By Brian Nadon
One of the keys to happiness is surrounding yourself with positivity. The great thing is that this doesn’t require a huge change. It is done on a small scale. Trying to sprinkle small, positive moments throughout the day is what makes a big difference.
Conversely, I’ve learned that in addition to adding in the small positive moments, it’s important to get rid of the negative moments too. Now we can’t control everything. We can’t control the person that cuts you off on the way to work, we can’t control the rude attitudes of others, we can’t control the way other people act. What we can control is our environment. We can mostly control who we spend our time with. We can control the messages we expose ourselves to each day and we can control our thoughts.
Years ago, I stopped watching the news on TV. I felt like there was just so much negativity and never anything positive being reported. I also felt like somewhere along the way, in the long history of news broadcasts, the facts were lost. Now it seems like we just get a lot of opinions. The “facts” that are reported are often only those that support the reporter’s point of view and those that don’t support that view are completely brushed over. Of course, this is even truer during election season.
When I was a kid, my friend’s family was REALLY into hockey. I mean REALLY INTO IT. His dad especially. When their team was playing it was crazy over there. The family would jump up and down, yell at the TV, and go absolutely nuts. It was during those family hockey games that I learned all the bad words (somewhat) out there! I mean, my family would get excited from time to time watching our favorite team, but that was peanuts compared to my friend’s household.
I’m telling you this story because during election season, I am a lot like my friend’s dad is during football season. OK, not quite as bad, but I’m definitely out of character. I’m usually pretty laid-back and a go-with-the-flow kind of person. But watching the news or a political debate is a different story. I raise my voice at the TV and talk to the candidates during the debate as if they can hear me, and don’t get me started on all of those opinion-type shows where they all promote their own agendas. The news during this season is just completely negative and the political commercials these days are unreal with all of their mud-slinging and childish attacks. So I stopped. I just turned off the TV and stopped watching. And I can tell you that ignorance is bliss!
Now I’m not totally out of the loop, I do check on what’s happening in the world and read some news articles online, but it’s much more intentional. And it’s only once in a while. I can choose the topics I want to read about and ignore the ones that are too negative. And I’m happier.
Once in awhile, my friend will have the news on first thing in the morning and that little bit of negativity is a terrible way to start your day. What you do first thing in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day and when you set your brain up for negativity, your day is affected. Negative messages in your environment make it easier to get lost in your own negative thinking. And negative thinking leads to all sorts of problems like slowing down your brain’s ability to process information, interferes with personal relationships, and increases depression. It’s easy to have a negative mindset, I think many of us have negative thoughts about ourselves multiple times per day without even realizing it. That is why it is so important to change our thought patterns and do what we can to exclude negativity from our day. There will still be some bad stuff that comes along and definitely a lot that is out of your control. But it’s important to make sure that the things we can control are positive.
So the challenge for today is to pay attention to your thoughts and feelings. Try to recognize things in your environment that is creating a negative mood for you. For me, one thing is the news but there are other things as well. See if there are any steps that you can take to change the messages you receive each day, change your environment, or just recognize when you are in negative self-talk mode and see if you can remove that. Those negative things are taking the place of positive things in your life and it’s important to remove those in order to replace them with something better. Let me know what you discover!