More and more, I worry about society as a whole, especially American society. We’re bombarded daily with horrible news. 24-hour news stations will do that to us. They need to have something to report, rather than filter out the best 30-60 minutes like they did a generation ago. So with all this information coming at us at a faster rate than ever, most of it negative, what is a person to do in order to maintain a positive outlook? I’d say it’s simple, but it’s not. It’s a constant struggle to make sure you are focusing on the good things around you. Even though I’ve stopped watching the news, it creeps in from other sources.
We see bad over good
The problem with all the negativity is that once you’ve allowed it into your life, that’s all you see. If you’re angry, you’re angry at everyone. You have to recognize that you’re like this and try to find something good to focus on. The problem is, the good is typically something we completely overlook when we’re in this mode of operation. We notice the guy tailgating us. We notice the slow driver in the left lane. But the guy who’s minding his own business, in the right lane, just driving normally? We don’t even give him a nod as we fly by him, ourselves way over the legal speed limit.
I have to focus to see the other drivers waving at me. It’s a Texas thing, and not as common as it was 20 years ago, but it still happens, if I’m looking for it. That’s the key, looking for it. Because once you find it, you tell yourself, “See? The world isn’t full of assholes, there are good people out there.” And you start to calm down.
Take a break from all the noise
And if you’re being overwhelmed by the negativity, you have to turn it off. Literally. You have to take a break from the news for a little while. Just go dark. You’ll be amazed at how stable your emotions are when you don’t have someone telling you how horrible things are daily. The challenge is to find the good. You have to really look. It is out there. There are people doing good things, helping others, being polite, letting the faster ones through. You just have to spot them and acknowledge to yourself that there are good people, and therefore, good, in the world today.
Once you’ve done this, it gets easier. You will start to see patterns, the pattern of what you used to see, and the pattern of good. Remember, though, it’s always harder to see good because it’s obscured by the over-the-top actions of the bad. We see bad behavior everywhere, every day. I’m about to go to the grocery store at 5:30 AM because of this. I just don’t want to deal with crowds anymore at this stage in my life. At 5:30 in the morning, the world still moves at a slower pace. Even those who have to be up, enjoy the quiet before the storm, and even supermarket workers are still friendly at 5:30 AM.
Your family takes the brunt
Or, you can go ahead and keep getting annoyed by the same old shitty behavior, getting upset and wanting to tell someone off, but never doing so. This builds up in your life, and the pressure has to release at some point. Your kids, your dog, your husband, your wife, someone close to you normally receives the full brunt of our extremes. We’re at our most raw around those closest to us. If anyone gets harmed by our outbreaks, it’s them.
Maybe you’re not doing this for yourself. Maybe you do this for the other people in your life. I know I do. I focus on good to keep myself calm. After doing it for a little while, it becomes much easier. I don’t even drive aggressive anymore. I just let all the assholes go by. They can fight each other, I’m not engaging with them. I can’t change them, all I can do is shake my head and hope that my behavior inspires someone else.
I know I’m writing in circles here, revising the same idea over and over, but I feel it’s important to get across the facets of negativity. I think we’re in a real crisis right now in America. We’re not only having a tough time of it inside our shores but now we’re being told we’re all evil because of the leader of our country. I just heard someone telling me they had to defend the US while they were recently in the UK. Shocking because those people did the exact same thing with Brexit.
This is all a reaction to something bigger and beyond our control
So we need to be focusing on what’s wrong in the States and try to fix it or try to focus less on what caused the change. Anger and hatred made it come to pass. A focus on lawlessness and thuggery over law and order made it come to pass. A leader who wanted to be cool and go on late night TV made it come to pass. That’s not what we need right now. From a leadership standpoint, I’m not sure we didn’t get exactly what we deserve.
We’re looking at the ramifications of polarizing a nation between red and blue, this or that, right or wrong. We’re not binary creatures, our politics shouldn’t be, either.
So we turn and focus on the good. Do charity. Spend time with positive friends. Laugh, go see live music, read uplifting stories, draw, write, play, etc. Enjoy yourself and those around you. Be positive instead of being part of the problem. Say “Hi” to each other in the elevator. Wave to a neighbor. Hold open a door. Help someone who needs help. Pay it forward. Karma.
Not because it will make you feel better, but because it’s the right thing to do. It’s the behavior that made us let’s make it back. We were a nation of Christian fundamentalists. These days, you can keep the fundamentalist part, but we need to be more Christian to each other. We need to be more Buddhist to each other. We need to be anything that promotes peace over violence, kindness over segregation, friendly over cold. We need to focus on the good and ignore the rest.
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