The Times We Live In: A Mindful Approach – How to Live with Courage and Love in a Time of Fear and Hatred


It’s a tough time to be alive. We live in a time where hate crimes are a regular occurrence and where random acts of violence appear on the news every other day. We live in a time where normal people are killed mercilessly as they do everyday things like run marathons, attend parades, have a night out or simply walk around the neighborhood. This is a time where it’s much easier to focus on everything that’s going wrong – it’s a time that’s making it much harder for us to see the things that are actually going right.

We post on social media and express our disgust, fear, hatred and sadness about the events going on around us, and we focus on everything that’s bad in this world. In a sense, we rubberneck as the car accident happens, and then we spread and perpetuate the experience of fear and negativity by posting photographs and commentary online. Very few of us are doing anything to solve the problem – we simply point out what is wrong, and then social media allows the fear and hatred to spread like wildfire. The more we focus on the negative, the bigger it seems. The more we focus on the negative, the more it becomes all we see. What we need to recognize is that this world is not “going downhill*” and that the people performing these acts of violence don’t illustrate society as a whole – they illustrate a small, hateful population that is getting a lot of press.

*note: current US election not included in this sweeping generalization about the world not going downhill

I want to challenge us to focus on the good things that are happening in the world. I want to challenge us to focus on the positive events that still exist and have always existed – the positive energy that we’re actually inhibiting by spreading the fear, hatred and negativity. This isn’t to say that we should be ignorant; we should all be aware of the events that are unfolding across the globe. But what we should do instead of throwing more hatred into the mix is to throw more LOVE out into the world every chance we get. We need to break the cycle of negativity by interrupting it with love. What if instead of focusing on the random, unexpected acts of violence, we focused on performing random, unexpected acts of love? Could we cause a domino affect that would break the cycle, setting off a new chain reaction? What we look for in life tends to be what we find. What we focus on changes our experience of what happens. Our thoughts manifest – and this isn’t touchy-feely spiritual nonsense…this is physics.

Negativity is a defense mechanism, and it’s a defense mechanism that is outdated. It stems from survival instinct – we almost use negativity to try to “prevent” bad things from happening to us. In this day and age, we don’t need that – it doesn’t help us. We can’t prevent bad things from happening, and our very focus on them is what gives the fear and hatred fuel to multiply. Negative thoughts create negative actions, which in turn create more negative thoughts, actions and events. We need to develop a new, better defense mechanism – and that defense mechanism is called positivity. If we focus on positive energy and the good things going on in the world, we promote a cycle of love, acceptance and gratitude – and it multiplies.

Here are the things we should be focusing on and the things we should be doing more of – especially in times like these:

  1. Focus on positive energy and events
  2. Focus on the beauty in this world (it’s everywhere!)
  3. Focus on the good people in this world
  4. Focus on the love of our friends and family
  5. Focus on our goals
  6. Focus on giving love to others in spades
  7. Focus on helping others
  8. Focus on our similarities and not our differences
  9. Focus on our humanity
  10. Volunteer time to help others
  11. Promote love
  12. Promote courage
  13. Smile more
  14. Hug more
  15. Show your love more frequently
  16. Spend more time with your loved ones
  17. Focus on the things you want to do, and do them
  18. Make sure every day of your life is happy
  19. Make changes if you’re not happy
  20. Appreciate everything. Little moments, big moments, and everything/everyone you have
  21. Forgive people who have wronged you (let go, for yourself and for them)
  22. Keep looking up
  23. Create beauty wherever you go
  24. Be so, so grateful to be alive.

Why don’t we focus on the great things? Let’s become fountains of love and positivity. Let’s be so, so, so kind to one another that we soften the hardened hearts around us and prove that there is still so much boundless love to be found in this world. Let’s keep looking for the light, always.

The most incredible nothingness.

We are the most incredible nothing, and the most incredible everything.

“If you are aware of a state called is, or reality, or life, this implies another state called isn’t -or illusion, or unreality, or nothingness or death. You can’t know one without the other. And so as to make life poignant, it’s always going to come to an end. That is exactly – don’t you see – what makes it lively. Liveliness is change – it is motion. You see, you are always at the place you always are…and you think “Wowie, we’ll get that thing. I hope we don’t go further down so that we don’t lose what we have.” But that is built into every creature’s situation no matter how high or how low. So is this sense, all places are the same place. And the only time you ever notice any difference is in the moment of transition. When you go up a bit – you gain, when you go down a bit you feel disappointed, gloomy, lost. You can go all the way down to death. Somehow, there seems to be a difficultly in getting all the way up. Death seems so final. Nothing seems so very very irrevocable and permanent. But then if it is, what about the nothingness that was before you started? On the contrary, it takes nothing to have something. Because you wouldn’t know what something was without nothing. The most real state is the state of nothing. See if you think of this idea of nothingness as blankness, you haven’t understood it. Nothingness is really like the nothingness of space, which contains the whole universe. All the sun and the stars and mountains, and rivers, and good men and bad men, and the animals, and insects, and the whole bit – all are contained in void. So out of this void comes everything and you are it. What else could you be? Because you are really nothing. But this is the most incredible nothing.” – Alan Watts

Gray

i see you in smoke rafters the beams, the cigarette butts falling between the grates

i see you in the stillness of candles, the slow burn, the flickering of desire

i see you in music and every time i pick up my dusty guitar the ashes fall off and you linger in the shine

i see you standing there.

i see our breakdown, i hear you say “you just told me you didn’t love me” i hear the break in your voice

i feel it die in my chest

you sit hunched over in that familiar position with your boots on, staring at the floor

i see flowers i see ashes i see the light that once was, the sun how it shone when i heard your voice

i see you in street corners. alleyways. the fleeting glance of a stranger rushing by

i see gray. the dull pain, the end.