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

News Isn’t a Bad Thing – Taken in Moderation

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

Feels like it’s been forever since I last wrote. There are times when the mojo takes a detour and finds somebody else to spend its time with. That’s what happened with me last week. I wish I could blame it on work or household chores, but the truth is I wasn’t any busier than normal. Sometimes the brain just needs a break. Of course, some brains need a little less than others.

I’ve learned a couple of things about myself over the past several months. I know, at my age, you’d think I’d have it all pretty much figured out by now. After all, it’s not like I’ve taken on a new identity. But I’m not the same person I was even a year ago. Keeping up with me is like shooting moving targets in a carnival arcade game. Crooked gun and all.

I’ve always felt it’s important to at least stay abreast of current events. People say ignorance is bliss and if that’s true, my oldest daughter should be the happiest person on the planet, at least when it comes to the news. Two hurricanes could hit the Gulf coast in the same week, and she wouldn’t have any idea. I’m not exaggerating. It happened just a few weeks ago.

But you know, there’s something to be said for that. Sure, it keeps you in the dark to a degree, and if you live anywhere near the Gulf coast, that could be an important tidbit of news. But there’s a certain mental relief in not dwelling on things you can’t change that won’t affect your life in any meaningful way over the next few days. Like tonight’s dinner. Does it really matter?

I’ve always felt a need to stay abreast of current events. Not necessarily that I can do anything about them, and I’m certainly not one of those people who changes his 401k investment strategy based on today’s gas prices or who won last week’s debate. I’m not that smart. If I tried playing the market, I’d lose big. Well, not “big” … you have to start big to do that.

Still, I like to know what’s going on in my world. Not for anything more than a sense of being informed and being able to form an educated opinion that nobody still wants to hear. But I’m learning that, the more news I consume, good or bad, the more it weighs on my sanity. And sanity is not one of those things I can afford to spare. Again, you have to start big.

I guess the news itself wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for all the “informed” commentary by people who think we need their opinion to help decipher what we’ve just read or heard. I laugh every time I see a headline that says, “How to watch this week’s debate.” Um … turn on the TV and watch? Duh! Maybe I’m not as smart as I thought I was.

And just in case you missed the real thing, social media is overflowing with opinions on who said what and the underlying “truth” everyone else seems to have missed. Only problem is, most of those “opinions” are somebody else’s – people see something that speaks to their own beliefs and pass it along as gospel to anybody looking for “facts” to support their own opinions.

There are two problems with this. First, you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet. That’s a direct quote from Abraham Lincoln. I’ve even seen his picture with those words. And second, you don’t have to know everything about everybody else’s life in order to live your own. It’s reality TV without the script. At some point, you have to seriously ask, “How does this affect me?”

If the answer is simply that it informs you, then put it in perspective and get on with life. If it’s something you can’t possibly change, stop agonizing over it. No amount of worry or anger will make a difference, except to your own mental well-being. And make no mistake, we are in uncharted territory right now, and we need all the marbles we can hold onto.

Being informed is a sign of intelligence. But too much information can clog the pipes and keep you from focusing on what’s really important. Get what you need and move on. Because, one thing you can be sure of, when the dust settles and this is all behind us, you’ll still be left with the life you put on hold in the process.

Remember the Serenity Prayer. There’s a lot of wisdom in those words. Focus on the things you can change and find a way to accept the rest. Storms are an inevitable part of life. But a clear mind and healthy body are your best bet for making it through to the other side.

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

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved