"One of the more famous of these adaptations was made by Mother Teresa. When she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she was subjected to the inevitable press interviews. In one, she was asked, “What can we do to promote world peace?” Her brilliant reply had six words:
“Go home and love your family.”..
While “world peace” is a global issue that no single person can resolve, every person who learns to love and be loved in a family unit is one less insecure and angry soul. One less person inclined to lash out and hurt someone else. One less human being willing to see others suffer without taking action to help them…To love people is to pay attention to them.
Want to change the world? Now you know where to start".
It has been a crazy couple of months in the world; 2016 will definitely go down in history, and what the future holds, who knows. Be careful paying too much attention to the predictions of the scaremongers out there though (quite often our press and media which is more ingrained in us than you might realise). British psychologist Dr Graham Davey specialises in studying the effects of negative news on our lives and has warned that, as well as making us anxious, sad and depressed (especially if we’re already prone or predisposed), negative news directly impacts how we interpret and interact with the world around us. We have a natural negative news bias that causes us to focus primarily on the bad, however dreadful that makes us feel. We perceive the world to be a worse place than it is, real threats cause us to see more where perhaps they don’t exist. That's not to say, ignorance is bliss, although it can be, but being mindful and educated is key, and continuing to take action by doing positive things about what you care about is key - pick up the litter, share a kind word with work colleagues or strangers, volunteer...sitting at home getting angry never helped anyone.
The morning I woke up to the recent social media shit storm that was a re-enactment of Brexit multiplied I noticed a common theme amongst my friends - ‘what do I tell my children?’ I will stress now that I am no politician, but I know people, so here’s what I say to that:
Negativity is four times stronger than positivity, but our thoughts and reactions are ours. Whilst we cannot control the world’s choices, we can take control of our own. Recent world political events have highlighted the fundamental of what is wrong with our world, and we can be grateful for the opportunity to show our children, who incidentally (and definitely) are our future, that the media are not always right, and that being kind, respecting other people’s opinions, and staying true to our own, is OK.
There is much fear in our world today. Conspiracy theories, big brother, cyber attacks, nuclear weapons, and wars we do not understand, and perhaps never will. If you are in the lucky position of educating the next generation to be kind, thoughtful, honest, and respectful, then take that opportunity and do all you can with it.
As adults, we are so busy, stressed, unhappy, and pointing fingers, while we neglect to notice the three pointing back at us. Ignorance may indeed be bliss sometimes, but in two corners of the western world at least, the problems have been highlighted via politics. We can say ‘racism/sexism has won’ or we can be the change we wish to see in the world and take the negative feedback and find a way to move forward doing things differently/more positively.
Trump connected with a wider audience, and the ‘them vs. us’ divide is clear – people can think life is not fair, that they deserve more, and yet are not educated to know that they can create this for themselves. Happiness starts inside. That is what I teach my children.
I work a lot with young people to raise aspirations, and still, sometimes they do not see what is possible for them. You can help. We can take this information in recent politics, and look within ourselves – how did we create this? How can we take responsibility? And how can we change it?
So if you are asking yourself, what do I tell my kids, tell them this – look for the good in people, in situations, find the feedback and always, always be kind. I love this advent calendar to help with ideas.
Which brings me onto Christmas, which is just around the corner (less than a month, so I am pretty sure that's the green light to talk about it). 'It' being the whole season, it is not just a day. It being a perfect opportunity to practice kindness, and in the words of Mother Theresa, at the least, 'go home and love your family.' And by family, I mean your community, or close friends too. We can choose to notice the commercialism and consumer culture that plays a part in Christmas, or focus on all we don't have yet (my family aren't perfect, I'm single and alone type thing), or we can choose to do it differently and find the magic in the best season to be jolly.