We are living in some interesting times indeed. It requires no kind of stretch at all to find any number of downer, negative, even alarmist new stories. That’s because, in fact, there are some quite negative things occurring. If you’re at all struggling to cope with what’s happening, there’s a simple formula: focus on the positive.
See, our brains are hardwired through thousands of years of living a hand-to-mouth existence, fighting against predators who, without our over-sized heads and opposable thumbs, frankly, outclassed us in every way, to focus on the negative. It was far more important to spot that saber-tooth tiger stalking us through the bushes than to notice that the bushes had some tasty berries. So we easily and readily take in all the bad things in our environment in order to prepare us to stay alive. It’s a fundamental survival mechanism.
The overwhelming majority of us are not living on the plains where we must spot that tiger. According to the UN, we’re living in a golden age, with less hunger, more education, and longer lives, than ever in all of human history (NOTE: not a perfect world, just a better one). But we don’t feel that way do we? We feel like every day is worse than before because of two fundamental facts. First, we naturally focus on the negative. Second, the people vying for our attention through all the various screens around us, know that a negative headline will get more attention than a positive one. The classic “if it bleeds, it leads” is at play all the time. So we are saturated with negative messages and negative content and our brains, through evolution itself, lap it up. It’s no wonder so many are depressed.
Instead, focus on the positive. Find the good stories around you. Acknowledge the success of your friends and co-workers. Spot as many good and positive things as you possibly can and build a habit of keeping them in mind. There are numerous psychological studies supporting this attitude as a way to keep your brain and your mental health in a better place. Evolution will ensure that you still spot that tiger. It’s on you to see the berries on the bush so that you can come around and pick them tomorrow when the tiger is gone.
I know that people are going to read this and go, pshaw! You’re just a Pollyanna, Grant. However, follow the links. Read what the science says. Listen to this podcast. I may be crazy, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. Take some time. Focus on the positive. You’ll feel better for it. You’ll do better with it.