The Coffee Shop Tour to discover what we want
Debilyn Molineaux serves as the catalyst for the American Future project to help everyday Americans discover and believe in a future that will be "worth it" to work together for the sake of our nation.
Do you know what you want for your future? Often people spend most of their attention on what they don’t want, leaving little room for thinking about their own future. Alternatively, many folks spend time imagining their past, with longing for that “better” or “easier” time. All this thinking and imagining about what we don’t want or about our past impacts our current mental health; not in a good way.
As we (the everyday people) have arrived at this moment of multi-crises, everyone is feeling the impact. The information we feed our brain is as critical to good health as the food we feed our body. The information fed into our brains daily includes:
- Trauma and cruelty witnessed via news reports and social media
- Obsession about a certain former president
- Fractured relationships over dystopian options presented by conflict profiteers
- Social media feeds fueled by outrage
All of this information listed above is received in our lizard/survival brain -- that part of ourselves that is charged with ongoing survival. When in survival mode, rational thinking is not possible. We see everything in black and white, right and wrong. These impulses are good for physical survival; and lead to symptoms of chronic illness and ongoing stress when we stay in survival mode too long. The only way to engage in critical thinking is to be vigilant about what information we allow ourselves to be exposed to - and discern when we are being influenced to think we are in survival mode, but are not.
Here are a few things you can do for better mental health:
- Read news instead of watching videos.
- Let the legal system handle the former president. Stay open-minded.
- Reach out to friends and family and tell them you miss them. Make plans together. Agree to NOT talk about politics for a while.
- Spend little to no time on social media -- at the very least, curate your content feed to things that help you feel connected to others.
Over the next couple of months, I’ll be interviewing people in coffee shops across the United States. In preparation, I’ve interviewed about a dozen friends to explore the best way to start a conversation about our future. Here are a few things I’ve learned already -- and it’s good news.
Common themes emerged in these interviews.
First is the deep longing for connection with those nearby. It took different forms; close-knit neighbors raising kids with family nearby, an intentional community or a retirement setting.
Second was a connection to nature and access to more space. This took the form of living in a small town, in the suburbs or on a family farm.
The third emergent theme was the ability to control one’s life. Several of my friends are retired and in the forefront of their minds was consideration of their ability to make decisions for themselves into the future. Younger friends expressed concerns about economics as being helpful or unhelpful in making life-changing decisions.
What will emerge from my upcoming national tour? Stay tuned.