I used to love logging on to Facebook and seeing what my friends were up to. I still enjoy that aspect, but lately so many more posts have been negative, depressing, and aggressive that it’s been overwhelming.
I have spent years spinning in a negative headspace. It was detrimental to my health – emotional and physical. It took a lot of work for me to escape from that frame of mind, and I have no intention of going back. By no means do I want to put on blinders to what is happening around the world — it is too serious to ignore. However, while I do want to stay informed, I also want to make sure that my daily actions have some sort of meaningful, positive impact. I do not want to feel so oppressed by the negativity that I either wind up feeling too defeated to do anything about it or too emotional to create something productive. I don’t know how to solve the world’s problems, but I do know how to work towards making small changes in my own life that will hopefully have a positive impact on someone else along the way.
This is my plan:
- I will not go online as soon as I wake up. Instead, I will use that time positively – either to get some extra rest, to get up and meditate, to reach out to a friend, or even just start my day.
- If I do read articles online, I will not read the comments. They are too judgmental and harsh — from all sides of the issue.
- I will not wait to express my compassion, appreciation, and love for others. In the past year I lost too many friends unexpectedly. It had nothing to do with age. It had nothing to do with a preexisting medical condition. They were just gone. Following their deaths were beautiful, incredibly moving gestures, memorials, speeches … and I vowed to myself that I would not wait until someone died to express my love for them. No, I will tell them NOW, so that I don’t have to wonder whether or not they knew they were loved and appreciated.
- I will surround myself with positivity — I’ve ben decluttering since I moved to this new house. However, I have held on to some tokens and momentos. Instead of putting them away in a box I’ve decided to put them on a cork board in my office. This way my happy memories don’t wait to be dusted off some time in the future. They’re right in front of me. Sometimes it’s a bit bittersweet – as I see pictures of my mom, my best friend etc. and I miss them so much, but in they end, they always make me smile. Surrounding myself with positivity also has to do with being around positive people. It’s not that people shouldn’t complain or talk candidly about their emotions or opinions. It’s just that some people predominantly focus on the negative – and it can get draining, particularly if they’re never really that interested in finding a way to get out of that negative space.
- I will avoid being negative. A lot of times I have resisted posting a negative tweet about a horrendous movie I saw or something that I heard. I stopped myself because I thought – what will this accomplish? Why do I need to share criticism? I fall back to the old adage ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Some people might argue and say that each person has a right to express his/her opinion. Absolutely you do! I am just choosing not to say something that might hurt someone’s sentiments for no reason. This does not mean I will not speak up with something wrong is being done. It just means that I’ll be mindful of what I say.
- I will smile often. I’ve always found that smiles are contagious — it’s a good thing to spread 🙂
- I will avoid media hype. The media’s task is to grab your attention with catchy headlines and photos that make you shake your head in wonder/dismay. It’s easy to get caught up in media hype (whether it’s entertainment or the news). The important thing to remember is that the snippets we are given to see are just that – snippets.
- I will be thankful – I already feel overwhelmed with gratitude that I have fresh, clean water to drink, a roof over my head, food to eat, and heating in my house. I seriously feel so lucky to have these basic luxuries which so many in my country (Bangladesh) do not have. Being home was definitely a humbling experience – it always is. When I was in Bangladesh last month I fell ill. I didn’t eat for 3 days and I woke up one night ‘starving’. All I could think about was how hungry I was … and then immediately I stopped. I almost felt ashamed. I knew at that moment in time, right outside my window, there were hundreds of people who were actually starving. I promised myself I would never use that word to describe my own feelings of hunger again.
There are lots of things you can do to make yourself feel better and happy – listen to good music, hang out with friends who make you laugh, meditate, pray. For me, I’m going to focus on the 8 points I mentioned above, particularly numbers 1, 2, & 3!
There are lots of terrible things happening out there in the world. However, let’s not forget that there are lots of wonderful things happening out there as well — and that’s something we can all add to just a little bit (or a lot) at a time.