The past year has been a time of nonstop disruption, upending and destabilizing institutions that we often took for granted. Yet throughout history, cataclysmic events have often been followed by times of spiritual awakening.
When almost everything we rely upon has been ripped away, we have two choices. We can either fall into despair, hopelessness, and resignation — and all the paralysis and demoralization that come with that — or we can dig deeper and find the truths and values that sustain us.
Instead of agonizing and worrying, find an alternative that feeds your soul. We see there’s a trend going on that people are starting new hobbies, reading new books, trying new activities. The way your neurons are fired dictates how they will be wired. So don’t get stuck thinking, “How am I going to react to this global disruption?” Instead, think out of the box and say, “What am I going to do to strengthen myself and others around me?”
Here are steps to help you find peace in the midst of quarantine and chaos:
1. BOND & BRAINSTORM: Focus on the people and experiences that you love and connect with. Dedicate extra time to speak with your family and friends, reinforce bonds, address fresh ideas, initiate joint projects, and brainstorm together.
3. DETOX FROM DISAGREEMENTS: Usually knowledge is power, but not if it just feeds our anxiety. If our media consumption leads us to feel frustrated, angry, worried, or disempowered, it’s time to reexamine our habits. Lower the volume of all this turbulence, because it is just inundating us with all kinds of information that doesn’t necessarily help. Avoid “doom-scrolling” and partisan political or sensationalist and conspiracy theory platforms and sites. And by all means avoid getting sucked into arguments and non-productive disagreements.
3. CALM BY CONNECTING: Go out of your way to develop new friendships and connections. Look and listen for opportunities to comfort others, share burdens, and learn. Ask older people who have endured difficult trials in their lives to relate their experiences. Look for opportunities to serve others, and to build community around areas of common interest.
4. SAFEGUARD YOUR SENSES: Designate time each day — especially when you wake and before you go to sleep — to meditate, listen to calming music, or read something soothing and inspiring. Be a gatekeeper over your senses. Remember, you and you alone control what enters your domain. Everything that you experience impacts you, for good or for bad. So take care to allow into your life only unifying ideas and feelings instead of divisive ones, love instead of hate, harmony instead of conflict, order instead of chaos.
5. LOOK BEYOND THE MOMENT: Think of what we have been through as one frame of the film. Yes, it’s a disturbing frame, but it’s not the end of the film. It’s not the end of the story. What will the next chapter be? Don’t just be reactive and feel like a victim. Take control of your destiny and say, “How would I like this disruption to turn into a transition for myself, for my children?” Remember, we are teaching our loved ones how we deal with adversity.
While we have no control over the events going on outside of ourselves, we do have full control over what is going on inside ourselves: what our attitudes are; which message we will give our children, families and friends; how nobly and in how dignified a manner we behave during this unprecedented time; which new skills and strengths — perhaps lying dormant within us until now — will emerge.
Rabbi Simon Jacobson has lectured to diverse audiences on six continents and has been interviewed on over 300 radio and TV shows, including CBS, CNN, PBS, MSNBC, FOX, and NPR. He is the dean of The Meaningful Life Center, publisher of the Algemeiner Journal, and author of the best-selling book “Toward a Meaningful Life,” which has sold over 400,000 copies and been translated into 13 languages. Jacobson, with extensive on-air experience, is now available for interviews and analysis. Combining wit and wisdom, his voice is warm, relevant, down-to-earth, and practical, with an uncanny ability to charge and change people’s mindsets.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.