If you’re anything like me, you’ve been feeling a lot of emotions lately about the current state of our world.
Sometimes it seems like everywhere we turn, there’s another natural disaster, mass shooting, political outburst, racial injustice, or some other tragic occurrence happening in this great country (or world) of ours.
And, sometimes it feels as if the answers are right there, staring us in the face — if only the “people in charge” would just listen! — and other times, we know the solutions are much more complicated.
Personally, I’ve realized that I feel the problems of our world pretty deeply sometimes.
I may be a proud Slytherin, but I’m also a sensitive soul with a big empathetic heart.
And honestly, feeling this much can be really distracting at times.
Can you relate?
So how do we get back on track? How can we use these big empathetic hearts of ours to drive good in this world?
First, allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling
Before change and action can occur, first we have to be patient with ourselves allow our feelings to process.
- Take care of yourself
- Let yourself run the gamut of emotions without self-judgment
- Binge-watch a few episodes of a mindless comedy
- Pop open a bottle of wine and vent with like-minded soul sisters
- Get some fresh air
- Take a walk in nature
- Listen to the perfect playlist, and when you find the right song, listen to it on repeat
- Pour out all your thoughts and feelings into a journal — no holds barred and no judgment
Whatever your method of dealing is, give yourself time to process. Sometimes this can take a few minutes, hours, days, or even weeks. Don’t be too hard on yourself — let yourself be emotional, and it will be easier to move on when you’re ready.
Doing a good deed for someone else is an excellent way to give yourself a mood boost. Putting that good energy out into the world will make you feel better and you’ll make someone’s day a little brighter (double bonus!).
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Give a friend (or teacher, or colleague, or stranger) a Starbucks gift card
- Rake a neighbor’s leaves or mow their lawn
- Leave a random note somewhere for someone
- Do something around the house without being asked (take a look around — what could be done to make your partner or roommate’s life a little easier?)
- Write a card to someone and mail it. (Not sure what to write? Tell them 3 of your favorite things about them, reminisce about your favorite memory with them, or just tell them you love them and you’re thinking of them. Everyone loves to get something other than bills in the mail!)
- Offer to babysit a friend’s kids for an evening
- Surprise someone with a home-cooked meal
- Give someone an unsolicited compliment
- Send someone a bouquet of flowers
- De-clutter. Donate or sell everything you don’t use or need.
Get creative with your generosity
If you don’t have a lot of money or time to spend right now, luckily there are tons of ways to make a big difference with little effort:
- Avid online shopper? Shop through Amazon Smile and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization (at no added cost to you!). You can choose from nearly one million organizations to support.
- Ask your social network if anyone is raising money for something in particular. There’s usually someone raising money for a 5K or some other cause. Even if you only donate $5, you’re helping to make a difference for that person!
- Loan money to a third world entrepreneur through Kiva. By lending as little as $25, anyone can help a borrower start or grow a business, go to school, access clean energy or realize their potential. For some, it’s a matter of survival, for others it’s the fuel for a life-long ambition. 100% of every dollar you lend on Kiva goes to funding loans.
Support organizations that align with your values
I know it’s easy to feel useless when there’s so much going on in this world (not to mention everything that’s going on in our personal day-to-day lives!). But I know if enough of us band together, we can use our big empathetic hearts to create actual good in this world.
Whether you’re able to donate your time, money, resources, skills, or something else, I encourage you to research organizations that align with your personal values and the things you wish you could change about the world.
Not sure which organizations to support?
Check out DoSomething.org. This website allows you to fill out what you’re passionate about, how much time you have, and what you’d like to do, then the system will give you ideas of ways you can help make a difference and organizations you can support.
Here are some timely & relevant organizations I love to support:
Everytown for Gun Safety
Everytown is a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities. Gun violence touches every town in America. For too long, change has been thwarted by the Washington gun lobby and by leaders who refuse to take common-sense steps that will save lives.
But something is changing. More than 3 million mayors, moms, cops, teachers, survivors, gun owners, and everyday Americans have come together to make their own communities safer. Together, we are fighting for the changes that we know will save lives.
Everytown makes it so easy to call your representatives. They give you information about the matter at hand, a number to call, and a script so you know exactly what to say. Could it get any easier?
I’m passionate about this issue because my family has lost someone to gun violence. In 2015, my cousin was murdered by an angry former co-worker with a past of violence and mental instability who was able to purchase a gun legally and easily.
This mass shooting trend in our country is growing at an alarming rate, and if we continue to do nothing, every person in America will know someone whose life was ended far too soon because of this unnecessary violence.
Life After Hate
Life After Hate was created by former members of the American violent far-right extremist movement. Through powerful stories of transformation and unique insight gleaned from decades of experience, they serve to inspire, educate, guide, and counsel.
Whether working with individuals who wish to leave a life of hate and violence or helping organizations (community, educational, civic, government, etc.) grappling with the causes of intolerance and racism, Life After Hate works to counter the seeds of hate we once planted. Through personal experience and highly unique skill sets, they have developed a sophisticated understanding about what draws individuals to extremist groups.
I believe the answer to our problems will be resolved through communication with each other. Especially in our current political environment, it can be easy to cast each other aside just because someone in our social networks is on a different side of the political fence than we are, but ultimately, this will only make things worse.
Laugh. Have fun. Live your life
It’s hard to see it sometimes, but there is more good than bad in this world. We can absolutely do our part to make sure we’re putting out as much good into the world as possible, but it’s important to keep living our lives.
Which causes are you passionate about? What are your favorite ways to spread goodness in the world? Tell me in the comments!