Focusing on matters closer to home
It is pitch black outside, save for a streetlight or two.
It’s very quiet and peaceful. The air is calm and still.
And I’m lying awake thinking about North Korea.
The worries I have about the future and the world like to turn over in my mind on a constant loop at 3 a.m.
Most of what I fret about that time of the night is not anything I can control. Worrying won’t change a damn thing. If worrying could solve the North Korea problem, I would have solved it by now. I repeat to myself: Control only what is controllable.
While a lot of what’s going on in the world might not make sense, and often the news seems unbearable, it is important to remember that not everything is out of our hands. We do have control over our behavior and we can identify and work on problems closer to home.
Sometimes we are focusing so much on the big picture we miss out on the people right in front of us on a daily basis — our spouses, kids, friends, neighbors and co-workers. We are all members of communities and each of us can play a part in making those better and stronger.
It starts with being mindful of the impact you have on people, be it a family member or a complete stranger.
A kind gesture can turn someone’s day around. It can be as simple as saying please and thank you or holding a door for someone. It’s sending a card to someone on their birthday. Or offering to stay later at work so your co-worker can leave to be with their sick kid. It’s remembering what is important to the people who are important to you.
It’s also making a donation, volunteering, or buying gifts and clothes for needy children. These are activities you can do with your kids that help them build empathy and compassion.
Kids also learn that a funny thing happens when you start being nicer to people; they start being nicer to you. Kindness becomes as contagious as a cold going around a child care center.
In a world where success now seems to be measured by how mean you can be to someone or how many likes you get on a Facebook post, we have to be purposeful in setting a good example and show our kids what real success looks like — and that’s being a good human and a good citizen. What greater gift can we give to the next generation?