Most days, the world can feel like a flaming bag of dogshit on the front steps of the universe. To say the suffering in the world is overwhelming is an understatement. It’s fucking paralyzing. 

A glancing thought at global events can be enough to snatch away any joy or happiness and plunge you into an abyss of worry and angst. But you know what? Your angst and worry don’t do shit. You can exercise compassion, acknowledge the world’s suffering — even hold it in your heart — and still live a happy life.

Worrying doesn’t mean you are better or worse than the next person. It just means you’re fucking human. Being happy doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to the world’s suffering.

Make your corner of the world better

One day in 2021, I was driving down the road, minding my own business, on my way to the dog park. And then it hit me. I pulled over and promptly started panicking.

“Fuck,” I said to myself. “I don’t really know what is happening in Ukraine.”

People were dying, and I was heading to the dog park. The guilt and panic was overwhelming. 

Your ability to make a difference is both limited and limitless, as fucking crazy as that sounds. 

In the same way, I cannot stop the war in Ukraine; you cannot stop all of the horrible, fucked up shit from happening to good, innocent people every single day. But your accumulated actions, compounded with the actions of others, can. 

Instead of contemplating all of that horrible, fucked up shit happening around the world and diving headfirst into an existential crisis, focus your attention on one, or a few, areas where you can make an impact in a way that makes sense for your life.

How the fuck do you choose what to focus on, you ask? Start with what is in front of you in your community. Whatever global events keep you up at night, chances are, it’s local to you somehow. Donate or volunteer in a capacity that doesn’t deplete you with compassion fatigue. 

What the fuck is compassion fatigue?

Compassion fatigue is some real shit. According to a 2020 study, it occurs from a combination of prolonged secondary traumatic stress and burnout. The result is total fucking exhaustion: physically, emotionally, and cognitively — and a marked decline in the ability to feel empathy.

Excessive worrying and anxiety can wreak havoc on your ability to make decisions and take action. You can’t pour from an empty cup, or as we like to say, you’re no fucking good to anyone if you’re not fucking good to yourself. 

Fuck social media  

We get it. There’s nothing like mindless scrolling to bring on the sweet relief of dissociation. But nothing sows the seeds of cosmic dread like thumbing through post after post about the horrors of the world, or rather post after post of people virtue signaling about the horrors of the world.

The research is in (as if we needed), and social media is fucking bad for you. 

Same as worrying doesn’t do shit; scrolling doesn’t do shit either. Set your screen timers, delete the apps, and unfollow accounts that gratuitously “spread awareness.” 

Up-to-date or informed?

As citizens of the planet, we shouldn’t totally have our heads in the proverbial sand. But there is such a thing as being over-informed, especially when news and information are as omnipresent as it is today. For fucks sake, you can’t even fill your car with gas without being bombarded by a newscast from a screen installed on the pump. 

In 2017, psychologist Steven Stosny coined the term “headline stress disorder,” an unofficial diagnosis for chronic symptoms of anxiety and emotional distress resulting from constant news consumption. And he found that constant media consumption erodes one’s resilience and ability to cope. 

Pay attention to your impulse to pick up your phone and thumb through the headlines — is your desire to be ultra-informed rooted in an urge to self-harm emotionally? Time your news intake and fucking curate it. 

We argue that news doesn’t necessarily keep you informed— it’s mostly designed to keep you up to date. If you want to be truly informed, books are where it’s at, baby. 

Read more books on topics you care about to balance out your news consumption. 

You’ll gain a nuanced perspective and an understanding beyond what the news provides. A book also allows you to categorize — you set aside time, space and attention to read a book. Your phone is constantly available, sending invisible signals from your pocket that the world needs your attention and needs you to look at it. But it doesn’t. Worry isn’t a fucking virtue. Taking care of yourself and allowing yourself to be happy is not making the world a worse place, but a better one.

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