In 1895, Rudyard Kipling wrote the timeless poem, “If.” The first stanza implores us to “keep our heads” when everyone around us is losing theirs.
“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs…”
Did Kipling have a time machine? Did he somehow travel to 2020 and quickly escape back to the nineteenth century to write this warning for future generations?
If there is any word which describes 2020, “insanity” would be at the top of many lists. This past week has been no exception. It’s been exhausting, frustrating, and painful at many levels.
Someone has said, “elections have consequences.” All too often the personal consequences are dire. I stayed up way too late Tuesday night (I’m embarrassed to say it was actually Wednesday morning). I thought if I stayed awake I could somehow influence things. So Wednesday I was stressed. My jaw seemed clenched all day. I was so lost in my own thoughts and in such a fog that I found myself ignoring conversations and meaningful interaction with my own family. I found myself glued to the news cycle and talk radio. I kept refreshing my social media for the latest developments. The more I listened and watched the more pain I experienced. I know better. You know better. THIS IS NOT HEALTHY! I was getting sucked into the insanity.
Finally I had to make a decision. It was like facing my addiction all over again. Is this how I want to live? Is this what I want to consume my precious time and relationships? I took action and changed my mind. It’s been a better week since then.
This is what has worked for me, maybe these will help you.
- Turn it off. I broke the chain of the 24 hour news cycle. I turned off the TV, the radio, and I set a schedule for when I interacted with social media.
- Pick it up. I picked up a book that always inspires and heals me and I read.
- Connect. I spent time with a mentor. I reconnected with my friends. And we didn’t talk politics! We encouraged and cared for one another.
- Go outside. This week in the northeast has been beautiful. High temperatures and sunshine. Go walk, play, get some vitamin D.
- Refocus. What happens next nationally is really out of my hands. I like control but I can’t control this. But what I can control is how I respond. I chose to respond by getting refocused on my “Why.” I choose to double down on my purpose and mission for life. When I focus my mental energy and my actions on what I want to achieve, the noise of insanity vanishes.
Your life is yours to control. You make the most important decisions of your life. You are the constant. You can either be pulled into other people’s insanity, or you can chart your own course.
Kipling ends his poem with this stanza:
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
The measure of manhood may well be keeping your head when everyone around you is losing theirs. Live well.