Over the last twenty years, we have seen a remarkable shift in the number of negative stories and situations highlighted in the news, on the radio, in newsprint, or on the internet. It can really take a toll on your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and overall well being.
When I was growing up, I do not recall ever being concerned for my safety; we played outside almost every day without a care in the world… after all, we were in the yard of our family home, how could this ever be an unsafe place? Now we have to worry about child predators, and many times children are not allowed to play outside unsupervised.
When I was growing up, we traveled and took vacations but would have never worried about a terrorist hijacking our airplane or a carjacker stealing our car.
When I was growing up, we took part in local, regional, and nationally organized events but never worried about a bomb going off, a vehicle intentionally hitting a crowd of people or a gunman opening fire at a restaurant, shopping mall, movie theater or concert venue.
Unfortunately, the world we live in has changed a great deal from what many of us recall “when we were growing up.” With technology and information so readily available, we are flooded with news that primarily focuses on all the negative and sadness in the world. I bet you could count on one hand the number of positive things you see highlighted in the media each day or possibly each week. Hearing about all of the negative creates ongoing panic and worry, causing additional stress and anxiety for many of us.
Many people are quick to judge or place blame for all of the negativity we see, and although the judging and blaming may seem justified, they may not be quite as quick to step up and “be the change” they would like to see, or they believe will make a difference.
If each of us acted on what we believe would make a difference, eventually, more and more people will do the same or possibly join in your efforts. Positivity is something you have to focus on even if you feel the world around you is in a state of despair.
There are many ways to promote positivity and “be the change.” Some examples are provided below:
- Try to limit the amount of negativity in your life:
- Limit how much TV you watch, radio you listen to, or time spent surfing the internet. Consider reading headlines vs. full stories, so you feel you are still up to date on worldwide happenings but spare yourself from all of the details. Outcome = Positive.
- Limit your interaction with negative people. Depending on your profession or work environment, this may not always be feasible during the workday. However, you can control who you interact with outside of work… stay away from those who focus on doom and gloom or create a depressing atmosphere OR better yet, be as joyful as you can when around this person and see how you can make their day better! We never know what situations or worries people around us are carrying with them each day, week, month, or year. Outcome = Positive.
- Listen to music, meditate, or pray:
- Music can be soothing. Regardless of the music genre, you prefer, don’t be afraid to sing or dance! You may be surprised at how uplifting it can be and how much fun you may have doing it. Outcome = Positive.
- Maybe you prefer to sit quietly by yourself to meditate and reflect on your day as a whole… deep breathing and focusing on your inner self may help keep anxiety and stress at bay. Outcome = Positive.
- Take quiet time for “just you” where you can sit back, collect your thoughts, and pray for whatever intentions you have each day. This is a great way to unload all of your worries. Outcome = Positive.
- Be consciously aware of the beauty around you:
- Take time each day to observe things around you that we sometimes take for granted. Whether it’s listening to a bird sing, absorbing the beautiful rays of sunlight, listening to the rain pitter-patter on your windows, watching the leaves fall from the trees, seeing deer leap through your backyard or enjoying the aroma of fresh banana bread baking in the oven… take all of the goodness in… it may comfort you and give you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. Outcome = Positive.
- Be grateful and kind:
- Find something each day to be grateful for… this should be very easy. Be grateful for waking up and being able to get out of bed. Be grateful for those in your life who have been blessed with good health. Be grateful for your children who give you a purpose that no one else can fulfill. There are many things to be grateful for, and many of them are right under your nose. Outcome = Positive.
- Take the time to express gratitude to those around you. If someone holds the door open for you or pays you a compliment, thank them for their kindness. Outcome = Positive
- If you go to the Aldi store to get groceries, stick a quarter in the front cart at each of the cart corrals… this may help brighten someone else’s day, and it’s cheap… $1.50 or maybe $2.00 at most. This may inspire others to do the same! Outcome = Positive.
- If someone does something kind or helpful for you, pay it forward to someone else for a double-dose of positivity! Keep the cycle of kindness going… it is critical for making the world a better place. Outcome = Positive.
- Disconnect from technology for some time each day. Allow yourself some “tech-free” time. Technology has a way of taking a tight grip on us, but we need to regain control and allow ourselves to focus on what is truly important and makes us happy. Outcome = Positive.
- You all have heard, “laughter is the best medicine.” How often do you find yourself laughing? It can instantly make you feel better and brighten your day. Find something to laugh about… it can’t be that hard! Outcome = Positive.
I have to tell you a short story about how I turned a “sticky situation” into one of laughter! One morning as my family was going through our “get ready for school” routine, I was making oatmeal for my oldest son. He decided to eat in his bedroom as he finished getting ready for school.
On the way into his bedroom, he stubbed his toe on the door, which in turn startled him, and… the bowl of oatmeal went flying in the air. He hollered down the hallway saying, “Mom, you are never going to believe what just happened.”
I raced down to his room only to find oatmeal dripping down the walls (as high as the door frame), and clumps of oatmeal spattered all across his carpet. I couldn’t believe my eyes … for a moment I could feel my blood pressure rise. I took a deep breath and told myself this is not the end of the world.
I very calmly got a rag to scrub down the walls while contemplating how I was going to clean the carpet without squishing the oatmeal into the carpet even more. A bright idea came to mind… I decided to call the dog down to my son’s bedroom, hoping and praying she would be an oatmeal fan! She very happily helped “clean the carpet”! We laughed about it for the rest of the day and still laugh about it now every time it comes to mind!
Moral of the story – don’t get angry or upset when something goes wrong, take a deep breath and think about how you can make the best of the situation. Outcome = Positive.
- Be mindful of your actions:
- Watch your words… try to think before you speak. This is very hard to do sometimes, and we are all guilty of saying things we don’t mean. Try to count to ten before responding to something that you are upset about or don’t agree with. It can really help you choose your words wisely and not regret something you said or how you made someone feel. Outcome = Positive.
- Get involved:
- Make a difference. Find something you are passionate about and research ways to get involved whether it is helping with the PTO organization at your child’s school, volunteering to coach, organizing an awareness or educational event in your community, volunteering through your church, taking part in a food drive, organizing a team to run or walk for cancer awareness, diabetes, heart disease, alzheimer’s, etc. You may be pleasantly surprised by how much you may enjoy it once you make the move. Outcome = Positive
. . .
Stay Focused On The Positive…
and “Be The Change”
Photo by Ty Williams on Unsplash