5 Strategies to Stay Sane in an Insane World
One of my favorite Hasidic stories.
From Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (Rabbi from the 18th century):
A king once told his prime minister, who was also his good friend: “I see in the stars that everyone who eats from this year’s grain harvest is going to go mad. What do you think we should do?”
The prime minister suggested they should put aside a stock of good grain so they would not have to eat from the tainted grain.
“But it will be impossible to set aside enough good grain for everyone,” the king objected. “And if we put away a stock for just the two of us, we will be the only ones who will be sane. Everyone else will be mad, and they will look at us and think that we are the mad ones.”
“No. We too will have to eat from this year’s grain. But we will both put a sign on our heads. I will look at your forehead, and you will look at mine. And when we see the sign, at least we will remember that we are mad.”
As with most of R. Nachman’s stories, this parable is very deep.
Some of you may be feeling this way, too.
Am I mad–or is it this world that’s insane?
Thankfully, we are not quite at this point yet. Things aren’t bad enough (yet) where it’s time to grab a few friends, put marks on our heads and drink the Kool-Aid.
But it certainly feels like we’re headed in that direction.
So, what can we do? Where and how should we focus our energies?
It can be disempowering to focus too much attention on current events–i.e., police brutality, the political circus, terrorism–i.e., over which we have little control.
5 Strategies to Stay Sane:
1)Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed by things that are out of your control.
2)Band together. Surround yourself with people who lift you up.
3)Smile. We will all one die one day. Life is short.
4)Cultivate inner peace.
The last one is definitely the toughest for me. If you are reading this, you may also be the type who follows the beat of their own drummer.
There is a great analysis of another version of this Hasidic story (that you can read here) which remarks on how difficult it is to be an individual in our society.
Societal forces are always corralling us to walk the line and not wander too far from the mainstream. In whatever way you are attempting to stay sane and remain an individual–i.e., to be true to yourself–I want you to know, from the deepest depths of my heart: I believe in you. I honor you. I love you.
The poet, e.e. cummings, may have said it best:
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight.