Thoughts on Spirit – November 2017

A Positive Perspective Helps

Maintaining a positive perspective on current national and world events is difficult at best.  There is much to concern us.  But it seems important to me to strive to develop a healthy, positive perspective in the face of our concerns.  A gloomy, doomsday-helpless view sours our whole life and mires us down in combative and quixotic reaction.  It achieves nothing for us personally or collectively.

Here are some thoughts I share to keep our spirits up:

First, it’s necessary to look beyond headlines, cable news and radically partisan commentary to free ourselves from gloom and doom, fear and anger.  Try not to spend too much time listening to or reading or talking about the same negative stuff over and over.  Take the facts, as you understand them, recognizing that they might not be 100% accurate, and think open-mindedly based on your own knowledge and experience; i.e., don’t be ready to render judgement too hastily on everything that happens or that someone does.

Listen to, and read, the opinions of others, who seem to be knowledgeable, thoughtful, and well intentioned, to help you form your own.  But do not jump on anyone’s bandwagon.  Be willing to change or adjust your thinking as situations evolve.

Remember that history and the evolution of the planet has been full of ups and downs… it is the way of everything!  It is the way of all Life!  Possibly we’re in a down right now, but there may well be good things come out of it, as has been so in the past.  We need to imagine what they might be and not be afraid to share our silver-lining thoughts with pessimists.  In a recent interview with David Brooks, Tom Hanks opined that along the rocky road to a more perfect union, “It’s going to be ugly periodically, but it’s also going to be beautiful periodically.” And Stephen Carter, in his book, Civility, says, “the only way to confront fanaticism is with love.”  In this case, “love” is listening to others and realizing that most of us act out of some genuine belief, rightly or mistakenly hatched.  We must do our best to understand where people we disagree with “are coming from.”  “Civility,” Carter emphasizes, “is the sum of the many sacrifices we are called to make for the sake of living together.”

Finally, we need to continually rekindle our sense of humor.  As Mark Twain said, “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.”

Joe McKay