I know a lot of people who struggle to reconcile the philosophy that they should “think positive” and “you are what you think, so focus on things that make you feel good” with the fact that we are surrounded by so much evidence that all is NOT right with our world.
Environmental disasters, terrorist attacks, police brutality — sometimes it can feel overwhelming. What can we do about these things? And how can we justify focusing on “feeling good” when there is so much pain in the world?
The truth is that there are multiple ways to respond to the pain and fear and brokenness in our world, and each of us responds differently. The key is to figure out your contribution — not by using your head to identify what you think you “should” do, but to listen to the guidance of your heart.
If you want to increase your impact, take a look at what Stephen Covey’s idea of Circle of Influence vs. Circle of Concern. Imagine two circles, one inside the other. The larger, outer circle contains everything we care about, from the price of vegetables to global warming to needing to clip a hangnail that’s been bugging us.
The smaller circle — what he called the Circle of Influence (but which I would call the Circle of Impact) contains that subset of things that I can PERSONALLY do something about.
The more you focus on the area outside your Circle of Influence — meaning the more you worry about things which you can not personally control — the less energy you have to do what you can such that your Circle of Influence becomes smaller.
The flip side of this is that the more that you focus on what you, personally, have control over, the greater the impact that you can have such that your Circle of Influence can become larger.
This is a large reason why so many in the Wisdompreneurs community focus on personal mindset and how we choose to see the world: because it is one thing which, with enough inner work, we can have nearly 100% control over.
Take, for example, my recent personal post regarding Donald Trump. Instead of talking about how awful he is (which made me depressed and anxious and helpless), I chose to focus on what lifts me up:
By choosing a response which is aligned with who I am and how I want to be in the world, I felt stronger and inspired to continue to touch others’ lives, inspiring them to stand for love, faith, and gratitude. In the long term, I believe that is a sustainable method of making the world a better place for everyone.
Having said that, I am well aware that this is not the only approach. There are people who truly are Social Justice Warriors. They thrive on battling what they see as darkness. They contribute a different type of energy to our common human experience, and I have a great deal of respect for those who do so with the fullness of their hearts.
Whether it’s by sword and shield or by planting a garden, we each need to find our own way to nurture our unique Circle of Influence, and when each of us does this, together we are changing the world.