02 August 2023

How can we stay sane when it feels like the world is going crazy?

I’ve been asked to speak about this a number of times at conferences in the past few years, mainly because we live in a world that is spinning ever faster, and good news is often hard to find. I thought I might share a few thoughts for those out there who need to hear it.
How can we stay sane when it feels like the world is going crazy?
We are living in a world where there is way too much bad news bombarding us twenty four hours a day. At times, it really does get hard to stay positive and focused when it feels like the world is going crazy.
Of course apart from retaining our sanity, we also need to maintain our productivity. We can’t slide into depression, throw our hands up in the air and run away. I’m not saying we should live in denial, or ignore what is going on in the world, but like all information coming in, we need to manage it, learn from it and move on.
These are seven strategies I use daily to help me stay sane in a crazy world:
1. Proactively protect your mind-don’t just sit back and absorb the negativity.
Interestingly enough, according to Seth Godin, the world has grown less violent every decade for the past thousand years. It sure doesn’t feel that way. What has changed though is the sheer volume of news that we are being bombarded with every minute of every day. When something bad happens, we certainly know about it. It makes really good sense to protect your mind by being extremely discerning with what you watch, what you read and what you listen to. Sure, find out what is going on, but then that is enough. Do we really need to read or listen to a hundred articles about the same murder?
2. Look for the good-not for the bad.
When the world seems to be going crazy, it can be hard to see the good. But rest assured it is there and in fact there is far more good going on than crazy. It’s just that you have to know where to find it. This means we need to consciously hunt down the things that make us feel good, the websites, the articles, the radio, the television shows, the people, and the places we love. A lot of people complain about cute pet videos on social media, but really, I would much rather watch them than videos of violent crime that have been aired on every medium a thousand times. If I scroll, I want every post to make me feel better about myself, the world and the people in it.
3. Do as many kind deeds as you can.
In the darkest of times the smallest acts of kindness have the greatest impact. Whenever the world seems dark and gloomy, I find that the more kind deeds I can do for others, the better I feel. Little things like giving someone a parking space, donating to a charity, carrying a bag or reaching out to help someone who needs some support. Do what nurtures you, do it selflessly, and do it as often as you can. And I’ve found that the best time to be kind to others, is when you don’t have the time. It snaps you out of being caught up in your own little world.
4. Avoid the situations (and people) where negativity rules.
It’s interesting to see how quickly conversations turn to negative topics, and of course it is quite natural when the topic is current. But we all play a role in keeping these conversations alive. I find that I have to make a conscious decision not to participate in the conversations that are all about doom and gloom. Whenever they take that direction, I leave or disconnect. I also make a point of avoiding those people who seem to revel in talking about the latest bad news story, they can’t wait to dive straight in and get to the nitty gritty of the latest calamity.
5. Do more of the things that make you smile inside and out.
We all have those things that make us feel good, and I mean good right to our core. The things that comfort us, make us smile and feel warm inside. They may be spending time with that special person, or that special family member (and of course here I mean the four legged kind). I know that if I am feeling down, spending a few minutes playing fetch and zoomies and the world is a whole lot better. We all have those special things that evoke a wonderful sense of inner peace, contentment and gratitude. The key is to remember what they are and do them often, especially when it feels like the world is going crazy.
6. Get excited and clear about your future.
It is easy to lose hope or to feel overwhelmed when there doesn’t appear to be a lot of good news around. But these are the times that we have to shift our focus to appreciate the people in our lives, our businesses and what it does for us, the difference we make to others, the opportunities ahead, and the way we can make the world a better place. In the toughest of times I’ve learned that being able to “see over the fence” helps to pull me forward as opposed to feeling overwhelmed by what’s going on around me.
7. Treat this as a daily practice.
We know that if we want to be fit, we need to exercise daily. If we want to grow our business, we need to work on it daily. The same principle applies with building a strong and positive outlook on life, we need to work on it daily. Many of us have developed bad habits around what we watch, what we listen to, what we read and what we say. I work at this every day, to be as positive a person as I can be, then help others be more positive. It doesn’t sound like much, but it is me doing my part to make the world a better place. My advice is, make this approach to life a conscious decision, and even more importantly a philosophy to live by.
The world is only going to keep spinning faster, that means there’s more for us to deal with on a day to day basis. Right now it’s the economy, it’s AI, it’s climate, it’s politics and so on. Rest assured there will be more to deal with in the coming years. That’s what it means to be a human living on planet earth. So to me, this means it’s a good idea to have a strategy or two up your sleeve to help. These are mine, I hope they help you.

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