I can't handle bad news.
I know that darkness exists. I know that every moment of every day, someone is crying in anguish, pain and/or grief. I know this. But when I casually see violence... when despair is treated like a soundbite on TV... when I scroll past tragedy like just another headline in my newsfeed... I can't handle it. Fight or flight kicks in. The trifecta of stress hormones - adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine - flood my senses. I get derailed. I find myself overwhelmed. I grow despondent. And that doesn't help anyone.
I know that I am not capable of changing the world on a large scale. While I can daydream about being a billionaire with the means to provide all asylum-seekers with safe and humane refuge, I know that in reality the best I can do is two things: One, I can do actual, concrete things to help Syrian refugees. I can invite my friends to help me. You can too.
(In fact, I did invite my friends. We're having our second meeting tomorrow night. It's been therapeutic to come together with other compassionate people to talk about how we might make the world a little bit better).
Second, I can practice self-care so that I stay focused on doing good things in my corner of the world. Sometimes when days seem really dark, it is easy to forget how humanity works. We are not isolated individuals traveling the world alone. We are actually interconnected nodes in a network that spans the globe. What I do and say impacts other people, and the ripple emanating from me continues on down the line. It's up to me to figure out whether my ripples will be helpful and good, or negative and toxic. It's up to you too.
I'll end this note with a practical tip that I think will be enormously helpful for my mental clarity and focus. If you're like me, you may appreciate it too. I downloaded a Chrome extension call FB Purity. It lets users customize their Facebook page to get rid of things like the Trending section. It also allows users to set up filters to screen out words and phrases of their choosing. My banned list includes a lot of things that people might label as "triggers," plus some politically polarized soundbites, and words that I just don't think are polite. Now my feed looks like a wonderful world full of puppies, apple cider recipes, and babies covered in chocolate frosting. I know that's not what the real world is like, but it's a lot easier to stay focused on doing good things when I'm not constantly sucker-punched by grief.
Share the news of good deeds, my friends. The world needs a lot of light so that we can see each other's humanity clearly.