Crazy world by Kaspa Thomspon
The world is always changing. For some people the recent past has been a period of relative stability and prosperity. For some people life has always been a struggle. Whatever your experience, glancing at the news headlines shows us how difficult life is in many places around the world, and shows us that whilst difficult times can turn into good times, good times can also turn into difficult times.
How can we retain our own sense of balance and stability in the midst of a world like this?
Keep good company
We are profoundly affected by the people we spend time with. We start to soak up their attitudes, their language and their way of being in the world. If we spend time with people who are interested in doing good things, then we start to become interested in doing good things. If we spend time with people who are hopeful, then we start to become more hopeful.
Does this mean we should cut ourselves off completely from "negative" influences? No. It means making sure we are part of a community which inspires and supports us so that we can go on to have supportive contact with all sorts of people.
Spend some time alone
We are social creatures, and contact with other people is vital. But as we move through all sorts of different interactions with others, we can become tired. Even good communities can be draining sometimes. Spending time on our own, doing something nourishing, allows us to re-enter life with others feeling energised and refreshed.
Feed your mind
Our bodies are affected by what we eat. If we eat good food, we feel lively and healthy. Our minds are affected by what we give our attention to. Notice how you feel after getting lost on Facebook, be curious about the hidden assumptions in the novel you are reading, or the TV programme you are watching. Give your attention to things that take you outside of your comfort zone, read things that leave you feeling more intelligent, or that make you feel good.
Make a difference
When we contribute to making other people feel better, or improving our communities, or the environment it feels good. It feels good because we are beings that enjoy meaningful activity and the most meaningful activity is that which lifts up others somehow. When we act for ourselves, it can feel good, but when we see our actions allowing other people, or the world, to flourish, it feels even better.
The more we can allow ourselves to be motivated by good for ourselves and others, the better we will feel, and this is something that can keep building and building.
Doing good in the world, making a difference and supporting others are all crucial ways of keeping ourselves feeling happy and grounded. And doing those things can also take us outside of our comfort zones and leave us feeling tired. We are ordinary people and we get worn out. We should make sure that we have elements of all the things I have talked about in our lives. Spend some time nourishing ourselves, and then go out into the world and spend some time nourishing others. Work out the right mix that works for you. Different people are different, but we all need some of each of these elements in our lives.
Kaspa Thompson is a psychotherapist, mindfulness teacher and Buddhist priest. For info on therapy and mindfulness classes see: www.kaspathompson.co.uk and for his local Buddhist group see: www.amidamandala.com