Do you have that one poisonous friend who seems to THRIVE on delivering bad news? Just like the very first Debbie Downer sketch on SNL (ONLY the first one–you can delete the subsequent ones from your mental file tree). People LOVE giving bad news. They love it. This is because negative information GREATLY empowers the giver and makes them feel important. Why? Because we listen. It affects us. We pay more attention to bad news because it feels more real for some reason. (Also, it’s rude to respond to someone who’s just told you about something terrible with, “…Aaaaaaand?”)
So then what starts to happen? We expect more bad news. When we do that we start to see more bad news. Once we get used to seeing more bad news we begin to actively seek it out. Sunshine is boring to us. You know how younger girls tend to screw the grease-enhanced jerkwads who blow them off rather than the nice guys who show up on time with flowers? That’s how we are with news: the more awful it is, the more we want to get it inside us. And when we build our world view around the idea that we live in this fucked up Matrix of despair, it weighs on us even when we don’t realize it. The response to my recent panic attack post was overwhelming. As I sifted through the comments and emails I received, I felt like I noticed a recurring theme of “I don’t know why but I’ve been getting more panic attacks lately.” Naturally, I have an unsolicited theory: I think the present “Mondo Apocolypto” P.O.V. in our country is largely to blame, and it’s fired into our faces EVERY DAMN DAY by the tragedy whores of the News Media.
WE GET IT. THERE’S AN ECONOMIC CRISIS. WE’RE IN A DEPRESSION. They even went as far as to inform us, “Hey, remember 2007? We didn’t know it then, but that was a Depression too!” just to make sure that any recent memories were also charred in the magma of despondency. WAR, DEATH, NATURAL DISASTERS: The manna of the Media. You think all of that blackness running in the background of our emotional desktop isn’t going to have a profound affect on our mental state? OF COURSE IT IS. Yes, it’s important to be informed about the world, but it’s ALSO important to keep in mind that it’s not all horrifying. NEVER forget that news shows and newspapers are run by companies that survive on ad sales driven by ratings, and the best way to achieve that is to keep you shitting in your Dockers so you’ll tune in. (That part’s actually ok. You should’ve gotten rid of the Dockers in ’99.)
It is therefore entirely your responsibility to make yourself feel better. No one’s going to do it for you. That sucks but sometimes you gottta work for things worth having. That is why it is imperative that you do the following: LOOK FOR GOOD NEWS. I know it’s campy and hokey but I believe it to be vital to your emotional survival. You don’t have to go on some kind of doe-eyed Pollyanna bender; just start out by taking five minutes a day to find something about the world to feel good and/or hopeful about. I Googled “happy” and found happynews.com, a site devoted solely to positive news stories (if you Google “good news” you may accidentally enroll in Bible college). As I tooled around the site, I swear to you I felt better inside–and I’m normally one of those cynical comedian types.
Read good news. Hug a flower. Look at a bunny. Doesn’t matter. Just create a space in your soul for hope. The reality you experience is almost wholly shaped by your perception of it. I’m not saying you have to believe that everything is awesome all of the time, but at least start to open the drapes in your brain and let some light in. Once you do you’ll get addicted to it and you’ll start to see the good in things (a good skill to have). That isn’t New Agey crap, that’s brain science, people! If I said to you, “Hey! Wingtips!” you would start to notice wingtip shoes everywhere and wonder if they were always there or if they coincidentally just started popping up. (I would then ask you why you lived in a 30s gangster movie where wingtips are so plentiful.)
I’d go even further to assert that if the media started reporting that the economy was turning around, people would start to unconsciously make it happen. Tensions would relax and consumer confidence would begin to increase because they would start to look for reasons to do so. I’m not advocating living in denial, but I am saying that there must be SOME good stuff happening. Why can’t we throw some focus on that? It would CERTAINLY help put us back on the right path. Things being as they are, however, that may not happen anytime soon so the onus is on you.
If you try this with some consistency, I guarantee it will ultimately affect you in ways you cannot imagine. It’ll be like pouring smiles on your brain. But be patient! You may not change overnight! A fast-moving plane can’t just flip a bitch–it has to turn into an arc and slowly make its way around to go the other direction. The same is true for your perception. Shape your reality. Don’t be a pawn for the darkness. YOU are in control. Your brain works for you, not the other way around. Find the good news.
P.S. – I heart you.
Image: Chris Hardwick/Nerdist