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A week ago, there was another unfortunate mass-shooting that reminds us of the fragility of life.

Now, it’s a myth that we’re the only species that kills its own. Nature is full of examples of that. The difference is that one animal will kill another of its kind for very specific survival reasons — food, territory, or competition over a mate. Humans will murder for those same reasons, but there are two more that are uniquely human motives.

Humans will commit murder over ideas, and will sometimes do it to get something they want. I believe that these two motives come from an excess of our uniquely human dimension: our intellectual approach to the world. The ironic end result is that killing for these reasons dehumanizes us the most.

It’s possible to rehabilitate an aggressive dog, but is it possible to rehabilitate an entire species that frequently shows aggression? I’d like to think so, but both have to be done the same way: One person at a time, rehabilitating themselves. Each of us individually can add up to great things and make great changes for the better.

But before you can change the world, you have to change yourself, and it involves the same combination of Exercise, Discipline, and Affection that I recommend for balancing our dogs. Fortunately, when you’re working on yourself, you don’t have to follow that formula in the order I just gave it, but in the order that works for you.

The reason that dogs need Exercise, Discipline, and Affection in that order is because this is how their psychology operates. Exercise is necessary to engage their body and reduce excess energy. Once this has brought their mind to a calm state, then it’s possible to focus them on the discipline part, which is learning the rules that you’d like them to follow. When that’s all done, then it’s time to reward your dog’s success with affection.

As humans, we’re a little more complicated. Some of us may need to exercise first so that we can then focus. Others may need to find the discipline necessary before they can begin to work out. Some may need to learn how to give themselves self-care and affection before they can begin the other two steps, while others may need discipline and exercise in order to learn how to love themselves.

But, like dogs, we still need all three elements working together in order to find balance, and finding balance is even more important in a world that seems out of joint.

Once we’ve found that balance, then we’ve connected with Nature and reconnected with our own humanity, and can begin the process of healing wounds and finding solutions that work for everyone. Those solutions begin with empathy and kindness; with learning to work together instead of to tear apart.

I mentioned at the beginning that it’s a myth that we’re the only species that kills its own kind, but I would love to turn the fact that we do kill our own kind into a myth one day. Fortunately, time and history have shown that it has been getting better, and we’re still much safer from each other than we were even only a hundred years ago. We just hear about events like last week’s sooner and more often.

We can make such incidents non-existent, but we have to find the keys and the will to do it within ourselves. The good news is that the more balanced each of us becomes, the more balanced the world will become — and isn’t that the planet we’d all like to spend the rest of our lives on?

Stay calm, and change the world!

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