I think we should all be more obsessed with balance
On one hand, we are so obsessed with what is light and fun and fluffy in the world.
I think it’s important for our collective sanity, optimism, and happiness levels, for us to focus on this sort of stuff sometimes. To look at Internet pictures of puppies and piglets, to laugh at memes we tag our friends in, to eat expensive, ridiculous, but delicious fancy cakes, to dress up in something sparkly. To go on about how excellent this certain brand of hummus is, to light sparklers.
There’s a lot of shitty things in the world and laughing at a joke sometimes makes a dark day feel just a little bit less hopeless.
But at a certain level, all of this ‘good stuff’ that we focus on is actually a distraction, bits of fluff that we like to look at rather than those things with more substance.
These could be things that are good, that are happy making and enriching, but in a deeper and more meaningful way. Being in nature, really being present with the people in our lives we love, and expressing our love for these people in tangible ways. Looking after each other, and animals, and nature. In fact, doing things that aren’t for ourselves are maybe some of the happiest making things. Happiness is so great it doesn’t even need to be our first-hand happiness for us to feel its effects. I’ll come back to this doing things for the world thing.
It’s also very easy for us to be obsessed with everything that is wrong with the world. It can feel debilitating, and make you want to cocoon in bed forever because why-bother-with-anything-it’s-all-terrible-I-should-probably-sleep-forever.
While this isn’t helpful thinking, we do need to address it what causes it. We need to talk about it. If our only way of feeling better is to essentially look at something shiny and forget about it, the bad thing will come back, because we didn’t actually deal with it.
Here is where I think balance comes in, in two ways.
We need to balance how we think about things.
There are a lot of ways which we have power to make the world a better place, and we won’t use them if we only focus on how awful things are, rather than how wonderful things could be. And even how wonderful some things already are, to counteract the hopelessness.
There are a lot of ways which we have power to make the world a better place, and we won’t use them if we only focus on fluff, on distraction, on things that make us feel good but that don’t have really any lasting impact on the world. We also won’t use them if we never give ourselves fluff, because fluff is maybe a bit like battery recharging. Letting ourselves be a bit mindless but light and happy is like a low form of self-care, perhaps.
We also need to balance our actions.
We need to not be hypocrites, as much as possible. I think being hypocritical is one of the most unbalanced ways we can be: to put weight on something in theory, and not in action, is to tip the scales.
We can’t ‘aww’ at cute pictures of piglets, baby chicks, goats, lambs and calves and then wear them, eat them, eat their secretions, which lead to their being killed.
We can’t sit back and say, ‘oh isn’t it terrible that the world is dying and global warming is happening and we are all maybe going to die soon’ if we don’t follow that with ‘but here is what I am going to do to reduce my impact on the environment’.
Related side note: you can practically halve your carbon footprint by going vegan, you can refuse more plastic, carry your own coffee cup, metal straw and tote bag, shop more consciously and slowly, shop locally, walk more.
I think this kind of thought:action balance is important (maybe something we should even be obsessed with) because not only does it make us feel less hopeless, but because it’s not fair to exacerbate the amount of dark or scary thoughts we put into the space around us, without doing our bit to also alleviate the power of the dark and scary thing.
I think we would all be a lot happier if we found our happiness through giving, through making the world better, through a purpose greater than fueling our own self-serving pleasures. Basically, I think we should get obsessed with doing good.
We’d feel less hopeless about the world if we saw ourselves and everyone around us making it better.
There is a place for fluff in all of our lives – it’s a pit stop, a rest between all the thinking. But maybe if our thoughts around the world were constructive, we would need less of them – we’d be happier more, not because we stopped thinking about the problems of our world, but because we saw them, even slowly, beginning to mend.
One vote from Emma for (even slightly obsessively) balancing our thoughts and actions, and what we give power to.Return to issues