Bears” story, and here is the site for “Real Sports” – there is a web extra on the story there.
Today I stumbled across my new favorite charity: DonorsChoose.org where teachers in low income areas post wish lists on the site so that we can go on and fund them. Let’s help fix education and empower teachers and kids in one small gesture, shall we? SO BRILLIANT! Small or large contributions are directly and profoundly meaningful! Just the fact that people go and fund must send a message to teachers that we care – and sometimes just knowing that can fuel them through this broken system! You can even receive thank you letters from the students if you click that box, and that is perfect for my little Brownie Troop (donating their dues money), so that the girls can feel the worth of a donation and understand that it is truly making a difference – and for kids their own age. People! You must do this, if for purely selfish reasons! I gave just a little bit this morning to a classroom in Illinois, and I have spent the day thinking about them and their teacher and not my own ridiculous little dramas. I’m happy because of it! =) Do yourself a favor – Shop for a classroom!
I wish you a happy (make happy a habit!) and healthy (make that a habit, too!) holiday and New Year.
PS. I added “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town to the HOME page here for a free listen (look for the player on top right of your screen)! Saved you $.99!! xo