If your sanity is suffering as Election Day approaches, I suggest a Negativity Fast–which is similar to a fast from food except far more pleasant because you give up toxic mental sludge instead of delicious pizza and ice cream.
The basic idea of fasting is to abstain from worldly pleasures for spiritual purposes. With this particular Negativity Fast, we are giving up all things mentally icky to keep all our marbles between now and November 9th. (While this goal doesn’t exactly qualify as spiritual, it’s awfully hard to be spiritual without marbles. Or something.)
Since toxic mental sludge is everywhere, negativity is a bit harder to avoid than food. But have no fear– fasting is possible!
For sanity salvation, reading and repeat Negativity Fast Oath, calibrated for election season.
The Negativity Fast Oath
From this moment through November 9th, I absolutely, categorically refuse to do any of the following:
- Moan, Whine, or Complain
- State opinions as facts and/or name-call name callers
- Decry the Horrible State Of Our Union (in person or online)
- Yell, Scream, or Stomp (in person or online)
- Engage in heated and/or cold-war fights with family, friends, strangers, the television, or the dog
- Consume excess media that makes my blood pressure skyrocket
- Take very firm and incredibly loud stands on all the Issues (many of which I have failed to research, know little to nothing about, and will forget about after November 9th)
- USE ALL CAPS TO YELL AT PEOPLE ON THE INTERNET…
- …OR USE MORE ALL CAPS THIS TIME IN BOLD TO GET ACROSS MY VERY IMPORTANT POINT THAT IS SO CLEARLY MORE RIGHT than your unimportant wrong point
With the time and energy I would have spent doing the above, I will choose to practice Gratitude and Kindness:
When I see, read, or experience something deplorable that makes me feel angry/sick/ill, I will use the energy of those icky feelings as fuel to do something kind.
[ I was so angry after a politically abusive elevator ride that I gave away my yoga mat to an older gentleman who said he “wanted to try yoga but didn’t have a mat”. I am under no delusion that this random act of kindness changed the world, but it did change me—from someone angry into someone kind. It changed the older gentleman’s face into a huge smile. ]
When I am tempted to complain, moan, whine, wail, or gnash my teeth, I will remember that change begins with me.
[I know, I know… it totally stinks when you can’t blame anyone else for your problems.]
When I begin to dwell on things I have no influence on, I will remind myself to act kindly in the matters I do have control over.
When people around me discuss (read: debate/argue/spontaneously combust) I will be grateful that I live in a country where we are allowed to have opinions—and even to argue about them, if we so choose.
[Then I will quietly excuse myself and hide out in the bathroom/go offline until their storm blows over. I’m recovering from serious depression, people. I don’t need any extra toxic emotions.]
I solemnly vow to avoid negativity in all its forms, at all times, so help me God.
[And when I slip up, I’ll just get back up and try again.]
[Or “Cheers”, if “Amen” makes you sweat.]
As you observe the 9 vows of this Negativity Fast Oath, your toxic mental sludge will go down and your sanity will go up.
You’ll find yourself reading something terrible online, and clicking the window closed so you can make a positive comment on a friend’s page. When you hear something awful, you’ll say a kind word to the next person you see. And when you want to protest—You WILL.
You’ll protest what you hate by living what you love.
Fasting of any kind opens up space and time in your life—that’s part of its purpose, but the fastest way to quit fasting is to leave that time and space empty. So fill up the vacuum created by the loss of negativity with positive actions like doing random acts of kindness or writing down the many things you are grateful for. (Even watching silly YouTube videos will do, as long as the kittens/penguins in sweaters/talking babies bring you joy.)
Otherwise, you’ll end up back on Facebook, yelling in bold caps…AND WE DON’T WANT THAT!
For daily inspiration & ideas, follow Reba Riley, author of Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: One Woman’s Desperate, Funny, Healing Journey To Explore 30 Religions By Her 30th Birthday on Facebook & Twitter or check out her Random Acts of Kindness (R.A.K. of the Day) on Instagram.
Starting November 1st, take the #GratefulToGood Challenge & to make gratitude and kindness go viral this holiday season!