3 min read
The current world situation is disturbing to say the least. The pandemic, climate change, social justice, war. It seems that every time I look at the news or social media there is another disaster or disheartening situation happening. I’ve been finding it hard to keep my eyes and ears open and not get sucked down into despair.
Late last year I watched an online summit called Activating Hope. The opening talk was by Jane Goodall, co-author of The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times. She began by going over all the problems we currently face. She covered everything I was concerned about and added in a few new ones that I hadn’t even thought of!
Then over the next four days, speaker after speaker began to offer hope by sharing stories about the projects they were working on. Learning about so many positive initiatives going on around the world really helped lift my spirits.
But this year continues to be extremely challenging. The division in Canada highlighted by the convoys. The Russian invasion of Ukraine. Once again, it’s hard not to spiral down into despair and apathy. Despair when I think about what’s going on in the world and apathy when I don’t think about it – neither of which is a good thing.
I’m currently reading a book where the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu share how they stay positive, and actually joyful, during trying times. They reminded me that “often what we think is reality is only part of the picture. We look at one of the calamities in our world … and then we look again, and we see all those who are helping to heal those who have been harmed.” 1 It’s true. I see this every day in the news and social media. Beautiful stories of humanity at its best. Encouraging, hope-giving stories that help me stay connected to the world without falling into despair about the future.
Also helping me are two of the messages I took away from Activating Hope – get involved in change and have a regular spiritual practice.
I know the regular spiritual practice part is key for me. I need to get out in nature for a walk, meditate, read, and connect with others. These are all part of my spiritual practice.
But how to get involved in change when it comes to conflict in the world? I’ve started attending online group meditations for peace and healing. This feels really helpful. I had been sending love and peace to areas of conflict as part of my personal practice but being part of a group feels much more powerful.
And according to some studies, lifting my mood affects more than just me, “your current state of mind carries an intention that has an effect on life around you. The mind continues affecting its surroundings whether or not we are consciously sending an intention. To think is to affect.”2
I know I don’t want to bring more fear into the world by only focusing on the bad things that are happening and then imagining a bleak future. So, I’ll keep the Dalai Lama’s words in mind when I hear the news, “if you let your imagination run wild, then you exacerbate the situation further and then bring more fear.” I’ll do my best to adopt “the wider perspective” and see that “there are many more positive things happening in our world.”1
And, I’ll keep taking action in the small ways that I can … meditating, writing letters, signing petitions, and supporting worthwhile organizations. Because as Jane Goodall says, “The antidote to depression and lack of hope is taking action.”3
1 – The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams
2 – The Intention Experiment by Lynne McTaggart
3 – Jane Goodall, https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20210318-why-jane-goodall-is-hopeful-in-2021