A lot of people live in a world full of negativity – and they seem right at home, they even actively seek it out and spread it any chance they get. Clearly, you’re not really loving it, seeing as you’re reading this article, and that’s awesome. The world definitely could be a nicer place and we hope it will be for you, or for whomever you’re reading this article for. Here are a few tips on what you can do to change your viewpoint and put the old “happy go lucky” phrase to the test:
- Stop watching and/or reading news.
- Expect the best of people. But:
- Learn to recognize the doom-gloom drummers.
- Switch perspectives.
- Look at the world and enjoy the sun.
That might seem out of place – we should be informed about the world around us and not lose touch, right? There are important events going on that influence our lives and we should keep ourselves up to date, otherwise we’re just a bunch of hicks who don’t see beyond their village gates. Right?
Well, true – to a degree. There is a definite value in knowing what’s going on around the world. And the news do tell us some of it. But that’s the point – they seldom show us the whole picture. Just an angle that tends to make us glued to the screen (which screen, incidentally, shows a lot of advertisement as well) – Conflict. Fear. Threat. There is a (conflict, war, crisis, insert threat here) imminent and you better watch this space so you don’t miss anything and are well prepared when it hits! And when it doesn’t hit, well there’s always the next one. And again, rarely portrayed fully so you can’t get to the bottom of it.
And that’s something that you really don’t need in your life. Do you really need to know about the train that got derailed in Pakistan, with 180 dead, complete with vivid pictures? Do you need to know this or that news station’s take on whatever is the rage in politics these days? Yes, it does influence us in our daily lives – but that’s not what you get shown. The media usually don’t tell you what happened – they tell you what to think about it. The reporters need to sell their advertisement, that is the whole and entire reason for the existence of news channels, newspapers and magazines – they sell. Otherwise they wouldn’t survive. And the best-selling tool is conflict. If you want the world to start looking like a little bit friendlier place, give it two weeks without news. See how it goes for you.
If you do manage to find a relativizing routine, you’ll be a much calmer individual. We tend to get so absorbed into the things we’re currently involved in that they fill our horizon entirely, our worries grow out of proportion, the potential harm seems so terrible, the consequences scream! All through our lives, we keep hearing of “ruined lives”, “ruined futures”, “all hopes dashed”… These are all generalities. Life is a pretty hard thing to ruin, you will find, it has a lot more elasticity than we give it credit for. The thing is to look at events from that perspective.
Try and look at life 10 years ahead. Try and think of something that seemed insurmountable to you 10, 15 years ago. If it was something very intimidating then, chances are, you do that sort of thing in your sleep today, or you at least see that you needn’t have worried about it so much, because even if things did get pear-shaped, you still pulled through, victorious or not – and maybe even learned something in the process, perhaps?
Sometimes going through a big disappointment or loss gives you a certain freedom – you really can do anything you want with your life, as long as you observe the boundaries of the lives and freedoms of others, you are the architect of your future, it’s all smokes and mirrors that tell you otherwise. And it never is too late.
Expect the Best of People
It really is the weirdest thing ever. If you go to an office expecting to encounter jerks and uncooperative cretins – that’s most likely what you’ll get. Seriously – this has been tried and tested (very unscientifically, yet with rather clear results), the bitter people who have very low opinion of others do tend to have rotten luck with people. If you go about your day, not necessarily super happy about everything you have to do, but simply expecting to encounter other human beings, and if you start the proceedings with a genuine smile, then 90% of the cases, that’s what you’ll get in return.
Doom and Gloom
Let’s not generalize. Who doesn’t, from time to time, enjoy a good bit of gossip or the odd news of misfortune that befell our not-so-dear neighbor. But these people have almost made it their profession to share whatever horrible things they can dig up. And if they can’t dig up any, they’ll cheerfully turn whatever situation they heard about into a catastrophe. Not that much difference between them and certain news channels, really, except it gets personal. They love to spread dark hints about bad things coming – firings being discussed, the cheerful new boss you like the look of – “Oh yeah? Well I’ve heard… no, I’d better not tell you. I shouldn’t gossip. You be the judge.” Plus with these people you can more or less rely on them gossiping not just about others to you, but about you to others. Most likely, they are also going to do their best to shoot you down in case things start going good for you. Perhaps not directly, perhaps they’ll just sigh around and look like a wounded-yet-selflessly-well-wishing-martyr in hopes you start feeling like a bastard for doing well when they’re not.
If you have somebody around you that seems to drown you in stories of how bad they have it, that make you feel pity for them, who never seem to get better no matter how many chances they get or how much you try and help them, forget all feelings of sympathy and ditch them as quickly as you can. They are poison. They make your work slow. They keep you from succeeding and being happy. They don’t even want help, they just want the attention. Just as those nasty ones that warn you about most people around you and only have “your best interests at heart”.
You don’t have to come at them directly and tell them to get lost. There’s no need to argue. Just try and extricate yourself from their claws as much as you can. Your life will be much nicer.
Try Putting Yourself in Other People’s Shoes
We’re not necessarily fans of people saying things like “Oh get over yourself, others would thank heavens to be in your position!” (Right Aunt Mathilda, we’re not starving to death and our homes haven’t been bombarded, but that doesn’t mean our problems aren’t real, thank you very much.) What we mean here is more of an exercise in letting go a little. Having a problem tends to stick one quite firmly where he is. Try looking at your negative situation through the eyes of somebody else – from the viewpoint of your mother-in-law; of your next-door neighbor; of your boss; of the person who is perhaps currently your opponent in that situation; of the person walking the dog outside your window right now; of the pilot of the airplane that is flying over your head. And try imagining what situation they might be in and how you would solve it were you in their position. Hopefully, this will give you a more fluid and relaxed approach and let you take a step back.
Enjoy the Sun
Just go out, take a walk (even if it isn’t sunny) and consciously look at things and people around you, every day. It’s healthy for the body and for the soul. We are often so absorbed in our worries that we barely register the outside world. But we need to pull ourselves out and really look around. You will see it will do wonders. You can either walk around the block or just go for a walk and look around yourself. Do this for at least two weeks, together with the no news etc., and let us know back how it went. And we hope you will do very, very well, whatever path you walk.
Photo: Courtesy of paprikaphoto.com