By Lana McAra
How can we get anxiety relief? Can we find peace and joy in our turbulent world?
It seems that lately all we hear is bad news followed by more bad news. And when we see things start to ease up, they then get worse than ever. Sometimes I feel like Chicken Little and wonder where to run.
Yet, at the same time, those of us, who, like me, have more than five decades of life experience, already lived through the Vietnam War, Chernobyl, the AIDS crisis and 9/11. Many of us take a philosophical approach and say, “This too shall pass.” Lately, though, it’s difficult for me to stay philosophical. I frequently lose sleep over some occurrence that pierced my heart. Some of these events take me back to the unrest in the 1960’s that left so many of us traumatized.
Should I feel guilty for wanting to stay calm in the chaos?
I recently had a conversation with a dear friend, who is also in her 60’s. Unlike me, she is African American. We talked about the current craziness in the world today and shared our unique perspectives. At one point in our conversation, my friend said,
“I love my life right now. I worked hard to create this beautiful life. So, how do I reconcile my concern about what’s happening in the world and still enjoy this lovely life I deserve?”
That struck me. How do we handle the contrast? On one hand, we feel a deep need to remain at peace in our daily lives. On the other hand, we feel alarm at world events—whether it’s looming health threats or social unrest or government edicts. For that matter, how do we stay calm when our child loses a job or when someone in the family has a car accident or scary medical diagnosis?
Like my friend, I worked hard to create a home where I feel comfortable and safe. I also did the internal work to feel at peace within myself. Is it a cop-out to hold onto my serenity while the world is in chaos? Should I feel guilty for wanting to keep the peaceful feeling I’ve carefully put in place over these past years?
We live in a time of anxiety, but we don’t need to be upset all the time.
I have to admit, that question wouldn’t turn me loose. Days later, I finally found a way to understand how I might achieve a balance between concern for world events and the need to remain in my beloved calm place.
I understand that my anguish and anxiety doesn’t help anyone.
Does feeling bad help me? No. Does it help others? Not really. Have you ever visited with someone who was in a turmoil of emotions? Did they help you while in that state? No. In that place, they are the one that needs help.
We cannot raise others above our own emotional level. If we want to spread peace and love and help the world to be a better place, we must first feel peace and love ourselves. Only from that place of calm can we begin to make a difference.
How to make a difference
Take decisive action.
I ask myself, “What actions can I do today to help?” Can I call someone to encourage them, take toilet paper to a neighbor in need, or maybe host a special person on my TV show to give them a voice? Whatever I can do to benefit others, whether big or small, helps me to relieve my awful feelings of powerlessness and frustration. One person can make a difference.
Love is the answer.
Love is always the answer. What calms a crying child or the angry neighbor? Love. What boosts the immune system and helps the body heal? Love. What sends out a shock wave of peace and unity? Love. What rights the wrongs in the world? Love. Love. Love.
I set a goal to send love toward every individual that came within my awareness; during every conversation, every story on social media or the news, everyone who came to my mind while I sipped my morning tea. The Heart Math Institute says that loving energy travels out and helps people across the miles to feel stronger and more positive. Love truly makes a difference.
Over the past months, millions of words filled the news outlets and social media venues: some frightened, angry, grieving and desperate— others logical, deliberate, sensitive and sanitized. Some of the words helped, but most simply added more noise to the chaos.
From my peaceful space, I think perhaps the answer is to use fewer, more meaningful words and send out generous helpings of love. That’s what Gandhi did, and Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela. All of them lived in turbulent times, yet they lived in their peace, expanded their love and changed the world. So, can we.
“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lana McAra is a best-selling, award winning author and the TV host of “Now It’s My Turn!” for women over 50
originally posted June 16, 2020
updated June 17, 2022