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Find Your Purpose Through Politics

Find Your Purpose Through Politics

With a smile, you pass through the long security line at the United States Capitol building in Washington, DC. While the line of tourists streams forward into the Exhibition Hall, you turn right and head to the Senate appointment desk. There, you sign in, get an ID badge, and are guided by a security officer to a large meeting room. You mingle with political staffers, reporters, and various notables. Soon, your state’s Senator walks in. You introduce yourself, talk to the Senator one-on-one for several minutes, describe what you care about, and how he or she can help to improve US policy. The Senator hears you out, responds to your concerns, and connects with you on a human level.

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6-1-2 Rationality in Politics (Facebook)

    This story may sound unreal, but it does happen. I’m living proof, as that is my story.

    I, along with Agnes Vishnevkin, my wife and fellow Intentional Insights co-founder, met with Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown at the constituent coffee hour that he holds regularly. We talked with him about the issues we cared about, such as using reason and science to inform education and family planning. We also shared with him about Intentional Insights and its mission of translating complex academic research into practical strategies and tools that help people achieve their goals in daily life. He heard us out and expressed support for our issues and perspectives, and endorsed the mission of Intentional Insights. I was especially surprised when, after I told him I research meaning and purpose and decision-making practices in the Soviet Union, he started speaking to me in Russian. Apparently, he studied Russian as his undergraduate major, and still remembered it, which impressed me quite a bit.

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      So, what does this political advocacy have to do with meaning and purpose? Well, a strong sense of meaning and purpose clearly correlates with serving others. Likewise, developing and cultivating social and community bonds generally leads to a powerful feeling of a meaningful and purposeful life. Our meeting with Senator Brown at constituent coffee hour included both.

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      We met Senator Brown as part of the 2014 Lobby Day and Policy Conference hosted by the Secular Coalition for America. We received training in how to lobby politicians, panel presentations on how to advocate for reason-based political decision-making, and supporting materials on the benefits of using science and data to inform policy. Such political advocacy offers an indirect but powerful means of serving others through influencing the government to adopt the most rational approaches in serving the public good. Moreover, the event offered the opportunity to develop and cultivate social and community bonds with fellow Americans who cared about reason-oriented political decision-making. I was excited and enthused to meet so many others across the country who wanted the government to make decisions based on rational evidence, not on traditional cached thinking patterns, gut reactions, genetic differences, or anti-science dogmatic claims.

      How you can get involved

      You don’t have to go to Washington to lobby your politicians. I carried my enthusiasm back home to Ohio, and indeed Ohio holds an annual Ohio Secular Summit, where you can lobby your state representatives in the same way that Agnes and I lobbied Senator Brown. And you can do so with other members of your community.

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      For example, Agnes and I are part of the Humanist Community of Central Ohio, which organized a speaker to present about the Ohio Secular Summit before it occurred, and then Agnes compiled a blog post based on the experiences of those who participated. Ohio also has a highly active forum for political activities of interest to reason-minded individuals, where you can find out about relevant issues. Besides lobbying your representatives in person, you can call them, send them letters, e-mail them, sign petitions, and so on, and know you are participating in a broader action with others who care about the government making rationally-informed policies. To locate your own state forum, check out the Secular Coalition for America’s state chapters. Also, consider getting engaged in local politics, by learning about how local politics works, by voting in all elections and especially local ones, by being a poll watcher and vote counter, by running for local office, and in many other ways.

      Finding purpose through political advocacy

      The Ohio Secular Summit blog post describes how those who participated found it an empowering and meaningful experience. This demonstrates on a concrete level the research-based evidence of how we can gain a sense of purpose and meaning from serving others through political advocacy, especially when united together with members of our community in a way that helps cultivate social bonds. Calling, sending letters, e-mailing, and signing petitions is harder to translate into a visceral sense of meaning and purpose. I would suggest stopping and thinking intentionally about how you serve others through your political advocacy to advance the public good. Through such actions, you can become a true agent of change in your society, and find meaning and purpose through helping create a world where the government relies on research-based strategies to evaluate reality clearly and make effective decisions, enabling all of us to live happy, healthy, fulfilling, and flourishing lives.

      Here are some questions you might consider posing to yourself:

      • Have you engaged in any political advocacy, by yourself or with others, in your social circle?
      • If so, what benefits do you think you gained?
      • If not, how could you gain benefits from doing so? How could your local community and our society as a whole benefit from such activities on your part?
      • If you think these activities would be beneficial for you, what are some practical steps you can take to help yourself and others in your social circle engage in political advocacy?

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      Dr. Gleb Tsipursky

      President and Co-Founder at Intentional Insights; Disaster Avoidance Consultant

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      Last Updated on January 18, 2019

      7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

      7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

      Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

      But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

      If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

      1. Limit the time you spend with them.

      First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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      In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

      Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

      2. Speak up for yourself.

      Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

      3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

      This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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      But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

      4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

      Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

      This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

      Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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      5. Change the subject.

      When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

      Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

      6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

      Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

      I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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      You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

      Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

      7. Leave them behind.

      Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

      If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

      That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

      You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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