Do not suffer before the actual suffering

One of my yoga instructors likes to say, “Do not suffer before the actual suffering.” Meaning, don’t anticipate something bad and suffer in advance.

If you haven’t noticed–hard not to–there is plenty of fear and anxiety generated by this year’s presidential election. The media is doing its part to focus on the most sensationalized and negative aspects of each candidate. The divisiveness among Hillary supporters and Trump supporters is vitriolic and bitter. Even borderline violent and certainly filled with dangerous rhetoric.

At the Dallas police memorial recently George W. Bush said, “Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions.”

This is true for both sides, as each campaign is making the case for how bad the other candidate is. The result is how apocalyptic respective supporters describe the future to be if the other candidate wins. Clearly both candidates have serious character issues. So the election is not about who’s the better leader; it’s about the lesser of two evils.

What a terrible way to decide such an important outcome.

Yet, none of the terrible scenarios being peddled by either camp has come to pass. The end of the world isn’t here. The country hasn’t collapsed. Revolution isn’t ripping the nation apart. Aside from the Civil War, America has not faced such an existential threat–and it will likely not be the case this year. As bad as this election has been, there has been worse. There has been some really bad presidents. There has been horrible Congresses. Even poorly appointed Supreme Court justices. Rarely (maybe never?) there has been a breakdown of all three branches of government at the same time.

Maybe Hillary or Trump will be the worst president in history. Maybe there will be some bad times ahead. However, that’s ahead, not right now. Right now, we can still choose the outcome and decide how to react afterwards–with grace, composure and temperament or with anger, violence and destruction.

Six days until we know for sure the result of this election. Until then, why preempt the apocalypse? Why be upset? Why be contemptuous? Why suffer?

But the choice of president isn’t the only thing that gets decided on November 8. No matter who wins, we individually and collectively could choose how we treat one another afterwards. We could still choose civility over hate. We could still choose hope over suffering.