Hope is Easier to Find When We’re Looking For It

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

There’s an old saying that comes to mind this morning – you can’t ignore the elephant in the room. As a comedian, that meant if a waitress drops a tray of drinks in the middle of your show, you had to say something funny about it. “Just set those down anywhere!” That was a time-worn favorite. Not that the servers enjoyed it too much. On the other hand, if they hadn’t dropped the tray in the first place …

Something I learned early on is that if you single out the wait staff for anything, they had ways to elicit payback. Like throwing beer bottles in a trash can right next to your audio recorder or talking loudly with the patrons at Table 2 in the middle of your funniest joke. One of the first rules we learned is to treat the club staff with respect. Still, when that elephant appears, you can’t just pretend it’s not there.

The elephant, in this case, appeared yesterday afternoon for the whole world to behold, and we can’t just look the other way and whistle softly as we walk past. The spectacle in our nation’s capital was one of the worst displays of human behavior most of us have ever witnessed. And I’m not entirely sure it was a one-day thing. I guess time will tell.

But, in any discussion of positivity and trying to elevate our lives to a higher level, we can’t just ignore events like this as if they don’t exist. This is a very real part of the world in which we live. An ugly part, to be sure, but I’ve often said we sometimes need the really bad days to help us appreciate the good ones. Without a frame of reference, good becomes mediocre. Just another day in Paradise.

We can lay the finger of blame for yesterday’s events in several different areas, and we’d probably be right on each of them, at least to some extent. But people don’t behave this way just because they’re bored and looking for action on Saturday night (or Wednesday afternoon). They don’t do it because one person suggests it. And they don’t do it because they feel wronged. They do it out of complete despair.

Now, we could talk for hours about the root cause of that despair, and I’m sure we all have our opinions. And I do believe there was an element of opportunity that factored in, a chance for some very angry people to lash out in the safety of a large mob. But it’s hard to completely separate anger from despair. They feed one another and, left unchecked, the result is predictable – almost inevitable.

To be sure, some people seem to choose a life of anger and despair. When things are going well, they actively seek controversy and discord. I’m no psychologist, but I believe it stems from a basic lack of inner peace. They can point their finger at any number of reasons for their anger, but the fact is it originates from within. If we want happiness, we have to be willing to find it and embrace it.

There are very few things we can truly control in life. We can’t control the weather. We can’t control the economy. We can’t control how other people behave, and we have only limited control over our own health. What we can control – what we must control – is our reaction to these events. Because it’s our reaction to the world around us that defines our level of serenity.

That doesn’t mean we’re happy about everything. I’m appalled at what we saw in our nation’s capitol yesterday, and I have my own feelings about the people who fed that anger. But I can’t change any of what transpired. The only thing I can change is my reaction to it. I can choose to sulk in a corner, lash out online, take to the streets in anger, or try to turn a national embarrassment into something constructive.

We all have the same power. We can’t dig through a pile of negativity and expect to find hope. The thoughts that control our outlook are a direct reflection of the thoughts we consume. Eat enough carrots and your skin will turn orange. It’s inevitable. The same is true of our brain – garbage in, garbage out. That’s why it’s so vitally important that we put more emphasis on controlling what goes in.

History will judge yesterday’s events and the political motivations behind it, but I wonder if our grandchildren will read anything about the underlying emotions that drive such behavior. It’s easy to analyze and assign blame. But it all starts from within. Until we control our thoughts, we’ll never be able to control our actions.

Find something uplifting to focus on today. You may not be able to wipe out the negativity, but you can certainly dilute it. And on the worst of days, that’s enough.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2021 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

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