I mentioned in my last blog post that I’m back in school working on my Ph.D. This means that tests and grades have become part of my daily existence. All my perfectionist tendencies have kicked in (I’m working on them though), and when I get an 18/20 on a quiz, instead of focusing on the fact that I got 18 correct, I focus on the 2 questions I got wrong. Can you relate? Maybe not to tests and grades but, perhaps to my focusing on what’s wrong instead of what’s right.
It seems like our natural tendency as humans is to notice what’s wrong instead of what’s right, to focus on all the bad instead of the good. Especially in today’s world, with our fear-based media looking for ratings, it seems like we’re surrounded with all that is bad, wrong, and what we need to fear. There is much we cannot control in life, and there is much we can. We cannot control the bad things that happen in the world, and I am not suggesting that these things be ignored; however, I am suggesting that you choose what you seek out and put your focus upon.
For example, if I open up my social media news feed with the intent of finding things and people to piss me off, guaranteed I will find it. When I pick up the phone to answer a call from someone who may not always elicit the best feelings from me, what am I looking for? Am I looking to have a productive compassionate conversation? Or, am I looking to be pissed off? Either way, I will find it. Why? Because you will always find what you’re seeking – good or bad. It’s out there and it’s everywhere. The bad and negative may be more prevalent for the reasons I noted above, but there is just as much good to be found. We just need to seek it out. Here’s how:
Clean Up Your Social Media – and Your Attitude
I’m going to start with your attitude because this is where it really starts. If you approach anything with a crappy attitude, no matter how positive the situation, you’ll find the crap in it. You can clean up your social media feed of all negative people and posts; yet, if you’re still expecting to find things to piss you off, you’ll find those things among all the goodness. You’ll find reasons to criticize the positive posts and people because you’re feeling bad. Clean up your approach, your thoughts, your energy, and your attitude, and you’ll be more likely to see the good amongst the bad.
Choose Your Battles
There are many national and global things to be distressed about, and as much as you might want to help solve all these problems, you cannot. Choose the ones that are most meaningful to you. Find a way you can serve and assist in the areas that touch your heart the deepest, and then make those your primary focus. The world is made up of as many different people as there are problems. That’s why I choose animal rescue as one area to serve and assist, and my friend chooses racial equality. It doesn’t mean that one is more or less important than the other. I just know that I will serve best in the area that speaks most deeply to me. And, you will serve in an area that speaks to your heart. Your capacity is limited, so as much as you might want to serve and help in all areas of concern, you cannot. Be realistic. Choose your battles and give them your all.
Look for The Positive
Amongst the suffering there are always blessings. It takes effort to find them; however, they are there. In the midst of people who choose to abandon and abuse their pets are countless volunteers who work tirelessly to save them and rehabilitate them. Amongst much of the controversy we see across our country and the world is the human spirit that survives, thrives, and is willing to assist those in need. The blessings are always there. We need to look for them and call them out, even in the most difficult situations.
As with the grades and tests that are now part of my daily life, I have to train myself to remain focused on what’s good instead of the natural tendency to look for what’s wrong. It doesn’t mean I ignore the critical feedback I receive from professors or incorrect answers on quizzes, it means I find the learning in it and refocus my energy on improvement instead of a bad grade.
It’s the same with everyday life. What are you focused on? The lessons and blessings or what’s wrong and pissing you off? You will find whatever it is you seek. I say seek the positive. We need more goodness in our lives, so let’s try to focus on that and spread the joy around a bit more.