Today, more so than ever, we are beset on all sides by messages, advertisements, exhortations, and social cues to think, act, and react in particular ways. Boredom has become our enemy, and we have become receptive to any source of stimulation, especially outrage and despair as proffered on the news. When we finally pull ourselves away to digest the abject misery of life, review our personal obligations, fetters, and plans, and wonder why we’re even bothering, our mental states can become very unbalanced over time.
Existence is a constant balancing act, and I try each day to build up the strength to keep myself from falling off the beam. To accomplish this, I focus on one task at a time, no matter how small, just so long as I can complete the task on my own. It’s a meditation of sorts because I think about how I’m affecting reality around me, how I’m using my mind to get my body to get work done, and then wondering what else I’d be capable of doing. Whether it’s organizing around the house, exercising, cooking, or typing this article, I set aside time each day to work in solitude and remind myself of how much control I have.
The challenge I face in achieving balance is dealing with social media, news events, and other huge cataclysms over which I have zero control. Even observing the mass hysterias of my friends can be taxing. And let’s be honest here: there is, and never will be any shortage of tragedy, panic, and suffering in the world. If we are to confront any of these woes, we must have steady footing and balance within ourselves before anything else. I cannot deny that seeing a heartbreaking news report affects me, or that interacting with other people has an influence on how I think. We are, after all, the average of the people with whom we spend the most time. Regardless of how positively or negatively affected, we are by outside stimuli, time alone is essential.
Before you allow anything else to inform or direct your thoughts, consult yourself first. Make sure you understand your own feelings, needs, urges, and current emotional state before diving into the unknowns of the world. Do not be swept away by elation and optimism, and do not allow yourself to sink into despair. Unless physical circumstances dictate otherwise, you always have some degree of control. Even this article is to be taken with careful consideration; if you don’t find this to be helpful, or if you disagree, that’s okay – you are independent and must find balance in your own way. I’m not here to tell you what to do. The best tyrant you can have is yourself.
In conclusion, here’s my recommendation: stop watching the news, put down the memes, and log out of [insert social media website here], and see how long you last without going back to it. Make it a game or a challenge. During that time, try and let yourself be bored, or get around to completing a few mundane tasks, thereby building up a tolerance and toughening yourself up against life’s banality. You might even find better, more fulfilling things to do than consume content. Through this method of subtraction, I believe some level of balance can be gained.