HEART AND MIND – November 2023

There’s a lot of grim news from the world lately—Israel, Gaza, Washington, Maine,
Ukraine. There is so much that major events are barely mentioned, like the unprecedented
category 5 hurricane in Acapulco. All this as the cold and dark of autumn begins to close in
around us. I know that if I’m not careful, I could find that all of these things can bring me

In an article published by the American Psychological Association, there is growing concern that the way we consume news in the internet age, besides increasing anxiety, even worse, erodes our resilience. Bad news can increase our sense of feeling threatened and powerless, which can even begin to have physical effects on our bodies. There is cause to believe that people are not coping as well with the news and the feelings it stirs.

So, we have to learn new coping skills, and be sure to take time away from the news to process and “right size.” It is important to be aware of what is happening to me, now, in my time and physical location. It may sound silly that we need to remind ourselves of such a thing, but as empathetic people, it is not far-fetched to get emotionally invested in events far away.

A positive and practical way to connect ourselves with tragic events in other places, and help to empower our resilience, is work toward our values. Our resilience may weaken if we feel powerless. So an antidote and a resilience builder would be to actively participate in building community or helping people. We may not be able to offer a helping hand in a faraway place, but there are a multitude of organizations here that can put hands to use. We may not be able to directly help bring about peace in Holy Land, but we might work to find common cause with our adversaries in our village.

And as the season of thanks is now upon us, it is good to remember to stop in the midst of all our troubles, far away and near at hand, to remember to take a breath and give thanks. Gratitude bolsters resilience like nothing else can. Whether guided by invisible forces, the result of our efforts, or just blind good luck, when I look around, I know I have so much to be grateful for that I need not fear eroding resilience.

It is good to recall that above the dark clouds the sun shines brightly. I conclude with words of W.E.B. DuBois: Give us thankful hearts…in this the season of Thy Thanksgiving. May we be thankful for health and strength, for sun and rain and peace. Let us seize the day and the opportunity and strive for that greatness of spirit that measures life not by its disappointments, but by its possibilities, and let us ever remember that true gratitude and appreciation shows itself neither in independence nor satisfaction, but passes the gift joyfully on in larger and better form.