This weekend, I sat down with some family and talked about life. We had one of those deep conversations that lasted for hours; touching on everything from religion, politics, science, metaphysics, etc.. Then, my cousin threw a curve-ball at me that really scaled back my entire outlook of life.
He painted a picture of how small we are compared to how massive the rest of the world is. This video will help you visualize just how deep it hit me.
After watching the video, I was humbled. I looked at every little thing I’d been stressing about in a completely different light. I didn’t like how negative I’d let myself become in life. So at that moment, I knew it was time for a change in perspective.
But, in order to grow, we first have to learn what got us there in the first place. How could anyone get stuck in this “glass half empty” paradigm of life?
After some digging, I found the culprit: mass media!
Yes, the media, e.g. news outlets, social media, etc., contributed to my negativity bias. Think about it…
The news damaged me…
I grew up in Chicago, in a household of regular news-watchers. My mom got into this habit of stopping everything, just to watch “her news,” e.g., my favorite TV shows, dinner, entire conversations… EVERYTHING.
Imagine tuning in at a young age; story after story, I heard things like, “13 year old girl, shot in her own bedroom while sleeping” or, “man takes out the trash and gets hit by stray bullet.” And, on a national scale, “Al Qaeda strikes again. Suicide bomber on bus… hundreds dead…” Every night, my mom and I took this in; piecing together a view of the world through the horrific images/messages the media chose to display.
The effects of such negative news manifested when we were out in public. Anytime we went to the store, she’d say, “don’t leave your valuables on the car seat, I don’t want my windows getting broken into” even if we were parked in one of the nicest areas in Illinois, like Woodfield Mall, or some other wealthy area.
How come my parents seemed overly paranoid about bad things happening to us at any given time?
Steven Pinker, an experimental psychologist and cognitive scientist, explains how “people that watch the news heavily can become “mis-calibrated.”” He says that they worry more about crime, despite falling crime rates. All of this makes sense when you realize that the news was on almost 24/7 at home. All of this worry, turned me into a person that EXPECTED and prepared for the worst.
According to TIME Magazine, negative news can cause acute stress, anxiety, PTSD, and other changes in mood, which “exacerbates the viewer’s own personal worries; even when they’re not directly relevant to the news stories being broadcast.
I learned that this happens purely out of survival instincts. Psychology Today says that our brains are wired to detect danger to “keep us out of harm’s way.” So in an effort to stay informed, we seek out the news; and what generally sticks with us the most, is the negativity. However, the adverse effect it has on our mental health is undeniable.
This really hit home for me.
When I started watching the news on my own (especially during the last election and anytime thereafter), I truly started to believe that the world was getting worse and worse.
This way of living gave me anxiety. So, when I finally put it all into perspective, I knew that it was time for a change.
Change in perspective
I had to rewire my brain to focus on the positives in each day, instead of the negatives. So I did some outstanding Google work, and came across these 3 tips on how to change your perspective of life to be more positive:
- Why wait for Thanksgiving to express gratitude?
Positivity attracts positivity, so gratitude is important in boosting a positive attitude. Everyday you wake up or go to sleep, ask yourself, “What are 3 things I’m thankful for this morning/evening?” This’ll keep you in tune with the good.
- Distance yourself from anything toxic in your life, e.g., people, situations, etc.
This part is so important that I mentioned it in a previous post about things that stop you from succeeding. When you distance bad energy, you’ll make space for good energy to flow freely.
- Just be present.
Most of the time, we’re thinking about things that happened yesterday or things we need to do later, and before we know it, it’s the end of the day! Take a moment or two out of every day to enjoy what’s right in front of you. You can even set a timer if your schedule is too busy to appreciate 60 seconds out of your day. Constantly working to be in each moment would leave us with much more satisfying days.
A change in perspective, can change your life