By Mark Bauer
On Tuesday Sam Harris tweeted a simple question: Are we sick of this yet?
The prominent author never clarified what, exactly, he was referencing. But plenty of people were quick to assign their own interpretations. My brother is the one who sent me the tweet, and he ascribed the question to a societal malaise—a general feeling of hopelessness, despair, bickering, nastiness.
We write regularly at Rank the Vote about increasing polarization, and how polarization is a symptom of a broken electoral system that doesn’t adequately represent our interests and values. With midterms coming up next year, there doesn’t appear to be any relief in sight.
When people feel hopeless they tend to disengage; it’s human nature. But as we round out 2021 and begin to set goals for the next year, I’d ask that instead of disengaging you turn your energy toward constructive outlets. My brother, for example, is tuning out the political noise to focus on bettering his life around him, where he has influence. He’s tending his garden, trying to be present instead of allowing his mind to drift around what boogeyman is hiding around the next corner. Research shows that has a profound impact on happiness.
Research shows that participating in moral deeds, like helping someone, donating to charity or volunteering increase life satisfaction and our feeling of purpose in life. Indeed, it really is better to give than to receive.
But where to begin? Start with what you’re passionate about. If you’re passionate about something, you’re more likely to stick with it. Whether it’s volunteering at a food bank, homeless shelter, or simply writing a check to any of the aforementioned.
Maybe you’re interested in politics, but you’re sick of the politics as usual. Plenty of political reform organizations exist that are seeking to change the status quo. Identify an issue that’s near and dear to your heart, find an organization working to reform it, and join a local chapter phone banking or knocking on doors to generate more awareness around the topic.
If you’re sick of how things are going in the world, volunteering could help you feel better about yourself, but it could also help change some of the things contributing to the feelings of hopelessness in the first place.
Mark Bauer is a producer, entrepreneur, day trader and former Independent candidate for Congress in Texas. Previously he spent 10 years as a legal journalist covering the legal market in Texas and regulatory issues in Washington DC. Mark’s primary interests involve using content and storytelling to help different groups of people better understand one another.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Rank the Vote, its members, supporters, funders, or affiliates.