When the world seems to be falling apart and sentiments turn gloomy, the normal responses that people have aren't usually satisfying. Most people tune out what they don't want to pay attention to, while others remain permanently unhappy about current events or otherwise remain uninvolved. But if you are willing to look deeper, there are better responses.
Start by looking at the wider picture. The world has always been a mixture of good and bad, and so the challenge for you remains roughly the same as it has for everyone in every generation: to evolve personally. Personal evolution requires two things: intention and attention.
The most important intention is the desire to evolve, and you can carry out this intention every day, no matter where you find yourself. Desire is the most powerful motivator, and if you can fulfill your desire to evolve, every success will motivate you more.
Evolution typically means progress, but in terms of consciousness, a better working definition is expansion: if you can expand your consciousness today, tomorrow, and every day after that, you will evolve during your whole lifetime. The opposite of expansion is contraction, which gives you the outline for a two-step program. Every day you should try to put your attention on things that expand awareness and avoid things that lead to contracted awareness.
9 Things to Focus on for Expansion
It's possible to make a list for each category. Awareness expands when you put your attention on:
It's clear that anyone can make time for these things; it would be an impoverished life that didn't afford opportunities for at least one of them every day. Each contains its own motivation by bringing a sense of pleasure and enjoyment. Without such a feeling, however, the expansion of consciousness will not happen. If you give grudgingly or out of a sense of duty, if you are of service because you feel guilty or bound by your conscience, your actions will remain good, even worthy, but you won't feel that you have become a happier, more fulfilled person.
10 Things that Cause Awareness Contraction
Modern life is such that you may feel obligated to do things you actually dislike. There are duties and demands in family life and at work that people consider unavoidable. But once you have the daily intention to evolve, the negative side of the equation must be attended to. Awareness contracts in the presence of:
Pressure at work
Lack of sleep
Negative emotions such as anxiety, depression, and guilt
Lack of fulfillment, frustration
Excessive time demands
Old conditioning, habits, and memories
This is a somewhat intimidating list, and for many people, it is easier to take a passive attitude toward the negative side of their lives. This has a twofold effect: you deprive yourself of opportunities to evolve and you subject yourself to contracted awareness.
How to Evolve and Plan a New Lifestyle
The reason I've made the two lists is to present the possibility of bringing orderliness into your life. If you sit down and carefully consider each item, you can begin to plan a new lifestyle, devoted to your personal evolution. An easy start is to choose two things from the lists—first, identify the easiest thing you can do to evolve, then identify the easiest thing you can eliminate or improve that has kept your awareness contracted.
When you begin this way, evolution becomes easier as you progress. What you are aiming for is a lifestyle that is conscious and creative. "Creative" doesn't have to mean artistic—it means that you create your best life every day. If the negative aspects of your life have some serious dimensions, such as depression or a toxic relationship, it is necessary to reach out for help and support. It takes only a single seriously negative factor to undermine your desire to evolve, even if on the positive side you find things you love.
This sounds imbalanced because it would be nice if the positive side of life outweighed the negative, like balancing weights on a scale. But it doesn't work that way. The evolved state is open, relaxed, accepting, spontaneous, alert, curious, and engaged. These aren't things to do; they are a state to be cultivated through awareness itself. Without a sense of being open and relaxed, the positive side of the equation will simply be a distraction.
It is the underlying order and beauty of pure consciousness that makes someone's life beautiful and orderly. Therefore, meditation is a core activity, since it puts you in contact with your source in pure consciousness. The purpose of doing positive things is to allow the possibilities of pure consciousness to become manifest--beauty, love, creativity, and bliss wake up, so to speak, through you.
The world is chaotic because human beings are chaotic in their awareness. You can do external things to improve the situation; you can make your life better and the lives of others. But the only lasting solutions come from the inside. Expanded awareness makes life orderly even in the midst of disorder. There are many other things that happen, too, but an orderly mind is the best asset you can have to meet life's challenges.