Healthy Politics

Clearly we are currently in a time of much political turmoil. From environment to school, health, gun control, global affairs, economy… there isn’t a topic undebatable. And these debates have taken all sorts of forms in all sorts of venues with all sorts of people. And no, this isn’t anything new. Political debate has a long and healthy history. But with the most recent election I’ve noticed and experienced situations that don’t seem to be healthy or productive. I’ve heard many stories of friends and even family members ceasing communication due to who voted for who and for strong viewpoints over touchy topics. I am no stranger to strong opinions and certainly have many of my own. But to close communication due to disagreement is to close the door to potential solutions. And in many cases we now judge others on their political stance and simply close the door on even getting to know people b/c of their values. But what we need now is understanding and camaraderie. We are in an environment that is so easily divided that it’s best to take a step back from time to time and realign with what our commonalties are rather than our differences. Below I am going to break down a few ways to keep clear and open communication going and some of it may surprise you… 

Communication 

First I’d like to look at some basics of communication. As a health coach one of the main aspects of my education was about being a better listener. It is amazing how few people listen during a conversation - if you start to observe yourself you may find that this area could use some improvement, check out tips here. To actively listen is to stop thinking of what your response will be and to close out the chatter in your mind. When you hear what someone says, reiterate it back to them to ensure you’re understanding (this also gives the talker a chance to clarify). Rather than coming back with an immediate rebuttal, ask a question. Asking questions is another way to get further clarification and insight. And I’m not talking about belittling questions like “Well, what do you expect to happen after…” genuine, maybe even personal questions to get a deeper understanding of what the communicator is trying to get across. And when it comes time to speak your piece be authentic, speak from your knowledge and personal experience. Try to avoid hypothetical statements that create divisions i.e. “Well, if we did that, then this horrible thing would certainly happen…” Rather than focusing on where we have differences, we can cultivate trust in one another by finding common ground. Maybe you believe we should totally revamp healthcare and maybe I believe we need to make some adjustments to the current system. As we discuss we find that we both have family members who have dealt with cancer and we want a future where they can be cared for properly and without further stress on the patient. At this point can further discuss the details of how to best care for those who are suffering and what our roles could be. We now find ourselves in a place of truly relating to one another and sharing intimate details of our experiences. Our strength lies in our shared values not in the details of how to get there. 

Neighbors and community 

How well do you know those people who occupy space next to you? Do you stop to chat or ask to borrow something from time to time? Getting to know and work with the people who live in your immediate surroundings is the first step to creating a genuine community. If we take the time to get to know people for who they are we may have more understanding if a political sign shows up in their yard one day, rather than immediately labeling them “the crazies next door”. Whether you love, don’t get along with or don’t know your neighbors, I urge you to invite them over for a meal. Or even consider organizing a regular neighborhood potluck to include more people. Here is an awesome outline of how to get one started. This small effort could end up leading to a better relationship, block, or even town. Historically community provided all that was needed through shared efforts. But today we just happen to live next to people who we may or may not associate with. Let’s change that. Read about a great example of how community members in Florida donated items to their local library for others to check out for free. If we live in a space where people are friendly, honest and look out for one another our homes and inhabitants won’t be reduced down to blue, red or green. 

Buy less, do more 

Have you ever stopped to think how many of your values are attached to your valuables? This may not be a direct connection, but making lots of money is a goal for many people. If we need to have certain laws and policies in order to allow us to make as much money as possible then those laws and policies are supporting the accumulation of valuables. I feel that I should include a disclaimer that I don’t believe making money is wrong and responsible savings and investments are important. But there is a point when responsibility is satisfied, excess is achieved and yet we still want more. The funny thing is that when you take a step away from tv, tablets, and phones you find that you want far less. Convenience or impulse purchases have become an automated response to difficult emotions that arise in us. How often do you feel exhausted and buy a pre-made meal or some sort of treat because it was a bad day? It’s such an easy thing to do, I myself do it often. But what if we didn’t have the means to buy something every time we felt challenged? It is a humbling experience to halt convenience purchases - to know that an item will not bring me peace. (even when my brain is telling me over and over that it will) When we mindlessly purchase items or services we can be blissfully unaware of all the effort, labor and resources that go into that one little bags of chips, bracelet or cup of coffee. This is an amazing time of DIY culture. In the past it’s just the way it was, if you didn’t do it on your own, no one else would. But now it’s a whole “thing” to do it yourself. There are plenty of purchases we make that could be accomplished on our own with a little effort. Learn to fix a broken item at home, make your own chips from stale tortillas or brew some fancy coffee at home and experiment with adding flavors. The more we learn to do, the more we can relate to the people who do that work for a living. It also gives us more opportunities to ask neighbors for advice or help - we can share, trade or gift our excess. By not buying every single thing we want we are reminded of what it is that we take for granted and how seemingly easy things can actually be a challenge. My family is experimenting with no energy days, basically we chose 1 day a month and for 24 hours we use no energy at all. This is a fun experiment and isn’t nearly as tough as I thought it was going to be, until I had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night… suddenly flipping a switch in the pitch dark became an amazing luxury. 

Eat, sleep and fuck well 

Yep, pretty self explanatory. Have you every heard the terms “hangry”, “sleep deprived” or “sexually-frustrated”? Check out the links to read about the effects these conditions have on you. Basically, these are 3 ways to ensure that your conversations will not be very productive. When we are not well fed in these areas we are malnourished and exhausted. To have an open and expansive mind frame we need a good nights rest, one that leaves us feeling optimistic and innovative when we wake. Diet is also a big factor here, foods hold energy that you consume. Eating fresh, vibrant, cared for fruits, veggies and meats opposed to greasy, chemical and sugar laden, nutrient deficient foods will create two very different you(s). And your words and actions will reflect your choices. And lastly, sex. If we could eliminate sexual repression and the avoidance of dealing with sexual trauma maybe we could achieve world peace. We all owe it to ourselves to be honest, open and to explore our needs. You can take a quiz to learn more about yourself and/or your partner here with the Erotic Blueprint Quiz by Jaiya. Gender and sexuality are HUGE topics today - maybe this is a calling to stop debating over others actions and begin to explore our own more deeply. Enjoy your life and live it. I believe in 90/10. 90% discipline and 10% do what you want. Being overly rigid never helped anyone, let loose and break your own rules sometimes. 

In closing I would like to say that this post (like all others) comes from a place of interest, curiosity, observation and experience. This is a culmination of actions that I myself take to help find balance in turmoil. I believe the strength is with all of us - continued communication and learning from one another is how we will evolve. So lets remember 

• Get to know people rather than their political stance 

• Live in a way that reminds you daily of how abundant your life is and be grateful 

• Help each other - family, friends and strangers alike 

• Live vibrantly - explore, question, appreciate, expand 

And remember to simply be interested in who and what is around you. Shut out limitations and open yourself to all the possibilities. If you have not heard of the popular documentary in which a black man befriends members of the KKK - check out Accidental Courtesy and watch an amazing example of how we can meet in the middle. Please share your comments, experiences and stories below.