Over the past year and a half we’ve seen 700,000 Americans die from COVID, faced a bitterly controversial election and endured massive social upheaval. It’s a lot of pain and suffering. And yet, we seem to be numb to it all. Headlines and images that might have once shocked us barely elicit a “Hmmm, that’s too bad.”

Elaine Parke said we’re experiencing a type of compassion fatigue on a national scale – and that needs to change.

“I get that caring about others can be painful,” said Parke, author of “The Habits of Unity: 12 Months to a Stronger America…one citizen at a time.”

“But caring is what makes us human. And it’s in our humanity that we’ll find the powerful sense of connection that fuels us to join with others to solve the very real problems we face.”

The only way things will get better is for each of us to get intentional about becoming the kind of person we want to be. Rather than assuming others will take action, we need to hold ourselves accountable and work on developing thoughts and practices that benefit us, our communities and our country.

That’s why Parke created the framework laid out in her book: She wants us to reconnect with our humanity and reunify America around the ideals of cooperation, connection and civility. It’s a system meant to help us push the reset button on our attitudes and alleviate that numb, exhausted feeling that keeps us from acting to make the world better.

Parke thinks of “The Habits of Unity” as a powerful form of “Mental Nutrition.”

“We’ve all heard that we are what we eat, but I say we are the messages we consistently consume,” Parke said. “We’re personalizing the negative, almost apocalyptic news we hear 24/7. No wonder we’ve become depressed, stressed and disengaged. No wonder we feel helpless. It’s time we moved to a mental diet that nourishes and encourages.”

With her framework for uplifting ourselves, boosting our mental health, and practicing unity, Parke hopes to get everyone focused on the same branded behavior each month. The idea is that the sheer force of all that concentrated positive energy sparks a unity revolution that rises from the ground up and sweeps the nation.

The book also offers 365 “one-magic-minute-a-day” motivationals to form one good habit per month:

• January: Help Others

• February: You Count

• March: Resolve Conflicts

• April: Take Care of Our Environment

• May: Be Grateful

• June: Reach Higher

• July: Become Involved

• August: Know Who You Are

• September: Do Your Best

• October: Be Patient and Listen

• November: Show a Positive Attitude

• December: Celebrate Community, Family, and Friends

“Big, impactful change happens because ordinary people do what they can, when they can,” Parke said. “We can post an affirming message on social media instead of doom scrolling or worse, publicly complaining. We can donate a few canned goods instead of just driving by the food pantry. We can call a friend who is struggling and encourage them.

“If enough of us make these seemingly small but truly powerful changes,” she said, “together we can shift momentum away from disengagement, and toward lifting one another up.”

Want to learn more?

Elaine Parke, author of “The Habits of Unity: 12 Months to a Stronger America…one citizen at a time” (Outskirts Press, 2021, ISBN: 978-1-9772-4276-1, $21.95, www.12habits4allofus.org).Parke spent 25 years fine-tuning her mass-market media skills in corporate America. Then, in 1987, she redirected her focus to helping people get along better. Her first book, “Join the Golden Rule Revolution: Practice One Habit…Each Month of the Year,” was published in 2000.

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