Set the State
So what does it mean to set the state? It means to commit to being the person you want to be regardless of the response or situation.
Do you have that friend who carries with them a positive and upbeat energy? You see it in their smile and the way they interact with others. It's not that they don't have bad days, they do. But even when they do, they exude calm confidence and don't aim to bring you down with them.
I'm reminded of a line from Bob Dylan's song, It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) in which Dylan sings:
While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society's pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole that he's in
This is a challenging time for everyone. And amidst challenges we must decide how we want to show up for others. Do we want to be a positive force? Or do we want to let the state of others dictate how we feel and behave?
I just went for a run on the warmest day in Wisconsin in at least five months. I felt grateful for the sun, its warmth, and the abilities of my body. I couldn't help but smile and wave to everyone I saw on my run. Though I lean towards positivity and connection naturally, I set out with the specific intention to wave and smile to as many people as possible. Regardless of the unease, uncertainty, or tension with which my waves were met, I was committed to my state and setting the state of my environment.
So what does it mean to set the state? It means to commit to being the person you want to be regardless of the response or situation. No matter the reaction I was met with, I was going to smile and wave. And when you commit, something special can happen, the state of those around you can lift.
This doesn't mean we have to always be that upbeat and energetic person. But it does beg the question, what state do you want to set? To get out of the abstract, pick one planned connection you have with another person in the coming week. Maybe it's a phone call with a family member, a Zoom call with a group of friends, or an email interaction with someone in customer support.
With what state does the best version of yourself show up to that interaction with? Then fully commit to showing up that way no matter the response. Set the state to be the change.