I used to be so passionate about the state of the world. So vocal about the injustices. I would get into heated debates about my theories. If in the wrong company I’d get shot down in conversation and told that certain things were just unfortunate coincidences.
I didn’t follow the 2000 US general election at all, but took an interest in states-side politics after reading Michael Moore’s Stupid White Men in 2002. It sparked something off in me. I was absolutely outraged to learn of the things that government (allegedly) did to get into the White House. People have gone out of their way to discredit Moore, but when you read up on everything he went through to get the book published, it adds even more weight to his words. In my humble opinion of course.
I loved and despaired of his film Fahrenheit 9/11 in equal measure. I watched The Zeitgeist and I believed.
People took to the streets of London and protested in their droves, but Iraq still got invaded. As did Afghanistan.
I used to be so sad about what was going on in the world. I would scope out the people I knew were aligned with my thinking and turn the conversation to politics after a few drinks. I’d scope out the people who weren’t and bring up my theories just to make them uncomfortable. How could they be so blind?
In stark contrast to four years previous, I followed the 2004 US election with great intent. I was utterly incredulous when he got re-elected. What kind of idiots were living in that country?
I had a similar feeling earlier this year when the Tories won the UK election.
I can’t even bring myself to write about the current US presidential candidate race. It’s depressing and scary and outright bonkers.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still sad about these things. I don’t agonise over them any more though, I don’t let them keep me awake at night.
You see it’s not that I don’t care, or lack empathy, far from it.
I woke up one day and realised that I, like everyone else, have limited resources. Limited energy that is much better spent on my little family.
How hard it was to make peace and put my past behind me.
How incredibly challenging our lives are made each and every day by autism.
When just keeping my head above water some days, and rising above what’s going on inside my own four walls can feel heroic, how on earth can I possibly take on the worlds troubles as well?
As the fabulous (and very handsome) Andrew Lincoln said in my all time favourite film…
“It’s a self-preservation thing!”
What to do instead then?
I’m not saying for a second that everyone should shut themselves off and live in a bubble, but I do think a media detox (especially of the social variety) helps to boost our happiness when we’re feeling overwhelmed by what’s going on in the world. It’s too easy to hone in on the information we want to consume, which is often negative and does us no favours whatsoever.
I also think it’s great to pick a worthy cause or two to properly get behind, and do some good amongst the seeming never ending shit.
It might not be much, but it means a lot to me knowing that I’m able to use my blog to help raise awareness of issues (such as the Children’s Society #SeriouslyAwkward campaign); and bring comfort to other folk who are experiencing dark times (with posts such as this and this).
We don’t have excess cash to donate to charity, but I donate all our old clothes, toys and general bits and bobs. I only ever buy clothes second hand in charity shops; which not only provides funds for them, but is kind to the environment too.
I sign petitions, which often get to parliament and make a difference. Not all of them admittedly, but that doesn’t stop me from signing everything I feel something towards.
These are a few things I am able to do from the comfort of my own home. Good deeds are never completely altruistic, but they stem from good intentions, and I don’t think we should be ashamed to admit that we feel good for doing them. Anything that boosts overall happiness is a win in my book.
Do everything you can to enhance the happiness of your own world
I became a lot happier when I stopped wasting my energy getting upset about the thing I couldn’t control.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, rather than feel rage and anger at the state of the world, look inward, and do something positive to enhance your own happiness instead.
Trust me, it makes all the difference!