Social media opens all these windows into people’s lives. One sees much more than one would like to, a lot of the time. Young people’s anger and despondency and generally hostility broadcast in disappointed detail for all the world to see. Why? How does it help? Are you looking for pity or sympathy? Validation? Well maybe you’re looking in all the wrong places. Social media is hardly reflective of the real world. Stop trying to find meaning in it.
First know this. You are not alone. People everywhere succumb to thoughts of futility and despair just watching TV, scrolling though Twitter, or cruising the highway with its eyesore billboards proclaiming the end of the world all the way down to Florida. We are bombarded on a large and unrelenting scale with widespread bad news and fear mongering. This type of propaganda is what keeps the well-oiled cogs of the media industry turning profitably – because we buy into it. Stop!
You have got to make your world smaller. Take back control. You are responsible for you, and most of what the propagandists want to bait you with has no bearing on you whatsoever. Look into the ‘now’, this moment, and start there. Put on something nice. Make your bed. Do a load of laundry. Clean the kitchen counter. Stop judging yourself by what other people are doing (remember very little actual un-sensationalized real life gets broadcast on social media) and what other people are supposedly saying. What other people think of you is not your business. If you start making that your business you will be offended for the rest of your life (Deepak Chopra) and ain’t no-one got time for that!
Honestly, true meaning is found in being true to yourself and as counter-intuitive as it sounds, the first step to finding your own meaning and contentment in life is to put yourself in service to others. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Start smiling at people. Give three spontaneous compliments a day. Put a bird feeder in your window (but not if you have an outdoor cat!). At work listen to your co-workers and clients without interrupting or one-upping them. Who knows, you may have something they need, even if it’s just an ear.
Being true to yourself requires exploration of life outside of the comfort zone. It also requires less focus on the future. All those worries, insecurities and trepadations you harbor … those are merely ‘maybes’. Five hundred years ago French philosopher, Michel de Montaigne, said: My life has been filled with terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened. Subsequent studies (written about in The Worry Cure by Robert Leahy) illustrate that 85% of what people worry about never even happens and with the 15% that did happen – most people discovered they could deal with the outcome better than they thought they could.
Despondent status updates splashed across the media channels arise from not being in control. Legendary Coach George Raveling says that if you can control the environment in which you live – the people you associate with, the books you read, what you watch on TV – then you can create the necessary environment to live a peaceful and productive life. We have a lot more control over our lives than we realize that we do.
Now, in this moment, take control. Put on something nice. Make your bed. Do a load of laundry. Clean the kitchen counter. When you’ve done that look around and see what you can do for someone or something outside of yourself. You think it’s difficult to make a difference? It’s not. Start here maybe.
I know it sounds trite but it’s truly fundamental. What do you want to do for yourself? Write it down. On paper with a pen. Then write down a small thing you are going to do towards that goal and do it.
Genius German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said : Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Don’t update your status. Your authenticity is not found in likes and comments on a computer screen. The world does not need to know.