Did you know that the time-honored song “Amazing Grace” was written by a man whose career involved shipping slaves from Africa? That’s the last person I’d pick as the writer of such a moving hymn. Just goes to show that the power of grace can be found in unanticipated places.
I’m thinking about grace these days as a way to help me deal with political and social turmoil. As you know, I can easily absorb this negative stuff and become overwhelmed. I need to find a way to not shut down but also to protect my happiness from being robbed by circumstances beyond my control.
Before we talk about grace, let’s look at other ways seniors and all citizens have combated the depression, anxiety, and fear created by the stresses of life.
Suggestions for Dealing
Volunteering, journaling, therapy, meditation, yoga, marching, and biofeedback are ways to relieve stress within today’s divisive culture. And when I talk about divisiveness, I mean both within our immediate communities as well as the larger forums of our nation. Just because we’re not able to march in D.C. doesn’t mean a locally-organized event won’t go a long way toward providing an outlet for our frustrations and anger.
Every person has their own way of working through upsets, and I appreciate hearing what works for them in challenging times. Some of the more creative ways of continuing through life with some semblance of joy include autogenics (working through a series of self-statements about heaviness and warmth in different parts of the body, a process that induces a positive effect on the autonomic nervous system), music therapy, aromatherapy, coloring, napping, and working with animals in shelters. In general, doing for others shifts our mind set away from anxieties and puts the focus on the joy and satisfaction of helping others.
I need ways to deal with upset every day – every hour even! If I fire up my computer in the morning or happen to land on the news as I scroll through the TV selections, I can get amped up pretty quickly. Children in harm’s way and animals that a year later are still searching for homes that were destroyed in any number of natural disasters, to say nothing of the farce we call politics, raise both my ire and blood pressure. Random killings by our mentally deranged population, and oppression of anyone or anything anywhere anytime, are daily events that scare and sadden the crap out of me.
Working through the day-to-day upset of what feels like an out-of-control world is where the power of grace comes for me.
Grace, My Best Solution
Grace is smiling the minute I see you, letting anyone anytime cut in front of me in traffic or in any line. It’s holding the door for strangers, keeping my mouth shut when I have a better idea or answer (especially on social media!). It’s listening instead of talking or offering a comforting hug rather than a suggestion about what I think you should do. Grace is patient and nonjudgmental. Grace is celebrating our differences rather than using those differences to drive a wedge between us.
Grace for me shows up in what I do for others: Extra homemade cheesecake? Share it with friends. Pet a few animals at the Humane Society? It’s well known that the heart rate slows, and we relax when we spend time with cats and dogs (or birds, sloths, or chickies). Done with that dress, purse, tableware, or decoration? Offer it to a friend or donate it to a good cause.
Grace also shows up in forgiveness, saying “I’m sorry” and “thank you,” active listening, taking an interest in something or someone else, and asking questions. These are all excellent ways to stay in grace when I’m angry, frustrated, and confused, or when change shifts the ground under me.
Lately I’ve been feeling anger at myself for naively thinking we were further along in our society with regard to minorities, women, and children. But the power of grace can help me deal with these feelings. I can practice grace every day, in every situation with people I know and with strangers as well. I can be the thing that makes not only my life but the life of another a little better in any given moment.
I’m not talking about winning a Nobel Peace Prize but I am talking about a solid solution to feeling awful due to the cabillion negative aspects of the world around me.
It’s free, easy to do, requires no training, and feels SO good. And, as we all know, what we give out is what we get back.
It’s my plan to give out grace knowing that I will receive grace back ten-fold … if I allow it to be so.