By Umair Haque
Death. Destruction. Chaos.
All before my morning coffee has even kicked in!!
How do you cope in a world where every time you look at a headline it tells of a new disaster? How do you manage not to lose empathy, stay focused, and continue to fight the good fight?
Now, I’m not telling you to avoid the news or social media; far from it. i think it’s important to be informed and connected. but what you shouldn’t do is dwell on what you take in.
What do I mean by that?
I mean taking everything you read to heart and allowing it to color your whole day until all you see in the world is death, destruction, and chaos. If I dwell on the news too much and find myself endlessly staring at my phone scrolling…scrolling…scrolling…. I find myself doing nothing and feeling awful. But we find ourselves continually drawn to our devices constantly plying us with the latest capital-H ****HEADLINE!!!!*** Does this actually keep us informed or does this just perpetuate a cycle of self-abuse and self-destructive behavior?
The underlying world order is not like this; and often the news emphasizes the worst of humankind to us. For every terrible thing you read/see/hear make a point to do one good thing in the world. Even if it means just noticing a flower blooming, smiling at a passing child, or holding the door open for someone. Our worlds are made up of these small, tiny acts of kindnesses and each one will bring you closer to leading the kind of life you want. Treat each little act like a sacrament of kindness, or nurturing to yourself and focus on it. Only when we begin to do these things can we truly change the world.
We often speak of “tiny acts of kindness” as a duty that we have to others. And while that’s true, it’s maybe truer that these acts keep us sane. They keep us in touch with what is best in us. They keep us grounded, humble, empathic, warm, and giving. They put smiles on our faces for the right reasons. Not the sneering grin of victory, but a gentle happiness that we feel because we are at home in the world. Not above, not below, but beside. They remind us what matters most. Not politics, economics, scandal, or outrage. But all that is right before our eyes. Life, love, beauty, goodness, and truth.
Umair Haque is the Director of the London-based Havas Media Lab and heads Bubblegeneration, a strategy lab that helps discover strategic innovation.