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Sometimes freaking out is a good thing. It moves us to action. If you approached everything with slow and deliberate thought, you’d probably be dead by now. There is a good reason we jump at an unexpected noise, or something we catch out of the corner of our eye. It very literally kept us from being ambushed by a saber tooth tiger. Our brains are simply wired that way.

But, and it’s a very big but, freaking out does not always work to our advantage. Like putting out a small kitchen fire. Maybe because you put a plate with a paper towel on it too close to the gas burner. Not that I would know anything about that. If you freak out, the fire gets bigger. And then maybe your teenage son comes in, sees your freak out, and calmly snuffs the fire. Another scenario I know nothing about. Just trying to give you an example.

The person who accidentally set the fire in that strictly hypothetical situation freaked out to the point of inaction. Instead of fighting, or fleeing, that person, although normally a very calm and rational person, froze. Just stood there staring like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming truck.

The same thing can happen when we spend most of our time ingesting all the bad news that is in our faces. And there is plenty to freak out about. The not-so-clandestine plan to insert theology into our government, climate change fueled super storms, this whole pandemic thing. There is definitely enough stuff to freak out about.

Don’t let freak out lead to freeze

If we spend all of our time agonizing over what sucks and what is going wrong, we’re not in a great place to do anything about it. But even if there isn’t anything we can do, dwelling on the stuff we can’t change only pollutes the quality of our own lives and the lives of the ones we love.

Progress and effective activism, however small or large, comes from a place of calm. When we look at the problems we face from a grounded place, we are more likely to find ways to make them better. The issues before us now are huge and can be overwhelming, but they are not unsolvable. Even small actions can make a difference.

But even better, taking even little steps can make you feel better. Rather than just standing there and watching the fire get bigger as panic seizes your common sense.

As a species, we’ve always found a way forward. I believe as messed up as some things are, we will continue on that path. So when you feel your blood pressure rising and that sour ball of anxiety bubble up into the back of your throat, pull your face away from your phone.

Remember that you only have one life and look for the good things around you. Open your eyes and I promise you’ll find them.

I'm a former adult entertainer and author of Dirty Money: Memoirs of a Stripper and Expose Yourself: How to Take Risks Question Everything and Find Yourself- Humor and Insights from my life as a Stripper....