It probably won’t surprise anyone to find out that in a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, 57% of Americans reported that our current political landscape stressed them.
And election time is right around the corner. This year’s “off-year election” doesn’t seem to hold as much angst as recent elections, but every election has enormous consequences for our nation and each of us. On November 8:
- U.S. Senate races will be held in one-third of all states
- All 435 members of the House of Representatives will be elected.
- Half of the country’s governors, secretaries of state, and attorneys general are in play.
- Critical state legislative and local offices, including school district leaders, will be on the ballot.
If you are an involved citizen, there is no way to avoid being concerned about all that is swirling about us, and it is much more than politics. It is about our sacred belief in the values of our democracy. After all, as John Dewey once said, “the answer to the problems of democracy is more democracy.” That probably means more stress for all of us.
As the election draws nearer, the rhetoric will heat up and a resilient mindset can help us stay above the fray. Here are some ideas to try out:
- Gain perspective from multiple points of view. Several of my neighbors have opposing political views to mine, and as we walk our dogs, we have good conversations about those perspectives. They seem to decrease in certainty when we are all picking up poop together.
- Work on behalf of your beliefs. If you feel strongly about a candidate or issue, get out there and canvass or send some money. Just know that when you enter their circle, there is no backing out and expect 10 texts a day.
- Stay away from the sound bite: TV news, website news and radio news all make their money off drama and fear. Keep it in perspective or turn it off.
- Find the win: People often think their energy is better spent trying to convince friends from the other side to change their minds. That will not happen. Instead, find the people on your side and get them to the polls. That is where the decisions will be made
- Look for the good: I saw Bill Gates on TV recently, and he was passionate about how much good is going on in the world. He shared that more than 100,000 people worldwide are lifted out of extreme poverty daily. We need more politics like that.
America is one big social experiment. Sometimes we get it right, and sometimes we get it wrong, but the sun will rise again tomorrow, and there will be more opportunities for all of us to make a difference.
© Richard Citrin, 2022