An Environmentalist Who’s Not Depressed?

November 28, 2016 at 9:48 pm Leave a comment

Contributed by Dr. Sarah

While many are struggling with post-election blue , there’s an environmental professional who is not depressed. That’s right.

We woke up on November 9th, and the world had changed. Environmental leaders– and Democratic campaign staffers, people whose rights are fragile, concerned citizens, among others–have been reeling. Worried. Depleted. Overwhelmed. Disoriented.

But Brad Warren— my brother, Director of Global Ocean Health, who was featured in the June, 2016 Spheres of Influence Virtual Round Table— is not depressed. Concerned, absolutely. But not depressed.

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What’s his secret?

First, he practices meditation. Shortly after the election, he told me that meditation allows him to feel whatever there is to feel. Anxiety. Fear. Dread. Anger. Helplessness. Sadness. Whatever there is to feel. It doesn’t need to be squelched, or drowned, or avoided by leaping into premature action for the sake of action alone in this time of existential crisis.

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“The leader has to recognize when negative emotions like frustration, impatience, anger, lack of self-confidence, jealousy, greed start to influence his thought processes… These negative thoughts and emotions not only can lead to wrong decisions but also waste mind energy.” The Dalai Lama

Brad’s meditation practice allows him to regroup, to restore himself for the work ahead, to reflect on what has happened and why, and to ground his recalibration of his strategy in reflection rather than reaction.

His use of meditation allows him to get out of the reactive mode we’re in when we are driven by fear– when our minds our constricted–, and shift into reflection, which sets the stage for thoughtful analysis and strategic, considered response. Reflection also sets the stage for collaboration, including collaborating with others with whom we may differ.

Second, Brad has found his purpose. His clarity about his direction allows him to harness his emotions, his mind, his energy towards a strategic end. He is very clear about his role as an advocate for the stakeholders whose interests are threatened by of the unregulated waste stream that is CO2 pollution — the largest of any source of pollution, ever. An unregulated waste stream that holds the potential to disrupt every aspect of our lives, from our economy to national security to our health.

And so he continues to work with tribes along the Pacific who rely on fishing for their food and their livelihoods, to serve as a translator of science so that non-scientists can understand what’s at stake for them–especially on the policy front– and to convene seafood industry magnates whose businesses will die without fish to sell — to restaurants, to grocery stores, to us.

Occasionally I speak here as a psychologist.  This is one of those moments. As we prepare for the road ahead, we can all benefit from grounding ourselves before we jump into action. For Brad Warren, his purpose was already clear. For many, that purpose remains unclear, and the process of sorting out how to make a contribution is ongoing. There is much to do, on many fronts. Inner clarity can help wisely discern our course and inform the strategies that we adopt in this unprecedented time.

Zen and the Art of Strategy. How’s that for a book title?

 

 

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Love, Responsibility and Voting Still I Rise… with my sons

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