Being Alive is Being Imperfect
by Amit Sood (with a frame by Heather M. F. Lyke)
— The original version of this piece was first published in Dec. 2020 by the Rochester Post Bulletin --
Just like you can't get your home's radon levels to zero, you can't completely empty your mind of negative thoughts and feelings.
I work with everyone in my role at Dover-Eyota schools, both in classrooms and outside of them. Collaborativly, staff and I work with students, or we meet to plan for future work with students: anything to help students grow. This year, whether it be during an online check-in or over an outdoor beer after work, conversations have been particularly interesting. This week alone, four staff have made note of how much more they are grinding their teeth this year versus past years. I can relate.
This has been a school year like no other. Our staff, students, and community are having to navigate more stress and more negativity than many have had to process in years past. Knowing that, what can we do?
A few years ago, we discovered high radon levels in our home, three-fold higher than the desired. Suddenly, our basement felt like a live nuclear reactor.
With the pump installed and the radon back to less than 2.0 pCi/L, our sleep quality crawled back to normal. Then I had a brilliant idea--why not take radon levels down to zero? Just to compensate for the years of radiation. Few quick clicks on the internet, and I knew that wasn’t possible. Radon is part of the natural environment. Its level can be reduced, but not eliminated.
It turns out this is true for most other toxins. The normal blood mercury level is less than 10 micrograms/liter. It isn't zero. Even if you never enjoyed grilled mackerel or a tuna sandwich, you still will have some mercury in your body. The same is true for lead, arsenic, aluminum, and now micro-plastics.
“Isn’t that true also for negative thoughts?” I thought.
Our minds can’t have zero anger, zero fear, zero sadness, zero envy, zero falsehood. Research shows that for most of us, negative thoughts often exceed positive thoughts. I don’t know anyone who sits in a corner thinking just happy thoughts.
Every week I think thoughts I would rather not think. Being alive is being imperfect.
Here are three ways you can leverage these insights:
If you agree with the preceding, then...
Here is your challenge:
I wish you peace, health, joy, love, and healing in 2021.
Dr. Sood, my dentist (and my pocketbook) thank you for this. I suspect my colleagues' dentists will be thanking you, too.
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