Musings on Crankiness
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
To say there is divisiveness in our country today is an embarrassing understatement. The atmosphere of divisiveness, anger and doom is making me, and I strongly suspect others, very cranky. Crankiness never used to be a part of my nature and I don't like it much. So I decided to do some research and hopefully, do something about it. The first step was to examine my belief system; the second step was to evaluate my actions.
My good friend J Mitchell Perry, PhD tells me, "Your state of mind has a huge impact on the way you conduct yourself. Your ongoing beliefs determine a tremendous amount of the way you look at reality and apply those perspectives. When you believe you are defective, and weak, you are... on the other hand, when you believe you are good and worthy, you are. So, which one do you want to believe?"
Dr. Daniel Amen, a leading neuroscientist and psychiatrist conducting research on brain waves, has established the differences between optimistic and angry thinking. When the study group was asked to focus on their anger their bran wave scans no longer appeared normal, the waves resembled the scans of those suffering from schizophrenia. Watching TV news, reading newspapers or other sources of news which focuses on negative facts, or anger or resentment, contributes to our own sense of alienation, frustration and even anger.
I am grateful to Bernice Ross of the Inman Group for bringing to my attention the book "Speaking The Language of Miracles" where Deana Scott, the author, suggests that you separate yourself from the situation. The situation is not who you are but instead the conditions that surround you. Examples of a "situation" include the media, bad news, drama, gossip jealousy, hate or he said/she said circumstances.
Once you can refocus your beliefs on your strengths as suggested by Perry, and you can separate yourself from the situations that surround you, you can begin to identify and implement solutions.
Most of us limit our circle of friends to those like us. We tend to socialize with people who earn roughly the same amount of money, live in the same neighborhoods, come from the same backgrounds, and look the same as us. David Brooks, New York Times contributor, calls this "coherent communities." Coherent communities will fight to defend the norms that hold communities together. For example, they accept immigrants who assimilate to existing culture, but they'll be suspicious of those who they feel bring in incompatible customs and tear at the social fabric of the community. I would suggest that out of your coherent community, you spend more time with those who are optimistic and happy versus those who walk in pessimism and drama: both optimism and pessimism are contagious; you have a choice. Taking on solving any of our national problems maybe akin to boiling the oceans, but today you can do something positive or useful on a smaller scale. The first step is to choose your state of mind.
For me this was a good exercise. Fortunately for me the practice of law allows me to help people and do useful things. I just need to return to what brings me happiness and fulfillment. What will you do?