Oh, America. What am I going to do with you? I love you, baby, but to quote the immortal Carlos Santana, you got to change your evil ways. Of course, I know this happens one person at a time. I’ve got musings (quelle surprise! More musings!) on how to be better, citizen by citizen. Of course, this doesn’t apply to you. Just forward it on passive-aggressively to an in-law or something. Oh, I kid.
Read something. And by someone you just might not agree with. Too many of us have our select Facebook friends, the cherry-picked Tweeters we follow, and our specific blogs and news sites we visit each day. But I’m here to tell you: there’s something else. There ARE intelligent debaters on each side of an issue. I may bang my head on the kitchen table after doing it, but I respect someone who has a nimble mind, even if we disagree. I know the voice of moderation is hard to hear over the partisan vitriol and nastiness that seems to be our new way of communication in America. Seems sometimes somebody wants another civil war. But it does your brain good exercise to think in different patterns. And by the way, if you only have one wing, right or left, you’re going to end up flying in a circle. It’s just physics, folks.
Move. And somewhere besides between the TV and the refrigerator. It’s not necessary to overhaul your whole lifestyle. I’m not asking you to struggle into spandex. That would be wrong and cruel (and a workout of its own; fodder for another blog). But if the dog wouldn’t like a little trot outside, I bet the kids would. Or maybe you’re like me, and it’s just an excellent excuse for alone time. Twenty minutes. Three times a week. No biggie. It’s a powerful anti-depressant. And judging from the scowls on some of the pusses I’ve seen out in public lately, you could use one.
Eat something. Something that isn’t made by Yum Brands, Inc., for crying out loud. I think some of you are kept alive merely by preservatives. Related: water doesn’t need to be flavored to be palatable. Start small. Make a promise to yourself SOMETHING you eat today won’t come in a wrapper.
Say something. Directly. Not all sideways. Don’t sulk and puff and sigh to make me ask what’s wrong with you. Speak. If you have beef, I will not know it unless you tell it. TO ME, not our mutual friend. Or my favorite: the Sideways Status Update. You’ve seen it. You’ve got that Facebook friend or family member who loves to post something cryptic to get attention. If your status says something like, “…is so disappointed to think a friend could treat me this way,” you’re sharing that in hopes to get attention. JUST TALK TO THE PERSON. Chances are they, like you, are so wrapped up in their own nonsense they have no idea you’ve got your knickers in a knot.
Here’s some prompts about how to be assertive: I want. I need. I feel happy/sad/angry when you do a certain thing. I would prefer another thing. Dang, that sounds elementary, but I’m telling you, it seems no one can just say what’s on their mind without losing it. And there are choices between doormat and sledgehammer, people. There’s a way to be heard without being Ann Coulter. Ooh, I just had an involuntary shudder.
Stop saying things. Pay close attention to what you’re going to say before you say it today. Give whatever you are about to utter this litmus test: Is it a complaint or criticism? THEN JUST DON’T. You’ll be shocked if you pay attention how much we do this. Is what you’re about to say kind? Loving? Ethical? If the answer is no, then for the love of all that is holy, SHUT YOUR PIE HOLE.
Turn your eyeballs out. Think about someone else for a change. Check your ego size. And trust me, this is spoken by the Ego That Ate Manhattan. If you can’t put someone else first, realize that when you look to help others you get to feel smug. And they’ll do stuff for you. Whatever gets you through the night, pal.
Act as if. If you want to be better, you’ve got to act as if you are better. Because if you wait until you FEEL like being a better person, you’re going to keep waiting. Feelings follow action, not the other way around.
Pray or meditate. Spirituality is linked with happiness and well-being. But I’m sure there are some atheists out there who are just hilarious. Either way, the mindfulness that is required for meditation or prayer will at least calm your body down, center and ground you, and make you easier for us to deal with.
So that’s how to be better at everything in what? A thousand words or less? You’re welcome. And don’t think for a minute I didn’t write this post as a reminder for the most thick-headed egomaniac I know. Which would be me. Let’s own it, shall we? America can use some bettering.