Search for more Everyday Power
Growing up, my parents didn’t put the news on TV. Not in an over-the-top protective way, I wasn’t sheltered from the outside world or anything, and I actually feel it was as much for them as me. But, we didn’t start or end our days with TV news, which I think we can agree is not the most uplifting show on the air.
It wasn’t as hard to avoid then as it is now. Today things are different, with streaming news 24/7 across all mediums. It’s hard to stay optimistic with so many negative stories and events consistently thrown in our face.
Here are 4 ways to maintain your optimism in a world seemingly focused on the negative.
How to be more optimistic in a world of a negativity
Tune Out What You Can
Just because there are 24 hour news channels and endless ways to stay updated, doesn’t mean you have to watch and read it all. Be picky about what you watch and read. Watch the news channel/feed you feel serves you best, and tune out the others. On social media, unfollow sources that only post negative-focused or sensationalized stories. Personally, I change the channel when animal cruelty commercials come on, and unfollow feeds that only post abused pets. I’m not acting as if this doesn’t exist, I am well aware of the problem, and have a rescue myself, however seeing this news doesn’t enable me to adopt more animals. It only saddens me more that despite my beliefs and actions, this is such a prevalent problem.
If you’re only reading and watching stories about terrible events going on in the world and your community, it’s hard to see the good around you, yet easy to feel you’re surrounded by negativity. You can be informed without being overwhelmed.
Limit Your Worry
Being optimistic is not synonymous with being naive. There are things going on in the world and locally that are upsetting, and I’m not suggesting you ignore all negative stories or events. However, thinking and worrying about these things constantly is not going to change them and can be harmful for your health by increasing your anxiety and stress levels.
If you find yourself preoccupied with worry about what’s happening in the world – or even what could happen – it can help to schedule time to worry. This may sound silly, but if left unconfined, worry can become a constant in your mind.
Set aside 15 minutes each day to worry. Set a timer and think of all the stories and things that upset you, writing them down or voice recording them are also options. When your 15 minutes are up, take 5-10 deep breaths and move on. When you find yourself starting to fret, recognize the through and stop. Occupy yourself in whatever task you are doing and think, “I can worry about this during worry time.” This tactic won’t come easy at first, but will guard your from allowing worry and negativity to overtake your entire day.
Focus on Action
When we are overwhelmed with the number and size of negative issues facing us, we feel helpless which is anything but optimistic. True, we cannot single-handedly stop issues like hunger, violence, or global warming, but taking a small action will help you feel more optimistic about the future. Your small step could be as simple as reading more or talking to experts in that field about what’s being done. A step could be volunteering locally with an organization supporting change. Start by picking what issue bothers you most or is most prevalent in your life and decide on one small step.
Be the Positive
You have every news outlet at your command, so take advantage! Earlier I recommended tuning out some of the negative news in your newsfeed, now I’m recommending the opposite. Begin following and seeking out positive news stories. Stories of empowerment and optimism are plentiful, and the more you follow the more you will see. Set the precedent yourself and post the good things you see happening in your community.
My neighborhood has a community watch page on Facebook that, I must admit, was getting quite grim. I didn’t regularly check it due to the high number of suspicious activity, break-in, and mugging stories that were shared. While people still post these events – it’s the purpose of the page after all – I’ve notice more neighbors chiming in with small positive actions – a returned set of keys, a found dog, a quick police response – that give me a more optimistic view of where I call home.
“Optimism is a happiness magnet. If you stay positive, good things and good people will be drawn to you.” – Mary Lou Retton
Narrow down the negative, limit your worrying, take a small step towards change, be the positive in your world, and you’ll start seeing silver linings instead of rain clouds.