“There’s a sunrise and a sunset every day and you can choose to be there for it. You can put yourself in the way of beauty.” – Cheryl Strayed

I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot recently. To me, the act of putting yourself in the way of beauty means to actively choose people, things and experiences that lift you up, that bring goodness and happiness to your life, and to avoid the people, things and experiences that do not. It makes more sense to focus my thoughts and actions on what I love and what I want out of life, not only for myself but for others, than it does to dwell on things and people that upset me and make me feel bad.

The recent awful events in the world seem to have brought out so much fear and anger and has created such a divide, particularly on social media. While I applaud people who try to argue their positions, at the same time it seems pointless. This is especially true when debating with someone who’s shared thoughts that are xenophobic, racist, uninformed or all of the above. These beliefs are deeply ingrained and aren’t likely to change.

Instead, I simply put distance there and avoid or ignore them. I unfollow or unfriend the people on social media who support xenophobic, racist and uninformed points of view. Why waste the energy on anger? There’s so much ugliness in these views, so much negativity, hatred and cruelty. At most, I feel bad for them that they’ve let hate poison them.

If you don’t like something you read, if something irritates you, you can just try recognizing that we all have opinions and we don’t have to agree, and simply move along and don’t let it bother you. You can’t change other people and you can’t make demands as to what they do or don’t share, but you can call upon your emotional intelligence and choose how you react to it.

Putting yourself in the way of beauty also means, to me, that you can direct light toward others by showing kindness and understanding and just being a compassionate, ethical, empathetic person, not because of some ultimate reward, but because it’s simply the right thing to do. It also means viewing the world around you with gratitude, and believing it’s a place where amazing things can — and do — happen.

Put yourself in the way of beauty. What does this mean to you? I’d love to hear it.

This holiday season, my family and I will be making donations to the International Rescue Committee’s educational programs for girls in conflict zones. More information. The International Rescue Committee is a global humanitarian organization that delivers lifesaving care to people fleeing conflict and natural disaster. To donate to the IRC in support of their other efforts in assisting refugees, click here. My niece Christina, one of my favorite people on earth, worked with the IRC in San Diego and she’s now serving in the Peace Corps in West Africa. If that’s not beautiful, I don’t know what is.