We keep saying that 2016 has not been the kindest year known to mankind. To be fair, it has not been the worst known to mankind, either. However, it has probably been the most dismal in my adult life, full of harsh reminders about how cruel our world can really be. Whenever you are watching war footage on the news or hearing derogatory commentaries about any group of souls, it is tempting to simply shut down. To flip the switch into the “off” position. To become harsh to keep away the harshness. Unfortunately, that is the thing we should most avoid. The Golden Rule so aptly quotes “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and so we must take heed. I for one, would love have a world that is a little bit softer, a little bit kinder, but it is hard, I do not lie.
Point in case: The neighbors took down their Trump signs recently, much to my relief. I feel horrible that each time I walked by their home, a little bit of anger welled up in me. I thought worse of them for it. I judged them for doing this to me, to us, to their country. But what does my judgement accomplish? I do not know their life; they do not know mine. So instead of being harsh, perhaps it is best to smile next time I see them and say hello. They didn’t cast their vote to hurt my feelings. Everyone is doing their best, whether I understand their motives or not.
And that is just the thing: everyone is doing what they think is best. Even if they are wrong, they have something in their mind that is making them think their choice is right. The only way to combat this attitude is to treat them with kindness, education, and love. No one enjoys being told they are in the wrong. Surely as I type this, no one enjoys being told they are wrong from a harsh, smug attitude. Thus, we must remain soft, kind. We must be the example – the change we wish to see.
Yet, you may ask, how do we soften the edges of our persona when we are surrounded by images of war, of mass shootings, of sick and dying children, when we see racism in our every day life? I have gathered a few ways mentioned below, but I am very interested in you adding to the list.
Surround yourself with beautiful things. The types of things that make you happy down into your subconscious: plants, fresh flowers, crystals, your favorite book lying in the floor next to your bed. These types of things will subconsciously make you happier on a day to day basis.
Read poetry. I was gifted a used (!!!) copy poetry by good old Mr. Robert Frost for Christmas. Read, read, read. See what other found to be lovely, and focus on those things.
Pray. I am a prayer. You mightn’t be. You don’t have to be. But if you do not pray for the courage to be the best version of yourself, at least set aside a few minutes to meditate, journal, do whatever you can to be that person.
Clean and tidy. A tidy space leads to a tidy mind. I personally find this to be cathartic and makes me calmer, more peaceful, so I have more patience and clearer breaths.
Create good smells. I choose incense, but do what you must to make your home a place of positivity. Stovetop potpourri and candles are also good options.
Give to someone less fortunate. Shelters are in need of winter wear this time of year. Buy some quality winter socks (for both genders), knit scarves, grab some gloves… do whatever you can to prevent someone growing raw with winter’s winds.
Perfume. I know I said make your home smell good, but I can’t emphasize it enough. Perfume makes everything feel just a touch more special.
Wear beautiful underwear. It might sound silly, but when I am wearing something lovely underneath, I feel just a tiny bit better about myself, which turns into feeling better in this world. Lace cures all ailments of the mood.
Try a happiness photo journal. We are not talking about works of art, really, but a project to keep around moments of happiness. Try one week, and photograph something each day that makes you happy.
Compliment one person a day. It can be anything, from the color of their lipstick to saying they have good taste in food or literature.