I hear a lot of complaints lately. The President sucks. Or the president doesn’t suck, but those who think he sucks suck. Or people not caring about the environment sucks. Or people who believe in global warming suck. Terrorism sucks. Meditation sucks. Sexism sucks. Racism sucks. Religious discrimination sucks. People who care about others suck. Getting cut off in traffic sucks. Overpriced anything sucks.
The list of complaints could be endless. And for some it is. It seems that we are more prone to complaining when we feel helpless. When we believe there’s nothing we can do to make a difference in a situation. Sure, simply thinking about fixing the entire environment can feel overwhelming. Or imagining how to convince all of the uber angry individuals around the world that peace and understanding is actually an effective alternative to blowing one another up seems impossible.
It seems impossible and feels overwhelming because of course we can’t make any major world change completely by ourselves; however, it is only as many individuals making individual changes that we can make quantum leaps worldwide. So when you’re feeling helpless here are three quick and easy things to do instead:
The go to immediate solution to all things hard. Take a moment. Seriously. It only takes a second to take a deep breath but it can have a profound influence on how you feel. It creates a bit of space to see things differently than you might have the second before. It connects you to all that you are experiencing in that moment. You don’t need to have all the answers or know what to do in any one moment. Breathe as long as you need to until they come to you. The more you try to force solutions usually the worse it becomes. So whenever you find yourself not knowing what to do next just breathe and breathe again if you have to. We all have to breathe anyway. Might as well make it conscious.
Look at Yourself
Perhaps this isn’t necessarily easy, or quick, but it is necessary. Angry about violence around the world? What about your own anger? Is it actually helping situations or instead contributing to violence in any form? If it spurs us into action to improve a situation then it’s helping. If instead we project that anger into the world either as an empty complaint or onto someone or something else we’re actually in our own small way contributing to the larger issue. We know the answer to this by how we feel afterwards. If we feel more calm and centered we’ve used it to our advantage but if we still feel angry then we need more practice. The best way to contribute to world peace is to create peace within yourself.
Take a Tiny Step
Often when we feel overwhelmed we don’t take any action because it seems like it won’t make any difference. So we do nothing and continue to feel overwhelmed and helpless. However, doing something, anything, can alleviate that and provide motivation and hope instead. Whether that’s working on your own anger, donating to a cause you’re passionate about, or learning more about an issue that’s been bothering you, pick something you can do and do it. Even if it isn’t related to the issue you’re upset about. Simply smiling at a stranger is a tiny step that can have immense ripples. The most miniscule step has the potential to inspire you to take more in the future and also motivate others around you to get involved, which ideally would spiral toward more massive change.