Feel Hopeless? Keep Your Sanity By Doing One Real Thing Daily
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” ~ Barack Obama
If you want to keep your sanity, make sure you do one real thing every day. That’s what the character Jethro Gibbs of NCIS and all great leaders teach us. When Gibbs needs to decompress and become grounded, he turns to woodworking in his basement. Think about it…Winston Churchill had his painting, J.F.K. went sailing with his family, Condoleezza Rice loves golfing, Maya Angelou danced, and Angela Merkel loves to hike. Do you see a pattern? Effective leaders make time to do something real, some sort of physical activity that makes them feel their bodies and minds connected within themselves and with the earth, to be grounded.
Keeping our sanity and remaining grounded is especially challenging in this digital age. It can feel like we’re living in two different worlds – the Internet one and the real one. It takes a bit to switch our mental gears between the two. For instance, have you ever been reading a physical book absentmindedly and touched the page, thinking it would open up a link? I have!
In the digital world, our connection to humanity is threatened. There’s a growing impatience and lack of common courtesy. Just push a button and unfriend someone spills over into in-person relationships — blunt, rude comments come easily, as skills for mending fences decrease. It’s a fight not to be superficial and distracted. If we’re not careful, our lives could become filled with activities that leave us drained and hopeless. It’s time to ask yourself, what fills you up?
How do you keep your sanity, in a way that feels real to you?
For some people, the digital world is their reality. They say this, as they’re slumped over the keyboard, eyes red and blurry, shoulders aching and tense, living on caffeine. If only they would listen to their bodies! The signs are there telling them that there’s more to living fully.
On the other hand, hard physical activities and hands-on hobbies give us immediate rewards and humbling feedback. You get to see the results of your efforts in real-time. For example, you might think you’re fit, until pedaling a bicycle makes your legs scream. Yet by biking every day, you see tangible results as your stamina builds, your waistline shrinks, your eyes sparkle and your attitude is uplifted. As you battle the elements and push past your own reluctance, you gain a sense of victory. Your body is telling you that it and you as a whole person are happy and fulfilled.
Real, grounding activities are things you do that give you time to deeply think about your life and how you’re being in the world. They quiet and calm you, forcing you to be patient and focused. But they also push you to grow, whether that be physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. They challenge you in some way. They give you proof that you matter and you’re contributing to something bigger than yourself. They reassure you that things can change; there’s every reason to be hopeful.
It could be something as simple as baking bread or taking the dog for a walk. It might be running or rockhounding. It could even be swinging in a hammock as you mindfully listen to all the sounds and feel the breeze tickle the hair on your arms.
The key is to be mindfully aware of how the activity is shaping your body and mind, but also how it’s shaping your relationships with others.
If you’re really into doing a “Life Reset” that intensifies your ability to be grounded in reality, try mastering one skill, hobby, exercise, activity. This will narrow your focus, getting rid of the distractions you don’t need. What an eye-opener! What you once thought was important, may now become a nuisance. Case in point: when I was training for the Crossfit Open, it was easy to say no to alcohol, sugar, and vegging in front of the TV. They were no longer attractive; they were obstacles to my success. And my view of success wasn’t winning first place, but knowing that I could do this! Dwayne Johnson explains this so well,
“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.”
As you simplify your life, you get a chance to step back and reassess what makes you feel real, grounded and full of hope. It’s refreshing and a pleasure to pause in this hyperactive digital world we’ve created. The more you do this, the more grounded and connected you become to other people, the Earth and to your higher purpose.
I’ve found that a practice of embodiment has been key to my remaining grounded and hopeful. If you’d like to explore the art of embodiment further, download my free report, 10 Steps to an Embodied Practice. If you’re ready to accelerate your progress, check out my Embody Coach School, which I’ve designed to give you the skills you need to keep your sanity and thrive in this digital age. Why not see if it’s what you’ve been looking for.