We all have our natural ups and downs. The great author Spencer Johnson, M.D. called them peaks and valleys. Some of us are living more or less in a valley and are not able to successfully get out of a rut. This is not healthy.
Step 1: Recognize you are in a valley.
Overly focusing on yourself is not a good way to live. Younger generations seem to be very much focused on themselves. In “The Road to Courage” by David Brooks, he describes how the generation dealing with the aftermath of World War II were, for the most part, humbled. Living through the horror of The Holocaust and the apocalypse of death and destruction of innocent people across the world. It is something we should all remain conscious of today, as humanity remains at war and at risk of the spread of war, including the ultimate use of nuclear weapons that threaten the lives of all of us, our friends, family and children.
The first “Americans” who colonized and settled the ever expanding outskirts of the wilderness worked together with their neighbors. They were focused on helping each other. I help you. You help me. Together we help others, and all together we help each other. This is lacking today, to say the least.
The more self centered you are, the more at risk you are of losing the true joy of life. We need self awareness in the sense of recognizing that the more we serve others, the more happiness we derive. We need less selfishness. If you are depressed, when was the last time you did something to genuinely help someone else on your own initiative?
Step 2: Take the first step to move out of the valley.
So you are in a valley? You now recognize it. As they say, accurate diagnosis is half the battle in medicine. Now you need to take some action. Don’t try to change your whole world overnight. Take one action.
Here are some ideas for start up actions to move out of a valley. Take a walk, visit a library, talk to someone you trust, buy a self help book that catches your attention at Barnes & Noble, make a list of things on your mind, make a telephone call to someone you’ve been meaning to call, write in a diary or blog, tell your spouse, parent, child, sibling or friend how much you love or appreciate them. Then, do an act of love for them. Love is a verb.
Step 3: Create a framework for your ongoing trip through life.
In life we need to stay in motion to get along. Finding your natural rhythm and an approach that works for you takes time, awareness, and efforts. To develop a framework for navigating life successfully, balance taking time to reflect on what is happening. Whether or not you believe in God or some other word or concept for the powers behind the creation of life, give serious thought and reflection to these things and your place in this world.
How can you contribute to improving the lives of others? There is no one in this world with your particular experiences, background, skills, talents, thoughts, and dreams except you. Appreciate this. No one can take your place in acting in the particular time and space that you occupy.
There are people around you who only you can touch, only you can look in the eye, only you can love. Do it now. These little actions create ripple effects. You will begin to feel better by taking time to reflect on the magnitude of life and the people out there who could use your talents and service. Do one action to get started to help someone else. Do it now to get started and repeat. This is your treatment plan: be aware, reflect, act.
Go forth and get started.
Step 4: Ongoing Maintenance
If you are already on this or some similar type of path toward enlightenment, nevertheless we can all increase our awareness, improve our reflection ability, and take more and better actions.
Reflect on your framework, your systems, and the people in your life for how you can better serve others and in doing so increase your inner joy and satisfaction with your life.
Realizing there are people starving, suffering and dying all across the world should give you pause to reflect, think, and act in a way toward filling out your role in improving our world by working together.