The world is in a tough place. The planet is warming to dangerous levels, roughly 25 percent of humanity lives on less than four dollars a day, and authoritarianism is on the rise across the globe.
Is it the worst things have ever been? No. I remember my mom telling me that the latter part of the 1960s was awful with race riots and the Vietnam War tearing America apart. Or how about living in the middle of the 14th century when the Black Plague wiped out almost half the population of Europe? That couldn’t have been a happy time.
As we close out 2022 and look to 2023, now is as good a time as any to ask ourselves what could make things better for humankind. If told they could wave a magic wand on this question, most people would wish for things like ending hunger, eliminating wars and curing the warming of Earth.
Those are all wonderful, powerful ideas. But they don’t get to the root of the problem.
Any of you who’ve read my other stuff know what I think is the root problem plaguing humanity: People live the entirety of their lives in the direction of their fearful, selfish, sensitive egos.
With that in mind, here are the three things that, if I could wave a magic wand, I’d have every Earthling do in 2023.
1. MEDITATE FIFTEEN MINUTES A DAY
This is an obvious one. Why? Because meditation helps to gradually quiet the chatty, thinky, judgmental, fearful, egoic minds that torment us.
Meditation thickens the prefrontal cortex, the most advanced part of our brain that acts as an inhibitory influence on the amygdala, our fear and emotion center. It also reduces the size and activity of that ‘worry wart’ amygdala.
Imagine a world where people worry less, fear less and are more present…
2. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS IN DAILY LIFE
That means people become aware when they are being pulled away from the present moment. Catching the mind wandering while driving down the road, waiting in line at the market, listening to your kid tell you a story…People catch themselves doing any of these things then bring themselves back to the moment by taking some deep, conscious breaths.
Over and over and over. Every day of 2023.
The result? A planet full of people who are better able to remain present.
3. WORK ON LETTING GO
Another perennial of mine. When people get poked by some provocative event, they would notice they’ve been poked, then immediately relax all over. Then lean away from the feeling that came up in order to give it space…so we can let it go.
What are those provocative events? The boss, spouse, kid or friend says something that upsets you. And small things like getting aggravated by a slow driver. People would let go of all these things.
What is that accomplishing? Clearing out the baggage we all carry inside us. Why is that important? Because that baggage rules our lives. It determines how we feel, what decisions we make and basically everything we do in our lives…And not for the better.
What the world would look like
What would be the net result of humanity doing those three things in 2023? A more conscious world population.
And what would a more conscious world look like? I wrote an article (link) last year about that very question that I recommend reading. Suffice it to say that a more conscious world gets to the root of humanity’s problems.
What about the least fortunate?
I imagine some of you might be wondering, “Great. Meditation and all the rest might do well for those with enough food to eat in places like France and the U.S. But what about people being terrorized by Boko Haram in Nigeria? Or people starving in Sudan? What will meditation, mindfulness and letting go do for them?”
It’s a good question. In the short term they might become somewhat calmer and less fearful doing this work, but life would still be tough.
And that gets to the heart of what this piece is really about. Because it isn’t about 2023. Yes, one year of all of us doing these exercises would undoubtedly make the world a better place.
It’s about the long term
But for those suffering in Nigeria, Sudan and too many other locales around the globe, the answer isn’t short term. Because the reason most of these people are suffering has to do with the brutality inflicted on them by some pretty awful, unconscious people. A lot of it relates to tribalism of some sort dating back decades and even centuries.
And curing our world of that unconsciousness would require more than one year of meditation, mindfulness and letting go. It would mean decades and maybe even centuries. But with everybody practicing and becoming quieter inside and more present…peace would eventually come.
And that is why I’m doing the work that I’m doing. Trying to spread these practices to as wide an audience as possible to help as many people as possible achieve greater quiet inside.
I don’t have that magic wand. But I do have those of you reading this who I hope are doing the work of quieting down and letting go. And maybe getting family and friends to do the same.
A new year is about to begin. Let’s rev up those inner engines and move this consciousness thing forward.
I wish you all a happier, quieter, more peaceful 2023.