I was planning on beginning a blog post series on living an extraordinary life. I am having trouble today creating a post because, I woke up this morning to hear about 58 people losing their lives, hundreds of wounded and thousands experiencing first-hand a mass shooting in Las Vegas.
This now becomes the question: How can you have an extraordinary life and be happy when life has the polarities of the good and the terrible.
Today it is a mass shooting, last month it was three hurricanes, before that it was Orlando….and “oh yeah, how is your average Syrian doing?” How do you hold onto goodness when there is an example of horrible darkness recorded and displayed over and over again on all our news media outlets?
First, I want to talk about the goal. We have a high value on happiness in this culture. I find the goal of happiness is tough to arrive at and hard to permanently sustain, as happiness is an emotion and all emotions are temporary. The goal for me is well-being. I love to be happy….but sometimes I have to let that go, as happiness doesn’t work for me when life delivers news like it did this morning. Positive thinking also isn’t the answer for me when it seems wildly out of reach and disrespectful to those who are suffering. I can ask myself what would be in service to my overall well-being given all that I have seen on the news today.
All I can offer is what I do. Perhaps in sharing my process you will find one you can duplicate or be inspired to create a process of your own.
- GET INFORMED – I gather as many facts as I can from many different media outlets both liberal and conservative so I get as close to what is real as I can. I make sure I am not in an echo chamber.
- I GIVE – I see if there is a way I can be of service or give money to help those going through the tragedy.
- I TAKE CARE OF MYSELF – I will be gentle with myself today and take it easy if I don’t feel like pushing myself. I spend an extra few moments petting my cat, I fully appreciate my family. I change my blog post from the one I was going to do to this one, which is more authentic and therefore easier to write.
- GO ON A DIET – I restrict my reading or viewing anything that causes me to live the terror and trauma as if I was there.
- I CREATE – Even though this terrible thing has happened, what do I want to create? Goodness and kindness come to mind. I will get very focused on the world that is right in front of me and see find the good. I commit to bringing goodness and kindness to everyone I come into contact with.
- LOVINGKINDNESS – I practice Lovingkindess Meditation. I close my eyes and completely relax my body. I repeat these phrases:
May I be happy
May I be safe
May I be healthy
May I have peace
I repeat this phrase, switching the “I” in this order: To myself, to a loved one, to someone I know is hurting, to a difficult person, to my community, to the world, to all beings everywhere.
The world is both a lovely and a terrible place all at the same time depending on where and when you are standing in it. All we can do is choose how we want to respond to what is happening and commit our lives and practice being what we want to see more of in the world.
Please feel free to use the lovingkindness meditation below in your practice.