There is a lot going on in our world right now.
From senate testimony in various hearings to war in foreign lands to giant bombs being dropped (no, not F-bombs, but then again…) to Brexit to special elections to Juneteenth celebrations to the near-explosions of talking heads because of the sheer volume and ambiguity of it all.
We really don’t know from day-to-day what will greet us in the newspapers that we read, podcasts that we listen to, or social media outlets that we frequent. If you’re like me, and many of you must be, or you wouldn’t read this blog, you can’t get enough of the excitement and frenzy of it all, but at the same time it scares the living daylights out of you.
What does the future hold?
No, I mean really. What does the future hold?
How can we know? How can we know, given the impulsivity of our leaders, the shallowness of thought, the depth of misery around us and the unpredictability of the world around us today?
The short, slightly comforting answer is that we can’t know.
How then can we focus on, contemplate in a serious manner, think about intentionally, plan for, reasonably anticipate, embrace, and not fear the future?
I’m trying to take this bull by the horns in a few ways.
One is to break down my response to that lump in my throat that rises periodically, fueled by uncertainly and fear, into three easily considered and actionable steps that I can take every day.
- I intentionally contemplate three things that I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
- I think about three things that I plan to do in the next year.
- I think about three really important things that I want to do before I die.
This may not work for you, but along with other intentional reviews of my activities, my short, intermediate and long-term goals and my actionable plans, it works for me. It keeps me grounded, helps me make achievable plans and keeps me looking at the future as a time that will be healthy, happy and exciting for me and my family.
I also conceptualize the way that I look at the future in this way, utilizing a series of feedback loops:
One of my goals is to decrease fear.
One of the ways that I know really helps me to tame my fear is to learn more about the thing that is making me afraid.
Once I learn more and thus decrease my fear, I am more likely to take action.
When I take action, I experience growth.
Growth further decreases my fear, which helps me to take more action, and so forth.
Growth also leads to happiness, and with continued, ongoing happiness, contentment.
Does the future make you feel afraid?
Try the simple contemplation exercises I listed above.
When you are afraid of something, learn more about it, take action based on what you learn, experience the growth that comes with actionable knowledge, and from that growth begin to experience happiness on the way to true contentment.
We can’t fully predict the future, but we can productively shape our responses to it.
Have a great Thursday.