Hello again and Happy Friday!
I’ve also been doing a lot of thinking about what direction I want to go with this blog. It would be very easy to just yap about whatever comes to mind, but it might not be that entertaining (or coherent) to read, and it’s really not what I want to accomplish with this. There’s little point in writing if you don’t have a purpose, and I think that my purpose is simply this: I want to share a bit of what I’ve learned in life about cultivating a positive attitude and (the more difficult part) keeping it, and how to live a happy life. I feel very strongly that a lot of our happiness is entirely dependent upon our outlook in life. Simplistic? Maybe. But if there’s a chance that changing your outlook might change your life, why not give it a shot? You’ve got nothing to lose!
Now – in with the good, out with the bad. What do I mean by that? Simple – if you want to begin taking steps toward a positive attitude, you’ve gotta do some weeding. Bring in good (positive) and chuck out the bad (negative). And there’s one area in particular that’s a really good starting point for your positive revolution: “social” media.
Why the quotes? It’s called social media, right?
Yeah, well I put quotes around it because I’m pretty skeptical about the social aspect of it all. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and I guess if you still go that route, Myspace – they’re all social media sites. The problem is, they quite often turn into anti-social media sites. And according to some estimates, we average as much as three hours a day on these sites. So given that our interaction on these sites has such a tendency toward being negative, is it any wonder a lot of us are having issues trying to stay positive?
Now, I’m not advocating quitting social media altogether, mostly because I know it’s impossible for many of us. But I am suggesting you take a good hard look at why and how you use it. It’s easy to say, “Well, I have to stay connected for work” or “I just have a Facebook page to keep up with old friends” or “I want to keep an eye on what my kids are doing”. Take a moment and think about it – why, specifically, are you on Twitter? Or Facebook? Or Instagram? Or Tumblr? Are you using it to further your career? Are you really keeping up with friends? Are you spending your time monitoring your kids’ activities?
Or are you using a “like” or a retweet in place of really socializing? Are you promoting your business or staying connected with business colleagues? Or are you just getting on to bitch about your job or your co-workers? (Side note: be careful with that. Increasingly, employers are using social media posts to penalize employees, and in some cases, people lose their job over careless posting.) Are you really keeping your kids safe? Or is that just an excuse? Do you really have to spend all the time that you’re spending online? Would that time be better spent elsewhere? And would doing something else rather than sifting through your Twitter feed or a mountain of Facebook posts make you happier? I’m betting it would.
Like I said, it may not be possible to go completely off the grid where social media is concerned. But you do have some control over what effect it has on your life. For many years, I was that rabid social justice Facebook friend that everybody dreads (and probably hides from their feed). I posted every article and photo and meme that illustrated my idealogy because I wanted the whole world to know just exactly how I felt about the issues I was passionate about. And even though I absolutely abhor confrontation, I was always ready to get in a deep philosophical debate with anyone that didn’t share my views. Sometimes it devolved into something that resembled two kids at recess trading “yo mama” snaps. And because I knew I was in the right, there was no way I was gonna back down.
Then I started to pay attention to how it made me feel when I got in these stupid arguments. The first thing I realized was that if anyone who didn’t knew me saw what I was saying, they’d think I was a total asshole. The second thing I noticed was that I wasn’t changing anyone’s minds. You either think Pluto is a planet or you don’t. No amount of talking is gonna change your mind! (I’m not going to out myself and tell which side of that argument I was on, but I think the photos speak for themselves.) The other thing I noticed was that it made me feel icky inside. Reading other people’s comments, reading my own, hell even reading the articles that spurred the arguments made me feel so negative and angry and small inside. And that’s when I started to change how I used social media.
I began by “unliking” a LOT of pages. I did a spring cleaning and got rid of all of the news channels, political blogs, activist groups – I just unfriended or deleted all of them. And instead of getting into verbal sparring with people I didn’t agree with on my friends list, I learned to “hide” people. Or if they were someone that didn’t have an active role in my life in the “real world”, I just deleted them. I don’t really need to keep up with someone I barely knew in high school if all they do is post things that make me upset. That’s the perfect illustration of that whole question of it being “social” media or not.
I also actively sought out blogs and sites that were rooted in positivity and happiness. And I have found some great ones. Just check out the links at the end of this post. I stopped commenting on people’s posts if I didn’t have anything positive or helpful to say. That thing we learned as kids about not saying anything if we didn’t have anything nice to say – that still works! And it’s a damn good way to run your life. It used to be common knowledge that talking about politics or religion was a bad idea in polite company. We seem to have forgotten that with the advent of the Internet.
I realize it’s important for people to be informed citizens and to be aware of what’s going on in the world around them. I’m just suggesting that for some of us, a constant barrage of bad news and negativity is not healthy. I’ll be the first to admit that I still spend too much time online, and still sometimes get far too involved in arguments when it’s an issue that I’m passionate about. But I’m trying to choose my battles carefully. And I’m trying to tune out the bad and welcome in the good. And I am a much happier person for it.
Just remember that every little change you make for the better will bring results. And maybe toning down your “social” media presence is a good place to start!
Here are some links to help you bring in the good. Please feel free to comment with other resources that help you stay positive.
Action for Happiness