Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Staying happy and well in a world of turbulence

A contributor at the Media Lens message board asks: "How does one avoid becoming politically 'burnt out' and totally disillusioned?"

And among the kind offers of advice comes this simple and brilliant piece of illumination from David Edwards, one of the ML Editors:
"Don't focus too much on the results: the key is to do something that you really enjoy that also helps others. If you're doing something that feels like drudgery, you're doing the wrong thing - you're not making a better world, you're making a world full of drudgery. It may sound paradoxical, but the concern should be with the quality and enjoyment of the work you're doing, not on what it's achieving. Concern about results is of the ego; authentically progressive work comes from a liberated, excited feeling in your chest.

Don't wear anger and despair as badges of commitment - they're not, they're badges of ego. The ego wants to be 'special' - specially rich, specially famous, specially powerful. But also, alas, specially virtuous, specially dedicated and committed to saving the world. People are very impressed by the claim that someone is "nauseated" by injustice - 'Wow! He's
really committed!' Often it's the ego advertising for admirers.

Don't believe the ego's tall tales about you coming here to save the world - we are all of us tiny specks and the world will be packed full of suffering 100, 200, 1,000 years after we're gone. But you can still work for the benefit of others because it's far more fulfiling than self-interested, ego-based work. And it's good to help even one sentient being to be free from suffering - it matters to them! And who knows? there
could be a major change for the better (but that shouldn't be a major focus).

Don't think that politics is enough. Do physical exercise every couple of days and find ways to escape from compulsive thinking (through music, meditation, yoga, whatever...) every day. Keep the emotional side of yourself alive - joke, be childish and non-serious; don't become a hard-boiled political rock."
I might well be tempted to say that I wish I'd written those fine words, but that would be to court and indulge my own ego. Instead, I'm just very pleased to have had them imparted to me and others as a confirmation and helpful reminder of how to maintain a balanced, harmonious and life-affirming disposition while engaged in such activity.



Anonymous said...

I 2nd that John ! Keep up your good work too, Denis Goodchild

Anonymous said...

Hear hear. The best of ML on show there. Not that best or show are really the, um... well... I'll get me cushion.