THE BLOG
06/08/2010 02:55 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Mind Pollution: The Spillover of BP's Mess

"Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy."
- Joseph Campbell

I want to express some thoughts I've been having in the wake of the massive BP oil spill. Many of my friends and close family members have become angry, sad and even depressed because of the oily mess in the Gulf. I fully believe in expressing your emotions and giving them voice. I also believe that there's no excuse for what happened down in the Gulf, and the optimist in me hopes this will be a giant wake up call for us to see the massive negative effects of the current way we consume energy.

I also believe that because almost all of us drive cars that use gasoline we all partially share in the responsibility for this spill. But this blog isn't about the oil spill. This blog is about YOU.

(Btw, I have included information about what you can do to help folks in the Gulf below.)

I want to take a step back for a moment, away from emotions, away from the environmental concerns, away from the pundits, agendas, bleeding hearts, anger and hype. Let's talk about you. In a larger than life sense the BP oil spill is like any problem that comes up in life. A divorce. A loved one dies. You lose money. Things didn't turn out the way you thought. A traffic jam. There are literally thousands of examples of "problems" that you face on a yearly basis. And many times do you ask "Why did this happen?" or "Why me?"

As Caroline Myss says, asking "why" is the single most toxic question you could ask when it comes to the philosophy or "meaning" behind why something happened. In BP's case, I'm not talking about technical "why" -- the "how" -- the spill happened, I'm talking about the philosophical "Why did this have to happen?" Questions like this can leave you paralyzed for a long time: a day, a week, a decade or even longer!

When problems come up in life, many times we become so focused on the overwhelming emotions of asking "why" that we block ourselves from growth and from solving the problem. Myss' solution is to instead of asking "why?", ask "what did I learn?" Your answer will be why it happened!

Now let's take the BP oil spill. If you're like me, you are obviously upset about what happened. If you're like me you really wish the oil spill didn't happen. And if you're like me you want something like this to never happen again. Most of us either don't know what to do or how to help or are too busy to really do anything about the spill (besides perhaps donating towards cleanup efforts). Below are some solutions for you.

For those of you who are clearly upset about the spill, obsessing over every picture that comes out, I ask the following question: Where is there pollution in your own life that you could be cleaning up?

Many times the sadness within finds outer circumstances to focus upon and express itself. Instead of obsessing over this spill and other problems in your life and feeling victimized, how can you respond in a positive way? The time it takes to complain about a problem could be used to do something about it.

What's happened in the Gulf is a tragedy indeed, but the real tragedy would be that the oil pollution in the Gulf spills over and becomes mind pollution in your brain. Either do something about it (volunteer, give money, etc) or accept it. Problems arise daily and when you can learn to respond to them with power instead of react to them with fear, you will begin to grow.

How would your life be different if you decided to face all the challenges in your life? I bet you'd have a lot less to complain about and much more to be grateful for.

As Joe Campbell says, "We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy." Knowing this, what can you do to choose to live in joy today in spite of the oil spill and your problems?

If you want to get involved and help, click here.

Subscribe to the Lifestyle email.
We’re basically your best friend… with better taste.