America is a pretty angry place these days. Formerly respectful spaces like school board meetings have become bitter battlegrounds. Some people are harassing healthcare workers and threatening restaurant staff for enforcing COVID protocols. Others are openly furious with the vaccine hesitant. Everyone, wherever they stand on the (deeply divided) political playing field, is outraged about something.
Sure, anger is part of the human condition, but have things always been this bad? Elaine Parke thinks not—and she has a plan to get America the anger management tools it needs.
“We’ve stopped listening to one another because we’ve become addicted to our own narrow and sometimes selfish points of view,” says Parke, author of The Habits of Unity: 12 Months to a Stronger America…one citizen at a time (Outskirts Press, 2021, ISBN: 978-1-9772-4276-1, $21.95, www.12habits4allofus.org). “And we seem to have lost sight of the notion that we’re personally responsible for our own behavior.
“It’s way past time for us to take a collective deep breath and treat others with dignity, respect, and civility—and listen to them—whether we agree or not,” she adds. “It’s urgent that we make this shift now.”
Dialing down our ire is easier said than done. We are living in extraordinarily stressful times. But there’s more at play. Parke says we are shaped by the messages we consistently consume—and in today’s connected world, a lot of those messages come from our digital diet.
“Social media isn’t solely to blame for stoking our emotional flames—in fact, it was designed to be a source of information and to bring people together,” Parke clarifies. “But if your newsfeed is making you an angrier person, it’s on you to either log off for a few days or reassess the kind of content you’re engaging with. When we choose to focus on stories that are positive and nourishing, we go a long way toward resetting our emotional equilibrium.”
Parke’s The Habits of Unity is her attempt to help people take charge of what she calls their “Mental Nutrition.” Much in the same way that we (hopefully) approach the food we eat, we need to develop the discipline to make more nutritious mental choices every day. Her book’s 365 “one-magic-minute-a-day” motivationals make it easy to hardwire these choices into habit.
With her simple, doable framework for uplifting ourselves, boosting our mental health, and practicing unity, Parke hopes to get everyone focused on the same branded behavior each month. The idea is that the sheer force of all that concentrated positive energy sparks a unity revolution that rises from the ground up and sweeps the nation.
Yet, until that happens, we can leverage the power of The Habits of Unity on a personal level by forming one good habit per month:
January: Help Others
February: You Count
March: Resolve Conflicts
April: Take Care of Our Environment
May: Be Grateful
June: Reach Higher
July: Become Involved
August: Know Who You Are
September: Do Your Best
October: Be Patient and Listen
November: Show a Positive Attitude
December: Celebrate Community, Family, and Friends
Those who’ve tried it say the plan is easy to put into practice. It feels good, so you’ll want to keep doing it. And there’s a ripple effect. As you become more positive, centered, and respectful, others will be drawn to you and your relationships will improve.
“As these ripples expand, they will improve the emotional climate in our country and make it easier to seek common ground, instead of lashing out,” says Parke. “But we can’t sit around waiting for others to take action. Each American must recommit to making our country a welcoming, affirming melting pot—instead of a stewing pot.”
About the Author:
Elaine Parke, MBA, CS, CM, NSA, is the author of The Habits of Unity: 12 Months to a Stronger America…one citizen at a time. For 30 years, her scalable and evidence-driven 12 habits of social unity model have transformed several million community citizens and youth across the USA’s Midwest and in Rwanda, helping them feel more caring and connected to one another. In 1993, her monthly branded and colorful habit-forming model was deemed a “Social Invention” by the London Institute for Social Inventions.
Parke spent 25 years fine-tuning her mass-market media skills in corporate America. Then, in 1987, she redirected her focus to helping people get along better. Her first book, Join the Golden Rule Revolution: Practice One Habit…Each Month of the Year, was published in 2000. She has won many awards and recognitions for her work.
Parke is certified in public speaking, violence prevention, conflict management, and mediation, as well as meditation, and has been a popular speaker in her field of driving health and positive social and civic engagement with managed media strategies. She has been an occasional guest marketing lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and Carnegie Mellon University. To learn more, please visit www.12habits4allofus.org.
About the Book:
The Habits of Unity: 12 Months to a Stronger America…one citizen at a time (Outskirts Press, 2021, ISBN: 978-1-9772-4276-1, $21.95, www.12habits4allofus.org) is available at bookstores nationwide and from major online booksellers.