My #HappinessUnites Tour hasn’t reminded the world (YET) that more experiences unite than divide us. Until then, I’ll tour on for as long as it takes to show 100+ places and experiences that unite people.
Some days it appears that we are more divided than ever. We’ve always had differences, but there was a time, not that long ago, that we respected our differences. Now, our differences seem to create teams. For example, it feels like it’s gotten to the point that if we don’t like the same brand of mustard, we’re on different teams for everything else in our lives. In most cases, this REALLY isn’t true: A few differences of opinion usually don’t, and shouldn’t, define the essence of our being, nor pit us against one another.
So, how do we keep our happy in a sea of magnified division? Personally, I try to consider the following when I’m trying to determine if differences are important:
4 Ways To Keep Your Happy During Divisive Times
Keep Your Happy – Does It REALLY Matter?
When I read a Tweet, Facebook or Instagram post, or when someone says something that makes my blood pressure rise, I ask, “Does it really matter?” I notice people are getting their panties in a wad over stuff we won’t remember a month from now, much less a year from now.
When I moved to Florida, a friend that I’d been estranged from for a couple of years had read about my new job in the newspaper and stopped by the office to wish me luck before I moved. Once I saw her, I couldn’t remember why we quit talking, although at the time we did, it was a big deal to me. That experience taught me that sometimes something we’re mad at in the moment won’t matter in the big picture, so it shouldn’t define our long-term actions.
From natural disasters, to global tensions with other countries, to political decisions that will impact millions of people, there are dozens of seminal issues about which people need to stay informed. We need to be good citizens and stay aware of current events, but we do not need to be consumed by the debates. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t get involved: We can do our part by volunteering, donating money, or contacting our elected officials so that we are part of a solution and not just complaining about our concerns.
But if an issue won’t be remembered a year from now — like what someone is wearing, for example — then it doesn’t need to get a public reaction. Maybe a private chuckle if you’re inclined…
What really matters are the things that impact your life, the lives of those that you love and global humanity.
Keep Your Happy – Compassion Creates Respect
There was a time I was idealistic and very black-and-white about issues. I believed all actions created consequences, and that we were responsible for our actions. I didn’t fully understand that all experiences weren’t self-created, and sometimes something bigger than one experience drives someone’s actions.
This philosophy drastically started changing in me the night before we were going to take my mom off of life-support.
I’d come home for a couple of days when we thought rehab might be an option, so I had to fly back to Beaumont. While I was sitting in my surreal hazy fog waiting to board my plane, I remember thinking, “Everyone here thinks I’m probably going to the beach or to visit family for a fun weekend. They have no idea that tomorrow will be one of worst days of my life.”
On the outside I looked fine, but inside, I was devastated because I was giving up hope that my mom would be a miracle patient. I’d already snapped at Annie, one of my best friends, when she took me to the airport. Who knows how I was coming across if someone spoke to me about anything?
That moment taught me that it really doesn’t matter what I think I know about someone. Anyone can appear to be functioning on the outside, including people that I know, but on the inside, they may be struggling to do something as natural as breathe.
When I don’t understand why someone acts, thinks or feels different than I do, I try to remember I don’t know their experiences. However, if I can relate to them through the eyes of compassion, it’s easier to respect BIG differences.
Keep Your Happy – Being True To Me
Above all else, I try to stay true to me. Despite anyone else’s actions—even the ones I disagree with or dislike—I try to make sure their actions don’t change mine.
For me, the test benchmark is this: How I would respond to a stranger in a certain situation is the same way I need to respond to someone I know in a similar situation. Even when I know despite appearances someone really isn’t my friend — like when I know they’ve said not nice things about me behind my back. Or if someone I am close to did or said something hurtful, intentional or not, and the hurt still hasn’t healed. Or when someone acts in ways I may think is inappropriate. These situations always provide an opportunity for me to grow.
Staying true to my best or aspiring character cuts down on negative noise. It also reminds me that I’m in control of my actions. If for example, I see a disturbing post or someone wants to have a conversation about a topic I know it’s pointless to converse about, I can chose to engage or not.
Everyone has and is entitled to their opinion—including me, but I can decide who it’s worth sharing it with.
Keep Your Happy – The 6 People We Spend The Most Time With
They say we become the collective sum of the six people we spend the most time with. I’m not sure if it’s true, but it makes sense. Do the people with whom you spend the most time with lift you up or tear you down?
I think about this when I chose who I spend my social time — and social media time — with. It’s not that everyone needs to agree with me. In fact, some of my favorite people are the ones who help me understand something from a different point of view — that’s how I learn. I also want my besties to be honest with me if they think I see a situation from a limited point of view—mine. People who lift us up are also the people who help us grow. However, we still love and respect each other even when we have different opinions.
In a nutshell, I find that I keep my happy during divisive times when I:
- Ask if something really matters
- Let compassion create the bridge to respect
- Stay true to myself
- Spend time with people who help me become my best self
Ironically, keeping my happy has very little or even nothing to do with looking for silver linings, meditating, or even thinking positive – it’s mostly about being happy with me. When I’m happy with me, it’s easier to happily navigate any divisions in my path.
Now, it’s your turn. I’d love to hear about what helps you keep your happy while you’re navigating the twists and turns these divisive times have created. Feel free to leave a comment below, I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!