Like so many Americans, this election had me in tears. Tears of sadness. Tears of frustration. Tears of bitterness. Tears of what could have been. My brain literally has been unable to comprehend how I live in a country where the majority of my fellow citizens are standing behind someone who is the antithesis of goodness and logic. I have stopped trying to understand it (at least for the time being), and instead am using it as a time of reflection on the themes and lessons of this election that apply to other areas of life beyond politics.
- We are far too passive. We talk about needing change and wanting to change, but what do we actually do to make that happen? We want new jobs. We want new career opportunities. We want more social opportunities. We want to get healthy. We want to lose weight. We want to save money. If you want it, go get it. Stop waiting for someone else to do it for you.
- The universe has a way of giving us things at the right time. Sometimes things are meant to happen despite what we really, really REALLY want, for reasons that we are not supposed to understand at that moment in time. If we got everything we wanted when we wanted, we would never evolve. I strongly believe life is about timing and being patient for what is meant to be. (For the record, I am not a particularly patient person and it has taken me a long time to understand that great things can happen with patience). There is more to learn from events and relationships that do not always come easily. Challenges and failures are what make us better, more evolved.
- Speaking of evolving, we never stop. As much progress as we make, there is always more to be done. There is no cap nor timeline on being open-minded, caring, kind and selfless. No matter how great or ideal anything may seem, it is naive to ever think it is perfected or ends there. Whether it is acing an exam or running your first mile or spending a day feeding the homeless, it does not end there.
- We need to adapt our communication styles to appeal to the other side or the messages, no matter how dire or important, will be lost. Hear what they are saying and find ways to address them on their terms. Let them feel like you are speaking to them, not at them. Let them know you are taking the time to understand them. (Spewing hate or calling someone ignorant is probably not going to motivate them to ever be open to a different perspective).
- Always strive to understand the other perspective whether you agree with it or not.It is impossible to get past differences and step outside of yourself if there is blatant reluctance or refusal to even understand the other side.
- Know when to walk away and know when to fight. I know that I have walked away from people, places and situations sooner than I should have. I also know there were times I did not walk away soon enough. Sometimes we walk away because it just seems easier or that staying means we have to face some possible ugly things, which could be in others and could be in ourselves. Sometimes walking away is the right thing to do (we would never encourage a friend to stay with an abusive partner). Yet, lets never lose sight of what is worth fighting for. Choosing to fight or not fight should not be based on the challenge of it.There are things worth fighting for in this world and chances are, they will knock us down before we get back up. Fight for your loved ones. Fight for your beliefs. Fight for those who can’t do it themselves. (And for heaven’s sake, fight for your country! #shamelessplug)
- We should not allow one event to define us. My life, my character, my beliefs are not based on any one thing. I am who I am for an ongoing lifelong compilation of events, feelings, choices and people. Bad and good, they make me who I am. I refuse to be considered any less American today than I was one week ago.
- Sometimes you have to take a few steps back (ok and in some cases, hundreds) to take one step forward.
Think of these lessons and reminders not just in terms of this election or our country. Think of yourself. Think of your interactions with others. Think of your wants, your ambitions, your goals. Think of your family, friends, colleagues, neighbors and even strangers. Think of how you fit into the grand scheme of things. Think of each of us as having our own individual obligations to live up to while still being part of a bigger, more powerful collective responsibility. We are part of one universe, one space. Let us all learn to respect what it does for us, even if we cannot always see what we want to see.