Columns/Opinion, Community Advisory Board

How to cope: Start your day with gratitude

By Wes Bergen

Some days it is difficult to recognize the country we live in. We seem to be living in a world upside-down.
The signs are everywhere. Liberals and progressives defend the FBI against attacks by the conservatives. The president attacks Canada and the Europeans while making friends with the Russians. Some people in the United States openly support neo-Nazis while others casually defend socialism. Concerns about the deficit have become a Democratic Party issue.

You and I can’t do much about these things, but we still need to live in this upside-down world. Some people prefer to hide by surrounding themselves with entertainment. They don’t read the newspaper or have a news feed on their device. But no matter how hard they try, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the changes around us.

It may be tempting to respond to this new world with fear, paranoia or anger. These are the fight-or-flight responses built into the primal parts of our brain. Many organizations and individuals are becoming successful and wealthy by exploiting these responses.
But unless you choose to go live in a bunker or a cave in the mountains, it is difficult to see how these responses can result in a better world or a better life for ourselves.

If we really want to be ready to live in the upside-down world around us, we need to begin with gratitude. I know this sounds hopelessly naive and simplistic, but don’t stop reading yet.

Gratitude reminds us of who we are and what we already have. It might look like the whole world is falling apart, but my roof doesn’t leak (much). And my children are healthy (mostly). And my dog loves me (completely). When things fall apart, I have a community to turn to for help. There is food in my fridge. And so the list goes on.

Now, make your own list: Five things you are grateful for. Don’t you feel better? Really. This is not escape. This is a way of preparing your brain to make positive change in the world.

We still live in one of the best countries in the world. Every day millions of people in this country strive to make sure it stays that way, and work to make it better. Hopefully you are one of those people. If you are not, maybe it is because you aren’t really grateful for what you already have.

We can’t fix all the problems around us. Greed, fear and hatred will continue to guide the actions of many. And you can’t fix stupid. So it doesn’t help to start there.
Start with gratitude. Start your day, your meetings, your meals and your night with gratitude. Then go out and do what needs to be done.

Wes Bergen is a member of The Dominion Post’s Community Advisory Board.