Every day as I scroll through social media posts I’m bombarded by stories of disrespect, disagreement, and hate. It seems like more and more these type of stories take priority over happier news. Many people like to blame the media for only featuring the negative stories. However, I think each and every one of us have this natural tendency.
It’s easy to see the bad in the world. Seeing the best actually requires much more effort.
We are wired to feel strongly about things that upset or offend us. I mean think about it. How many times do you see positive reviews left on business pages? Rarely does a person stop to leave a “thank you” or a “way to go,” but when they are unhappy they will absolutely take the time to leave a negative review.
With the recent news of Hurricane Harvey wreaking havoc on many communities, it is easy to be overwhelmed with the sadness and cruelty of the whole situation. The pictures being shared online are devastating. At first I was so heartbroken and upset that this had happened. When I challenged myself to see the situation differently, I was amazed. Pictures of strangers helping strangers, volunteers performing heroic acts, and groups of people immediately setting up fundraisers for victims began to inspire me with so much hope for our world.
This is the person I want to be. The person who looks at suffering, grief, and turmoil and sees the light shining through. I don’t want to waste my precious days filled with worry and hurt.
If you’re like me and would like to focus on the good, there are a few quick ways to get started today. First, consider choosing only one news outlet to follow online. This will eliminate seeing the same negative stories over and over as you scroll through posts. Next, choose a “just for fun” page to follow. Choose one that only features funny memes or other uplifting content. Instead of commenting on a negative post, try liking, commenting, or sharing one positive post each day. This way you’ll be doing your part to spread the good vibes and not the bad.
Apply the same concept in your daily life too. Start noticing and commenting on your child’s (friend’s, co-workers’s, spouse’s) good behavior and after a while, that is what you will primarily be noticing. If you are always nagging and pointing out flaws and shortcomings in those around you, inevitably that is what you will see the most of. You have to retrain your brain to see the positive. It’s not easy task, but I promise it is oh so worth it.
In my classroom, my students keep a kindness notebook. When they notice an act of kindness they write it down. Each afternoon before we dismiss for the day the kids share out the good that they found in the world that day. I have tried to apply this simple concept in my personal life too. I mentally note random acts of kindness and it allows me to see the positive intent in those around me.
I’m not sure who said this first, but I love the quote “what you focus on, you get more of.” Join me in focusing on the good in the world. You’ll be amazed at how much you will find.