Some days, I feel like I’m living in a weird survivalistic video game where the participants are so fearful of not having their own needs (whims, perhaps?) met that they will step over anyone and anything to get what they want. They cut you off on the road or in line…ignore your requests for help…and have eliminated the words “please” and “thank you” from their vocabulary.
It’s become a kill-or-be-killed society. Why? Because the message is of doom and gloom at every turn and the best defense is a good offense, and that means protect yourself at all costs. But this strategy is only making things worse.
We need to stop scaring the sh&t out of ourselves and others.
It’s no wonder that we—especially young people—are stressed, depressed and medicated like never before. We are surrounded by messages of fear and oppression wherever we turn. We have spent nearly three years afraid of COVID…and we hear about racism, unfairness and inequities all the time. In fact, we’re all told to be scared…very scared…of so many things that the country has become increasingly polarized with regard to both political and social issues. Global warming…social-media bullies…rising crime rates…illegal drugs, which kill up to 100,000 Americans annually, most of those deaths from fentanyl…even baby formula shortages! You name it, there’s someone or something to be afraid of. It’s all quite overwhelming.
The result is that we feel helpless and hopeless…and so we blame others for our problems while blunting out pain with prescription medications, alcohol or drugs. Some people still are hiding in their homes complaining that their companies want them to return to the office. Some even are quitting their jobs rather than returning to a life rich with purpose and social interaction. I simply don’t understand why people would choose to “ignore” rather than “interact”…“quit“ rather than “quest.”
How do we overcome the primitive need for self-preservation that is forcing us into this kill-or-be-killed mindset?
The answer: It starts with love.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the many different ways that people express their love. That blog was inspired by Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s book The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, which contained a letter from one of Schlessinger’s radio show listeners that included the most powerful and yet simple comment…
“In order to be happy and fulfilled, you must help, love and care for others. “
Help…love…and care for others. Wow! So basic and yet in an effort to survive the pains of modern-day life, we have stopped helping, loving and caring for others. I don’t mean that we’ve stopped loving our parents, spouses, children or even our best friends, but we’ve stopped going beyond caring for immediate family members and we are missing out on those moments of grace that take little effort but make a huge difference. I, myself, experience the fall from grace every day when someone cuts me off on the highway or doesn’t thank me for holding a door open. And I experience the magically great feeling every day when I let someone get in front of me on a crowded highway or give a hearty hello to neighbors when I’m walking my dog.
The truth is that when you give, you get. Helping others not only makes them feel good, it generates your own happy hormones—and that helps you feel good both physically and mentally. We can’t individually control the broader issues I mentioned above, but we can control our daily interactions and behaviors.
How can you help, love and care for others without giving away your soul? Just remember that little things mean a lot…
- Say hi and smile when you pass someone on the street.
- Offer to pick up groceries for a neighbor as long as you’re going to the store anyway
- Help shovel snow from a neighbor’s driveway or front walk.
- Let someone into traffic.
- Bring a meal to a friend who is sick…or offer to drive his/her kids to after-school activities.
- If you’re crafty, knit or crochet a hat for a friend. My mother-in-law is part of a quilting group that makes quilts for women and children in shelters.
- Support local children when they have charity events—car washes, raffles, bake sales. They may not do a great job washing your car, but their pride and joy is well worth the donation.
- Bring home a bouquet of flowers—or just a single flower— for your partner…just because.
- Check in on an elderly neighbor with either a phone call or an in-person visit.
- Instead of getting annoyed at your spouse or children over little things, just love them for who they are as well as who they aren’t. Pick up those socks from the floor, or wipe off that kitchen counter as you remember all the other great things that they are and do.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about saying “yes” in the context of having a positive attitude because it allows you to take action and be in control of your life. Well, how about saying yes to spreading some love?
It’s been more than 50 years since Burt Bacharach and Hal David let us all know that…
What the world needs now
Is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now
Is love, sweet love
No, not just for some, but for everyone
Those words have never been more true.