Stress, burnout, anxiety. These are the epidemics of our time—yes, epidemics: like infectious diseases, states of unease can be highly contagious.
But unlike their viral counterparts, these contemporary epidemics are the result of a fairy tale that isn’t serving us so well. That tale is this: material wealth is everything, compassion for all of life is worthless.
We’re in this story together. So if you at times feel tapped out, lonely, and unsure about your place in the world, I’m right there with you. This system we live in drives many of us to exhaustion, and it increasingly denies us the means to fully explore and actualize our human potential. It’s not my intent to spread gloom—this is our reality, and avoiding it only prevents change. The way out of it, our path to wellbeing, is to wholeheartedly confront the issues before us, and to treat ourselves and others with as much patience and love as possible.
Real wellbeing is not about coping, as coping is about minimizing and tolerating. Should we tolerate habits/situations that drain us? Should we cope with and tolerate a system that exploits and alienates us? No way.
I used to scoff at statements like “change begins within.” I’d think: Get real. The world is going bonkers—and we need to do something about it! It’s true that we must do something about the violences and injustices in the world. Yet it’s illogical to expect collective cooperation if we as individuals lack peace in our own lives. We can’t effectively work with others if we’re caught up in and/or creating discord. Recognizing and unpacking our internal baggage is doing something—it’s a way of acting as the change, by being the sanity we wish to see in the world.
Real wellbeing is about transformation. It’s not something we can buy in a “lifestyle” or find in self-help “gurus.” Rather, it’s in what we can give—our courage to say what isn’t working, in our lives and around us, is a huge step forward. Sometimes that requires changing the inner dialogue, as when we experience feelings of worthlessness. At other times we must take a public stand, risking marginalization and ridicule for challenging orthodoxies.
Above all: Wellbeing is a state of compassion. We need strong compassion for ourselves to stay grounded and energized. The stability and resilience we gain from that is our means to act wisely in the world. Wise actions are loving actions, and loving actions are the roots of true social change.
Wellbeing is a practice—it’s an ongoing effort, because our personal and societal circumstances are constantly shifting.
I’m not claiming to have the answers :). I’m just aiming for my slice of truth—and hoping I can make positive contributions toward a happier, more peaceful humanity.
What’s your truth? If you’re up for sharing it, please leave a comment below. Conversation is a powerful way to escape the box of isolation. We’re social creatures. We need one another.