I've been asked numerous times how I'm able to stay optimistic in the face of so much crazy.
I haven't always been so optimistic. I've always known that I should try to be though...I definitely wanted to be happy and joyful. If you don't want to be happy, it aint gonna happen (we gotta be honest, there's parts of us that feed off anger!).
First off: anger is a normal, natural response to things that suck. It's a very important emotion! It's a sign that we're not fleshy blobs meandering about wasting oxygen. But it's no place to set up camp. If you're angry, sit in it. Feel it. Own it. Yell, stomp, punch a pillow - there's healthy ways to respond to anger. Letting it fuel your reactivity to things that suck can be toxic and cause more drama going forward. Not helpful. Disease causing. Ultimately destructive to our goals for peace.
So where's my YeeHaw disposition coming from?!?!?!
Less short answer (with great book suggestions):
Ultimately, it felt shitty to be angry. My gut in knots, my fuse short, my heart pounding every time I encountered altercation or disturbing information. I became disgusted by my own species. I had a hard time hanging out with folks and not talking about social and political justice issues. Eww ptewy buzz kill! I knew deep down that this a) isn't good for the quality of my life and b) wasn't going to encourage others to listen to my message of compassion for animals / the planet / justice in general.
In college, while my blinders were being blown off about how horribly abused our planet and her inhabitants are in the name of greed, I asked a light-hearted and wise professor how she's not a raging bull about everything going on. She said "It's a personal choice you'll have to make at some point." Part of me read that as "You have to go numb and / or sell out." Another part of me knew she was onto something, but I was waaaaaay far from even seeing there was a tunnel, let alone the light at the end of one.
Throughout those 2 years earning my Bachelor's, I learned so much about the human enterprise and became increasingly bitter and depressed. Oh, and drunk. Yes I was pickled a lot. (Clearly this blocks and prolongs the healing process since it just numbs you out and adds to your drama, so I do NOT recommend it.) Oh, and therapy. Lots of therapy.
I began reading books like "The Road Less Traveled" by Dr. Scott Peck, knowing that my response to the worlds issues was my choice. It never felt like I was choosing anger and depression, but I knew that emotionally breaking down wasn't helping heal the world. Closing my eyes or lashing out weren't options either. So I chose to invest in my peace - an inside job.
The Dali Lama's "Ethics for the New Millennium" and Peter Singer's "Ethics Into Action" were priceless tools for envisioning an action plan. I knew I had to actually DO something, just didn't know what.
I had also been introduced to the power of personal energy. My first read was The Celestine Prophecy, a book on how our life experiences are determined by our energy field. Then onto the human culture as seen today by way of the Mutant Message Down Under (I read this one 5 times and sent copies out as gifts).
I kept hearing how powerful meditation was so I began trying that too. It didn't stick very well, but I kept trying.
When I graduated college, I still had a long way to go to find inner peace in the face of all the chaos. I knew I wanted to help and continued with my own personal development. I met many amazing souls on my journey, like Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (the Compassionate Cook) who lectures on many things vegan, specifically being a "Joyful Vegan". This talk, and many of her other podcasts, kept my heart and head in alignment in my darkest days (her recipes make ya drool too ;-).
As I mentioned, doing activism full-time sucked me in. This is a precursor to burnout - no bueno. I read Patrice Jones book "Aftershock", which was a huge help for reiterating the need for balance. Developing hobbies, dancing, hiking, playing with m'gatos - these things breed sanity and yay's :)
While channeling my energy into peaceful activism, I sought out guidance from veterans in the advocacy world. One recurring tip was that all we need to do is raise consciousness / awareness. That people are already decent by nature and just need to see what's going on (animal abuse specifically). That they will take steps to help if we give them the chance. Connecting with hundreds of thousands of people showed me that people DO care about suffering. The more I healed my own wounds, the clearer this message could come through (because my perspective cleared - huge piece of our reality rests on just our interpretation of reality versus what is REALLY reality).
To better understand humanity I read books like: Ishamel, The Tipping Point, The Leader in You, and the mother load of all mother loads: A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's True Purpose.
I can't recommend these above mentioned books higher. Seriously read read read. There are many more fabulous resources out there, but these are the ones that fell on my path. Especially A New Earth. That opened my eyes to the human condition (ego) so I better understood the "playing field" and players (myself included).
The more I healed the pain inside of me, the harder it was for me to be "derailed" if someone disagreed with my message.
I know the world is evolving to be a more loving inclusive place. The more I healed my wounds, the louder this message got. I see why there's so much chaos and pain in the world. It's not because people suck (you would never have convinced me in college!), it's because good souls have been otherwise occupied by living while an unconscious minority took the wheel, steering us bat shit crazy. We're waking up (thanks to said bat shit) and are stepping into our power, recognizing that only love is real, and will begin to co-create a world that's born out of that space of love and inclusion. There will be bumps and bruises but I know it...I see it. And if you believe it, you will see it. It's our choice!
I hope this was helpful for you. Feedback and questions are welcome :)
Make love your bottom line. NOW'S the time! <3
An east coast native, Nikki spent her college years and beyond as an activist for animals, the environment and social justice issues. Needing to make sense of and come to peace with everything along the way, she began her work on the spiritual level. When she realized that the conditions of our outer world are just reflecting the conditions of humanities inner world, her focus shifted to energy healing arts and yoga. Now a Reiki Master and Yoga Instructor living in San Rafael, California, she coaches clients and groups on vibration raising practices for self love and personal mastery - the recipe for global peace.
Services offered listed under HEALING SERVICES tab.