What To Do When the World Feels Offtrack

In these moments we find ourselves in, it’s normal to feel discouraged.

I certainly do.

There’s pain aplenty. You don’t need me to list examples; we both know them.

So the question is: When the world feels offtrack and we’re discouraged about it, what are we to do?

If there were a crystal clear answer, we’d all be doing it. But there are a few things I’ve found to be helpful.

First, acknowledge we’re discouraged (or angry, sad, despairing). We can’t paper over a true feeling. But we can recognize it, and bring some warmth to it; the world is hurting, and so are we. And when we bring love to the part of us that’s suffering, when we give that wounded part the attention it needs to recover, we’re much better primed to take purposeful action.

Second, choose one to two things we can do that are meaningful for us. Discouragement, sadness, anger - those are all forms of energy. And we can redeploy that energy into a few useful acts. Only a few, though, not all of them. Otherwise, we start Monday doing Everything and by Wednesday are depleted and stop doing Anything. The most meaningful undertakings are the ones we can sustain.

I donated to a friend who’s running for local office, and each day, I spread her message to other friends. I’ve doubled down on taking shorter showers.

There are 101 other things I can do. But these are things that energize me, which means I can keep them up, which means they are more impactful.

Third, take stock of the things we’re already doing. And I’d venture to guess you’re doing plenty. Perhaps it’s recycling or taking junior staff into high level meetings with you, biking instead of driving to work, buying fruits and vegetables and breads locally, giving monthly to causes that matter to you.

Just because things went awry doesn’t mean that our existing efforts aren’t worthwhile. They are. And things could have been much worse if we hadn’t been doing them. Our efforts only stop being worthwhile when we stop doing them.

Finally, know we aren’t alone. We are not Atlas holding up the sky on our shoulders. We cannot and will not save our world single-handedly. So find our sisterhoods and brotherhoods who are hurting, too, and wanting to do something about it. Connect with them, feed off of them, let them feed off of us.

Our world is a gorgeous thing. It has gotten offtrack before. And it gets pulled back on track by people. People like you and me.

Come, let’s continue this worthy project.

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