Time for a diet?

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It had been a few years since I’d seen my mother’s husband. As I listened to him rant about the dreadful economy, politics, and needing to prepare for the worst, he declared that he needed a gun for protection in these “terrible times.” Less than a mile away (in New Jersey), when I visited with my father, his entire reality couldn’t have been more different. He was relaxed, secure, grateful and pretty darn happy.

Why are their realities so profoundly different? There are many reasons, but one major factor really stood out to me during that visit. In the past few years, my stepfather has been fixated on listening to the fear mongering radio stations. He scours the internet for information that supports this way of thinking, which only serves to reinforce it. He’s nearly obsessed with it. When I suggested to him that he go on a positivity diet by limiting those forms of media, he looked shocked. I tried to challenge him to it (hoping the competition might spark him!), but he admitted that he just couldn’t do it.

Now I’m not suggesting that anyone goes around being completely uninformed with respect to current events. The positivity diet I propose is more about keeping negative media and human interactions to a minimum and not getting lost in the stories that can drag us down into heavy fear and negativity.

Consider what information and influences you are presently ingesting. Think about everything: what you watch on TV (including the news), read in magazines or on the internet, listen to on the radio, what the people with whom you spend time talk about, and even what you read in your Facebook newsfeed. Is the majority of it positive and inspiring? Or is it gossipy, judgmental and negative?

You have a choice as to what you take in. On Facebook, for example, you can choose not to have someone’s negative status updates show up in your newsfeed. On the other hand, maybe you have someone inspiring who posts things that cheer you up every day.

I know several people like that. One of my favourites is an old high school friend named Dan Manson. He lives in the very same town as my cheerful father and my fearful ‘the-end-is-near’ stepdad. Dan posts status updates that fill my heart with happiness and hopefulness. Here are just a few of his inspiring thoughts of the day:

“There will always be people telling you that you can’t do something. Your job is to ignore those people & prove to them it can be done.”

“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”

“Go where you are celebrated NOT tolerated. If they can’t see the real value of you, it’s time for a new start. Enjoy your day.”

“There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad, and focus on the good. So, love the people who treat you right. Ignore the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is part of LIFE. Getting back up is LIVING ! LIVE* LAUGH* LOVE”

I look forward to these every day! Yay Dan!

So here’s a diet you can try: see if you can go for one week without watching the news, without reading all the gore and gossipy stuff, without listening to negative people. Sure, go ahead and catch up on the headlines if you must, but just try it for a week and notice if your stress level changes. Notice if your happiness level improves. Then go back to how it was. Again, notice if you feel a change in your mood.

I have a feeling you’ll be mighty surprised. There are so many positive things around that can replace all the negative; see if you can nourish yourself with more and more of this. You may find that even your digestion improves!

Cheers, Stephanie

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