Fight for something. Not everything.

My intent with this one is not to get political. My intent is certainly not to tell you what’s important and what’s not. That’s up to you and only you. It does, and should, look different for everyone. My intent is to help create a sense of connection, belonging, and passion while reducing the stress and anxiety that can come with the overwhelming amount of negative information blasted at us 24/7. I feel for our kids who never knew any different.

I am dating myself here, but when I was growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, life was relatively simple. Not perfect, but less busy, in the negative sense of the word. We walked to school, walked to a friend’s house after school most days, and either played outside or listened to the radio in hopes that our favorite song would be played. We played on our local sports teams or got involved with after-school extracurricular activities. News came via the daily paper or on the evening news. The “daily dose” of current events was metered. Today, unless you’re a social-media-free kind of person (bless you, I’m jealous) or intentionally live a simple and technology-reduced life, you’re blasted with information at a blistering, stressful, anxiety-producing pace.

There are so many topics one could be passionate about, get involved in, or fight for: Youth mental health, the opioid epidemic, black lives matter, diversity, equity and inclusion, LGBTQ+, international conflict/war-torn countries, bullying, global warming, local issues, gun violence, and the list could go on forever. It stresses me out to consider all of the negative events going on in the world and also how divided we have become as a country over them. The barrage of negative information, coupled with the VOLUMES of information, positive or negative (or somewhere in between) is a lot for the human brain to handle.

For some, this creates pressure to know about everything, to have an opinion about everything, and a sense of obligation to do something about everything. Unless you’re the President of the United States propped up by a massive team, this is literally impossible.

Not to digress too much, but technology overuse can result in attention deficits, reduced dopamine levels, reduced physical activity, memory impairment (You ever have trouble recalling simple words? Me too.), reduced sleep, reduced cognitive performance, reduced attention, social/emotional intelligence, and social isolation to name a few (see references section). Oh, and you think you can multitask with technology and other tasks? You can’t.

Here’s my charge to you:

Step one, identify what you are most passionate about? Deep down, what fuels you? What interests you right now? This should NOT be what you *think* you’re supposed to care about and what society implies should be important to you. Just stop that. Get honest with yourself. You’re more likely to put the work in and make a difference if you really, truly care. Priorities and values will almost certainly change over your lifetime, depending on your life experiences and stage in life. For me, it’s currently things like personal and community health, personal growth, mental health, and of course, anything that impacts my kids: education, physical health, family, etc. That’s where I put my time and energy, and I don’t try to address all of those things all at once. I encourage you to pick a few topics, but not 10. If you haven’t already tried this exercise, hone in on your values first, then let those guide you.

Step two: consider where you can have the most impact? Consider your work and life experience, your connections, and a sphere of influence (we all have it in some way). Consider HOW you can have an impact. Through your job? Volunteering? Lobbying? Educating yourself and others? Showing up for a friend? Just your way of being in the world? There are hundreds of ways to have a positive impact on the world. Think about the ways that make the most sense for you. Oh, and by the way, it does NOT have to be a major sweeping effort. Sometimes, a lot of times, it means just showing and being kind to others, offering empathy and compassion, and recognizing everyone is going through something. It sounds simple, and sometimes it’s difficult, but being kind is possibly one of the most important things you can do.

Step three: (I’m sure to be unpopular here). Let the rest go. Yes, I mean it. Stop mentally engaging in negativity and being enraged by everything all the time. It’s exhausting, mentally draining, and stressful. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Does anger help you show up in a better way? Does going down that social media rabbit hole really educate you and help you become a better person? If yes, then great, go for it. But I seriously doubt it. Not only will you become less able to effect change, but you’ll also personally suffer for it. I am not saying we should all bury our heads in the sand, naively pretending there aren’t horrible things happening in our world. I am simply saying, “Pick a thing,” and then go make a difference in the world.

Love to you all. Go make a difference, one small thing at a time.



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