Well 2016 has come to an end and it’s pretty easy to see that the majority of people were not thrilled with the happenings of this year. Social Media has been more toxic and depressing this year than I’ve ever seen it before; like, not even close. There were so many world events this year that brought me to giant tears when I looked at the news. There was controversy, brutality, strong opinions and strong words being thrown carelessly around as we’ve all tried to cope with the mess of things that have happened.
I’ve built a habit out of pausing when I see someone post something negative, and I try to find another angle or consider an alternate point of view before agreeing with the negativity. I have to admit, that’s been difficult this year. Without opening a can of worms and naming specific events, there are things that I just have no silver-lining for. And that’s something that can get you down pretty quick, when you simply can’t find a positive angle.
But thinking this morning, I found the silver lining. Not for a specific event, it’s a silver lining for ALL of it. Are you ready? The good news is this: YOU and your GOOD HEART are still here. And you have a GREAT capability to do much, much more than sit and wallow about the sorrows in the world. The silver lining is: You have a light to shine.
I have learned that life is all about priorites. Pick the thing that you care about most in the world, and throw your goodness into improving that part of the world.
If you care about politics, get involved. Go to Town Meetings. Call your representatives. Help with campaigns you support. Run for office! Help.
If you care about family, throw your goodness into your family. Love them, take care of them, spend time with them, grow together, help their lights shine in the world.
If you care about kindness, get out the door and find someone to be kind to. The opportunities are everywhere and those ripples spread FAST.
If you care about refugees, go volunteer at your local refugee center. Donate items. Get involved and help.
If you care about the poor, homeless, impoverished; help out. Volunteer at the food pantry. Donate to the shelters. Volunteer at a charity, research charities to donate to, or even start your own.
If you care about equality, be vocal. Stand up when you see injustice. Write letters for causes you care about. If you’re in a place of power, in the workplace or other, take measures to remedy inequalities.
If you care about important stories being told, get in on it. Research the news and share what matters. Contact your local news and share what matters. Fact check. Start a blog. Support others in the cause you care about, and join in.
If you care about wholesome entertainment, and the richness it can bring to life, get involved. Join a community theater or music group. Take a class. Research, audition. Write, direct, perform, compose. If you’re not a performer, volunteer to help out behind the scenes. When you find good wholesome entertainment, on TV or online or live, share it. Word of mouth goes far. These organizations you wish there were more of, they need YOUR support and help.
If you care about bettering the comfort and living situations of people, take action. Take care of your own living situation. Figure out what you love about it, and take measures to help others. It doesn’t have to be “charity” to make a positive impact on the world. Engineer products that will better people’s lives, and get them out for people to enjoy. Support companies and products that better your life.
If you care about spreading joy and laughter, your possibilities are endless. Tell jokes, play games, take people to amusement parks, play with toys, ENJOY life! And spread your enjoyment beyond yourself to others. Sometimes a little laughter is all the reboot someone needs in their life. Spend time with someone, and make it a positive experience. It will brighten both of your lives and motivate you to do more good.
Seriously, the possibilities never ever ever end. No matter your living situation, there is good you can do in the world. Acknowledge your current circumstances in full awareness, discover what matters most to you, and bloom accordingly. Hope is a powerful driver, and focusing on all the negatives in the world is a quick way to diminish hope. But finding a direction and purpose for yourself, in even a small way, can replenish that hope again.
I frequently sing with my children the song, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”
The “bushel” you hide your light under is the obstacles you put your focus on instead of the opportunities. The thing that can “blow it out” is the negativity that clouds your mind with hopelessness. Now remember here: Acknowledging something painful or harmful is not immediately being negative; naming the pain is an important step in being able to be brave and face the hard. You can acknowledge things as opportunities for you to help. Pointing out negative things only becomes harmful when you let it get you down, hopeless, and shy away from action.
“Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m gonna let it shine.
Don’t let no one blow it out! I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine!
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”
Another different kind of obstacle that many good-intentioned people face is the overwhelming feeling of wanting to solve ALL of the world’s problems. The goodness in the desire to care and help can be clouded by the false definition of importance, that you alone have to solve everything in order to have worth and impact. We need to come back to reality a little bit when these thoughts come, acknowledge how small we are, how good we are, and how many other good people there are too.
Every individual candle brings more light to the whole. Each light makes a difference. If a single candle moves too swiftly trying to light everywhere, it will fail, for it is too small to reach all areas at once, and the wind from all the fast movement will blow it out. It must shine where it stands, lighting its own corner of the world, and trusting the lights of others to light their parts of the whole. Look for the helpers and believe in the goodness of others. Even if a candle is moved to a new place in its life, it continues to be its job to shine wherever it stands.
When another candle goes out, the next candle does no good by standing there smugly, nor does it help by criticizing. The only way the other candle can help is by sharing its own light. By this, it will not grow dimmer. It will continue to shine, now brightened by its companion who shines again thanks to the love of another. Be a force for good. Shine where you stand, brighten the world around you, and love one another.
We’ve mourned many losses of great celebrities this year. It hurts, but it’s so beautiful to read all of the tributes to these great figures as we stop to appreciate their legacies. It is no secret that all of our lives are finite, as much as we hate to acknowledge death. But what’s beautiful to me is to see the good legacies that people leave behind; they live on through those good deeds. As compared to the number who mourned her loss, I think very few people were affected by Carrie Fisher in a face to face event. We were impacted by her legacy, the ripples she left behind in her beautiful hard work. She’ll live on, maybe never knowing quite the impact she made. Don’t measure your worth by the small line of sight you have in your life. Trust the ripples, for ripples go on forever. The good deeds you do to cause them will create your legacy; does it matter how many people attribute it to you, as long as you’ve spread goodness in the world? I promise everyone has made positive impacts beyond their own knowledge, through the ripple effect. Trust that.
Acknowledge things as they are, accept yourself as you are. Most importantly, acknowledge the good that you are already doing, trust the ripple effect, and continue making conscious decisions to bloom where you stand. Moment to moment, shine your little light. The beautiful thing is that you can. THAT is the silver lining.