As I explore the research on positive psychology and prepare to give a talk about happiness, I am struck by the emotional complexity of our 21st century lives. Much of the research about happiness and talk about positive psychology comes out of our individual and collective unhappiness, anxiety, and depression. How do we do our best to increase our vibrational levels by keeping gratitude journals and counting blessings AND honor our moment to moment authentic feeling responses to our inner or outer worlds?
As I write, the District of Columbia police are investigating yet another mass shooting, this one at the heavily secured Washington Navy Yard. As we read or watch this story unfold, numerous emotions wash over us. Our personal story determines some of our feeling response as those who lost loved ones in previous shootings will experience the event differently than those whose lives have yet to be personally touched by this insidious form of American violence. Are we awake enough to feel the pain of the murderer? Are we awake enough to feel the pain of those directly affected in any way by this tragedy? How can we not feel angry, depressed, or hopeless at such recurrent tragedy? Can we let those authentic, expected emotions to such a tragedy roil through us for a while? I hope so. Empathic emotions are part of our humanity.
And yet I believe it is the responsibility of all of us to do our best to work with our initial emotional responses to the situation AND take actions to keep our own physical and emotional energy bodies humming along smoothly. In this world we are all connected and the pain of our sister and brother is also our pain. Likewise, the peace, joy or contentment that we generate becomes peace, joy, and contentment for our sister and brother.
How do we let ourselves feel all there is to feel in this time of individual and collective change AND be responsible for ourselves and others? Lately I am taking long, tearful walks, allowing emotions to wash right out of my system as I walk through my favorite park. I come home from my walk, shower, and sit with my intentions for how I want to live my life this year. My intentions are general and I see myself five years from now, more actualized in these intentions, and I feel my energies rise. Taking part in regular energy work such as Yoga, QiGong, massage, Reiki can also keep our vibration high and energy humming. Likewise practices such as the energy medicine of Donna Eden can assist us. Connecting with other people is another activity, particularly if the interactions are positive and caring.
I hope you will both allow yourself to feel all there is to feel and take part in meditation and energy work.