Someone I follow on twitter, posted a quote from the Dalai Lama. The quote was “Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” The person on twitter said, “This quote makes me furious.” Interesting.
I should say that the person I follow on twitter, is involved in politics and I think that informs his attitude. I’ve seen another quote around political circles, that says, “If you’re not angry, you aren’t paying attention.” The assumption is that the only sane response to some conditions is anger. I get why people feel that way, but I must respectfully disagree.
For me, this is about emotional perspective. Abraham Hicks talks about viewing our emotions on an emotional scale. It’s a scale measuring emotions from those that feel terrible to those that feel wonderful. At the lower end of this scale are emotions like despair, depression, feelings of worthlessness. At the top of the scale are emotions like joy, love, ecstasy. Abraham encourages us to work our way up the emotional scale to the happier emotions, to achieve what we want with our lives.
Abraham also talks about anger as being a huge emotional improvement over powerlessness. I think that’s why so many people rely on anger to fuel their political activism. It’s an affirmation that we are not in fact, powerless, even though we may feel that way in the face of larger political realities that distress us.
The problem I have with anger is that I don’t want to get stuck there. I want to feel better than that. I find it’s not a very effective state of mind when compared to joy. Joy is where I find clarity and creative solutions.
Anger has allowed me to take action to change circumstances in my life that I don’t like, but acting from anger is messy and ultimately unsatisfying. Anger is a good indicator for me of the need for change, but not a good place for me to launch action. If I lead myself up that emotional scale further, I will more easily generate results that I like.
I don’t hear much about working for societal change from a place of joy or love, but I do have role models for that. One role model for this joy-based activism is Thich Naht Hahn. He is a Vietnamese Monk who came of age during the Vietnam War. His advocacy of reconciliation got him ostracized by both sides in the war, but he has inspired millions with his loving view of the world. Martin Luther King, Jr. also inspired us with love. More recently, Barack Obama’s vision of hope, catapulted him to national prominence and drove his historic presidency.
Law of Attraction teachers point to a danger of staying too long in unpleasant states of mind like anger. Anger keeps our focus more on what we don’t want than on what we do want. The theory of law of attraction is that our focus brings us more of what we’re focusing on. If we focus on what we’re angry about, we bring more of it into our lives. That’s not usually the effect we’re hoping for.
Of course, I have to start wherever I am. If I’m angry, it’s not going to change the anger to pretend it’s not there. I can only change the effects of anger if I genuinely change the how I’m feeling. That’s what this law of attraction work is for me. It’s learning to change how I feel so I feel better and better.
Anger is empowering, but joy, love and hope can be empowering too. I can create what I want from a hopeful place. In fact, I believe it’s the easiest way to do it.
I was upset by the results of the recent presidential election. It took some time for me to gain emotional equilibrium afterwards. I felt some anger and despair, but eventually, I reaffirmed that I want to be led by joy. There was some joy for me in this election. I was joyful at the prospect of a good woman president. I was giddy when I thought Hillary would win.
This election has reawakened my feminist feelings in the best possible way. I’m now determined to let my joy lead me to find and promote good women politicians. I’ve already started. This is going to be fun.