As I’ve been reflecting on the tragic massacre in Las Vegas, Nevada & the current state of our society, I have felt sad, hurt, angry, & sometimes scared. After hearing about the tragedy, I immediately wanted to fast forward 3 months to January & hop on a plane to Australia.
Maintaining hope & faith in this crazy world of gun massacres & natural disasters & political drama has become increasingly difficult.
Through travel, I’ve formed a view of the world as a typically safe, welcoming, & accepting place. It’s certainly not a perfect world, but travel has allowed me to focus on the beauty, distance myself from negativity, receive the kindness of strangers, & understand that there is actually so much hope, happiness, & light surrounding & protecting us always. Sometimes that light gets dimmed by fear, media, politics, & tragic events.
There are crazy people in all corners of the world. There is heartache & death, destruction, disaster, illness, hate, racism & intolerance. These are not new problems. This is part of the human condition. We can not let these things stop us from experiencing all of the beauty the world has to offer.
Media distorts our worldview
I truly believe that what we focus our attention on is what we will reap. Focusing on fear will lead to more fear. Intentionally seeking out beauty & positivity & opening ourselves to the kindness in humanity will reap more of those good vibes.
If you’re constantly looking at the world through the lens of social media & television, you’re not seeing the world for what it is. Creating a happy, positive, kind, accepting world requires getting out into the world & doing your own research. You create your beliefs based on your surroundings & what you’re choosing to give attention to.
Sometimes it’s hard to feel good about what’s happening in the world if you’re only seeing it from the perspective of the media. This can become a vicious cycle.
On Monday morning after hearing about the situation in Las Vegas, I wanted to curl up & stay inside. After talking to people, I realized that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. The problem was, the more I stayed inside & focused my attention on what was happening on my newsfeed, the more depressed & I afraid I felt about the situation. I no longer wanted to confront the world.
The media paints a picture of the world as a dangerous, scary place full of hatred, violence, & disaster.
Maybe you don’t even know you’re afraid. Think about how many times you have thought or said, “I could never do that” or “that place looks beautiful but I can’t go there because it isn’t safe.” How many times have you convinced yourself that you shouldn’t or can’t do something based on something you heard in the news?
When I get caught in a cycle of fear that holds me back, my life coach, Cheryl, reminds me of an acronym, F.E.A.R– that is, False Evidence Appearing Real. That is exactly what fear is.
Travel has forced me into positions of vulnerability.
Several months ago, I wrote about a crazy Patagonia hike that I did with my friend Core. What I didn’t mention in that story was what happened after we finished the hike.
Core & I arrived at the bus stop to catch the bus back to town, about 30 minutes away. We were starving, bruised, sunburnt, & exhausted. We both just wanted a warm shower, a good meal, & a real bed. At the bus stop, we were told that a bus had just come & that it could be a few hours until the next one. We couldn’t get any exact information about the bus schedule but as we talked to people, we realized we might be stranded there for a while.
I threw my bag down on the curb & plopped onto the bench. We were munching on spoonfuls of peanut butter & commiserating about our situation, wondering what we were going to do. After about 30 minutes of sitting on the curb, a family of 3– mom, dad, & eight-year-old son– pulled up in their car & asked us if we wanted a ride to town. The woman said that we looked so exhausted. We happily accepted their offer!
In the United States, hitchhiking is considered unsafe & most people would not consider it. In Patagonia, hitchhiking is accepted as normal & locals are friendly enough to offer rides without even being asked.
This is just one example of strangers offering kindness “just because.” I have many stories of being offered food, shelter, free rides, acceptance, & friendship.
Reflecting on this story, I’m reminded that when I put myself in vulnerable positions, the world finds a way to open up to me & the guidance & help I need always comes to me– usually in the form of random acts of kindness.
How I do it
I recently read a book called “The 4 Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss. If you have never heard of this book, it’s a really good read about how to increase productivity in the workplace, remove distractions, & create more time for activities that bring happiness, joy, & pleasure.
One of Ferriss’s recommendations in the book is to conduct a 5 day media fast. He suggests cutting out all news sources, social media, websites not absolutely necessary for work, podcasts, & televisions for 5 full days. His logic is that without these distractions, the days will be a lot more productive.
As extreme as it may sound, I wholeheartedly agree with this recommendation. Shutting off all media sources, even for one day, & opting instead to go outside & explore the world you live in can be therapeutic & revealing. It might reveal that the world is, in fact, not such a scary place after all.
While you’re outside enjoying your break from the media, you might stop to ask yourself how often you’ve been in real, life threatening danger today. How often in your life have you faced danger? The answer might be anywhere from a few times to a lot of times. But if you’re alive & breathing right now & have survived whatever threats & challenges have come your way, pause & give thanks. This is the time to take note of all the good in the world around you. Compare this present moment to what the media tells you to believe is true about the world today.
If you can, I suggest going as far into nature as you can to get away from the noise, just for a day. If this is not possible, perhaps find a nearby park to stroll through instead. Maybe nature isn’t your thing. Coffee shops, libraries, yoga & workout classes, bars, restaurants, theme parks, spas, & shopping malls are all good places to escape for awhile. The point is to shut off the TV, silence the cell phone, & go out into the world with the intention of finding all of the kindness & beauty around you.
In the story about hitchhiking, Core & I put ourselves into a position of vulnerability. We accepted a ride from strangers! We traveled HARD for several days, and there was no hiding how we felt at the time. Sitting on the side of the road, we were open to accepting kindness from this random family. I learned that there are good people everywhere & because of this experience, I truly believe that to be true. I hope this blog post inspires you to overcome fears & limitations & to begin to view the world as a kind, beautiful, & accepting place.
Go try the 5 day media fast & let me know in the comments if your experience was glamorous or not!