February 27, 2018
There was an interesting article I read on USA Today about the state of the nation and how “exhausted” Americans are. I saw the possible causes:
Wildfires, terror attacks, rising tensions with North Korea, racist rallies, political investigations in Washington, the non-stop barrage of presidential tweets, more and worse mass shootings from Las Vegas to Florida, a tsunami of sexual harassment accusations, the role of Russians in our elections, climate change, red state-blue state division and not one, not two, but three of the worst hurricanes on record — including one that nearly blew Puerto Rico out of the Caribbean Sea.
When I read this, I immediately thought about the first chapter, “Life,” of my book Thrive Medicine and when I first started writing it in mid-2016, we as a nation was also hit by natural disasters, confusing government leadership, racial and gender debates, and also mass shootings. And I agree with the USA Today article, it doesn’t seem to have an end. So, I pondered these questions:
- What can we do about this?
- Will this be our future as Americans or as humans of this planet, simply doomed?
- Are there strategies we can implement that can change the course of our path?
Like all curious conversations that needed more thought, I turned to my sister who is a certified health coach, BodyTalk Practitioner and very curious intellect in her own right. Taking the latest unfortunate mass shooting that occurred in Parkland, FL as an example, she reminded me that we are not focusing on the “right” perspective. We are putting too much emphasis and concentration on the problem and literally creating a “monster” out of it. She explained that we must reframe our thoughts on cultivating peace rather than just simply reducing shootings. If you look at the media nowadays, everything is focused on us bickering, arguing, and yelling at each other. It does not matter whether someone is right or wrong, the constant bickering further reinforces our “problem”. We are less focused on WHY we are fighting each other, to begin with. When I looked into this further I learned it actually stems back to our evolutionary brain and our relation to our primate ancestors. Two things were brought up that were associated with self-killings: “territoriality and living in social groups.” I was also shocked to learn that according to the research of 1,024 species of mammals, Homo Sapiens were 7 times higher in lethal violence than your average mammal species!
After my conversation with my sister, I was reminded of Mother Teresa and her thoughts about peace.
I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there. - Mother Teresa
So what do we do?
- Well, for one our focus and perspective needs to shift. If all we see is a war outside of us, then that is what will persist. We must first learn to quiet the “war-inside” of us before we can understand that there is no need for war outside of us. Focus on cultivating your inner peace or quiet mind. Solitude, deep breathing, yoga, meditation are just some ways to facilitate that.
- Practice gratitude. Far too often, we forget what we do have as opposed to what we lack in our lives. Having a gratitude journal or practice reminds us that there is always something that we can be grateful for. For me, it is the ability to speak and write to communicate to my patients, clients, and family and friends.
- Hate and Fear are learned behaviors. A baby is not born out of the womb with hate, this is a learned behavior. Society, culture and family upbringing plays a large role in this, but being aware of where your anger stems from is the first step. Let us start by raising kind children.
- As a board-certified Lifestyle physician and plant-based chef, it is also essential for me to advocate that our diet and lifestyle also play a large role in mental health. A plant-based lifestyle has been shown to improve depression, anxiety, tension, anger and work productivity.*
At the end of the day, there is no “me versus you”, and no “them versus us”. There is only us, human beings. If we are not careful and mindful, there will be no us for any longer.
So, who is ready to rise up?
Dr. Colin Zhu is a board-certified lifestyle medicine physician and plant-based chef and is the author of the new book: Thrive Medicine: How to Cultivate Your Desires and Elevate Your Life, now on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.