Paris in Perspective

Around the world, indignation runs high as news reports and social mediaParis below outline the horror of yesterday’s attacks in Paris. Unfortunately, death and destruction are not the only casualties.

Anger can suit us well during times of physical threat. It can drive us to take action to protect self and others, a critical purpose for those rare circumstances when socialized behavior will not save the day. Once the incident has passed, anger loses its main purpose. We can let go of it.

Easier said than done. Many hold on to it, as the morals of basic humanity and wanting to keep from being caught off guard take center stage. This easily becomes destructive to self or others, turning us into secondary casualties of the original incident. It not only eats away at inner peace. Hard feelings and lashing out at others also impairs relationships, the social connectedness that lies at the core of personal resilience.

As we hear about more and more incidents such as the Paris attacks, how do we counteract this unwanted consequence?

There’s one simple thing we can all do to battle the terrorists’ war against the soul.

Today, as you go about usual interactions with others, try this simple gesture: make extrapeople smiling at each other effort for eye contact, and wear a friendly smile as you greet them.

Whether it is a significant other, a coworker, a clerk or cashier, or even someone you regularly pass during your morning stroll, you will be amazed at the glimmer of inner peace that sparkles through. Smiling and friendly eye contact have a physical impact on the body’s workings, in ways that promote good feelings and resilience. Doing so has a similar effect on those we greet. It makes for a “twofer” – the effort to keep anger from damaging ourselves helps those around us, as well.

Don’t let the terrorists win that secondary war: the one against personal resilience.

For more about relationships and resilience, see “Social Connectedness and Health,” offered by the Wilder Institute.

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