Tuesday, August 9, 2011

One by One

I don't think anyone could say they can go an entire day without being reminded of what's going on in the world. Not that you'd want to turn a blind eye but hey, sometimes people get really, really bummed out about what's happening. And when they try to remain in the dark, people seem to get upset that they would purposefully go out of their way NOT to be informed as to the plights of the world.

Well today I'm going to side with those people. For the most part.

When you stop and consider all the problems of the world, you start to make a mental list. Will that list ever end? No. So automatically, how bleak is that? There are so many problems just within our own cities, let alone our County, our State, our Country, our Continent, and our World, that it quickly becomes overwhelming. And to go one step additionally, there are already so many problems in your own life that already hurt you, when you're reminded of their relative insignificance on the grand scale of things, you kick yourself for feeling bad in the first place because it's all relative.

Well, today I'm going to ask you to do yourself a favor. Or to do me favor, however you'd like to look at it. Because I think you'll see that by doing yourself a favor, you end up doing a lot more than you would accomplish simply by feeling bogged down with frustration and sadness.

Start with you. Seriously. Just you. If you had to make that little circle-y Venn Diagram we always had to make in school, to compare and contrast the likenesses and differences between two things, and one side were the good things in your life and the other side was the bad things, would there be more bad things or more good things?

So, for the sake of argument, let's say the circle with bad things is bursting at the seams and the circle with good things is kind of ok-ish filled...maybe. And the oval in the center where the circles cross paths has a picture of a Dog in it because you got bored for a few minutes.

When you list or consider the bad things in your life, does that list incluse things like:
  • The National Debt
  • World Hunger
  • Libya
  • Egypt
  • Japan
  • Africa
  • Something terrible happening in another state
  • Something terrible happening in a country you've never heard of
  • Something terrible happening right now that you don't know about yet, but deep down know is happening because the world is a terrible place where bad things happen all the time and you know you'll hear about it on the news within the next fifteen minutes because all the news does is talk about the bad stuff
Look at your quick mental list. Does it include any of those above or anything like that?

If so...why?

Look, you know me. Mr. positive happy happy, cheer up, keep up the fight, let's all Love one another and make peace. And when you're inundated with twitter or Facebook posts from positive people, or read motivational things, or have to listen to nothing but what it means or how to be happy, do you start to get annoyed? Why? Is it because deep down you know that your problems are really very, VERY serious and no one but you can really understand them and you don't need this positive crap fed to you all the time, you can work it out, you're a big kid, you just need to deal with things in your own way.

But for a second, just stop. Stop it. What can you do RIGHT NOW to solve the National Debt problem? What can you do to end homelessness in America at this very moment?

Exactly. Nothing.

Nothing immediately, that is.

If the list of things that are wrong with your life or are bad about your life include things that are out of your control, why are you letting them tear you apart?

I'm not saying we put a stop to our pursuit of world peace. I'm just suggesting we change our methods. Before you focus on an epidemic affecting a country you've never been to, focus on you. Only someone right with themselves can be right with the rest of the world. And yes there are big problems we can help with, but do you know what the BIGGEST problem for you would be? To neglect yourself. And do you know what the biggest problem of the world would be? To be without you.

Stop letting that circle of bad stuff burst and spill over into the circle of good stuff, at which point you're never really sure when you feel good. You're not sure if you're happy or sad, and if you feel happy you know that it's really only a matter of time until you're sad again and really...what's the use?

Stop it.

Everyone knows the Pay it Forward theory right? Or a snowball effect? Do you know what starts trends? We do. Positive trends, negative trends, fashion trends, feeding the poor trends, all those things start with people. I doubt that anything created to save the world began as a group of one thousand people simultaneously standing up and saying, "Go! Save it! Go now! All of us! Together!"

No. It was one person with an idea that spread and spread and spread.

Too often the focus is put on trying to solve the problem in one fell swoop. And the focus is put on solving external problems that, at this moment, are out of your control. Remember, if you're no good to yourself, you're no good to the rest of the world. If you lie awake at night, restless, losing sleep over nightmares of stopping the violence in Libya, what good are you going to be to that country if your dream is to go over there and do something about it? No good.

If you don't first take care of yourself, the work you hope to do, the lives you hope to save, none of that will ever happen. But if you start with you, on making sure YOU are happy, you'll soon find you've got many good things in your life. So much so that you want to share them with other people. So you go out and voila, things start happening.

It's when you try to fill that void with other things that none of it feels real. No matter how much good you're doing, there's still so much to do and the job never ends. But stop putting the focus on the fact that the world's problems never end, and put that focus on the fact that your problems can end and if you're lucky, you might even be able to help some people come to the same place. And more importantly, you may not be able to end the big problems of the world, but you sure as hell can save lives along the way. For once in your life, let that be good enough. Stop worrying about the things you have not achieved and live with the proud knowledge of the the things you HAVE accomplished.

Amazingly enough, people around you will do the same, and other people will, and those people, and those, and those, and those, and on and on and on! And looky what you did there. You really started something. Somehow, some way, some kid in some country you've never even heard of is going to find that lesson, is going to find out how to make himself happy. And sure he isn't the whole world, but he's someone. And maybe it happens years after you die, or maybe it happens and you never know it and neither of you ever know one another. But who cares? The idea is, if you find personal happiness, it radiates from you. You know how they say "Wow she's really beaming?" Or "He's just glowing with happiness" and it's like you can actually see this light around the person they're so happy? You can have that too, you know. It's real.

If you're one candle, and everyone on earth is one candle, all together it's one very big light. The light of the world in fact. But instead of spending your time sitting alone, in your room, wallowing in your own sorrow, why not spend that time out in the world celebrating your happiness? Celebrating the very fact that you're alive! Sooner or later the candle will burn down, and you have the choice of being one of two things, a flickering little flame that started a BIG fire that changed countless lives, or a little melted, sad puddle of hardened wax in the corner of some dark room.

There's a quote from the Buddha (and that a friend of mine likes a lot, for good reason) that goes, “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

 And know that shared happiness promotes more happiness right? Stop going out of your way to find other people who can help you continue to feel miserable. Stop going out of your way to find new drama. Stop wasting your life and start living it!

I've been told to stop talking many times when I try to look on the bright side, or make others do so. The reason is usually because I don't understand whatever the problem is. Well who cares. I love you and I like feeling happy and there's nothing anyone can say or do to stop that, and maybe I can't save the world, but I can do my best to save one person. Because really, that's enough.

One by one, love can spread. And with it comes joy, comes peaces, comes happiness and understanding. It isn't one by 7 billion. That's impossible. It's one by one. And because of that, maybe some day, it can be 7 billion by 7 billion. What did the Three Musketeers say?

All for one and one for all!

(Huzzah!)

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