Silver Linings Playbook

Lately I’ve spent a great deal of time talking friends and relatives down from the ledge of anxiety and despair. So many are having extreme difficulty with the overwhelming number of calls to action and requests for donation from worthwhile organizations representing people and causes threatened by the new administration. We are caring, competent seniors who remember fighting earlier battles with “the establishment”. We want, once again, to step up and do something meaningful for the greater good. But we find ourselves spinning in indecision on how to discern meaningful action from tilting at windmills, how to shake off an obsessive internal and external negative chatter that keeps undermining the natural balance of our bodies and personal lives. How can we maintain our resolve to leave a legacy of environmental health, personal rights, and equal opportunity against a tide of anti-intellectual, regressive culture change that seems to have been swept in by the election of 2016?

In order to ward off yet one more call from the ledge-hangers, I’m hereby posting my “Silver Linings Playbook” – to borrow a phrase. Here are thoughts and behaviors I’m adopting to maintain my own sanity and some semblance of balance as the waves of attack keep smacking against everything I’ve ever known and loved about America and the modern era.

Take what you find useful. Set all others aside. And let’s go on together.

“Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think and twice as beautiful as you’ve ever imagined.” – Dr. Seuss

Repeat These Original and Adopted Personal Affirmations on a Regular Basis

  • The real silver lining: Apparently living through the Reagan and Bush eras was not enough to bring us to a collective consciousness – now we’ve heard the “Trump-et Blow”; he’s created a unity across barriers of geography, age, race, gender, and even political persuasion
  • “There will be a happy ending; if it’s not happy yet, it’s not the end.”
  • “What’s meant to be, will be.”
  • Hold fast to Courage, Optimism, Patience and Grace – the keys to successfully surviving my liver transplant and recuperation.
  • More of us voted for “stronger together” than “America First”; we are the new “moral majority”.
  • Much of my fear is “False Expectation Appearing Real” – don’t cry over spilled milk and don’t expend healthy energy on disasters that are not manifest. Deal with now.
  • Others have lived and are living through far worse than my current situation: Native Tribes of North America; humans of every color, old and young, forced into slavery and prostitution; vulnerable elders abused by trusted caretakers; victims of genocide and survivors of genocide; entire races and religious sects fearing everyday for the safety of their sons and brothers, mothers and sisters, even during peaceful times; families of first responders, ironically, carrying the same weight.
  • What are my dilemmas compared with those faced by Nelson Mandela, Dr. King, Victor Frankl, Cesar Chavez, Aung San Suu Kyi, Chief Joseph, Mahatma Ghandi?
  • What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Batten the Hatches

  • Severely limit exposure to the flood of negativity – stay away from divisive rants on Facebook.
  • Broaden the diversity of incoming news sources, but limit the amount of time spent on redundant analyses.
  • Spend more time with self, family, supportive community. Listen with a peaceful heart and an open mind to people who are expressing points of view, but don’t engage in debate. It’s fodder, not necessarily fit to feed on.

Bolster Innate Resilience

  • Increase exposure to nature, exercise, meditation, trusted relationships, non-political humor, escapism media.
  • Set limits on volunteer activity and financial donations and be strategic in allocation.
  • “All I can do is all I can do.”
  • Focus narrowly and deeply on issues of personal importance – for me these are aging in community, intergenerational cooperation, and a healthy environment.

When things go wrong, don’t go with them. – Elvis Presley