Point for Discussion:
We are bombarded daily with bad news, chaos in government, and challenges in our daily lives. If we allow ourselves to get caught up in the negativity, it could bury us. What if, instead, we focus on the things we can control that impact our daily lives?
Our Points of View
Many years ago, it seemed like nothing in my life was going as I really wanted. No matter how hard I tried, things generally seemed to go the wrong way. I wasn’t paying as much attention to it as I should have been until one of my friends said “if it weren’t for bad luck, you’d have no luck at all”. I guess I wasn’t the only one who noticed that things weren’t always moving forward in a positive way.
About that time, my cousin, who was 40 at the time, went into the hospital for “routine” surgery. As the surgery began, it was discovered that she had end stage cancer. She never woke up and was gone two weeks later. That was eye opening for me.
I needed to change my outlook and begin to embrace all of the good that life can be. I needed to tune out all the noise and focus on living the life I was supposed to be living. From that point forward I began to look at life differently and from a far more positive direction.
Step one was to tune out the noise. It really doesn’t matter what is going on in Washington if it does not directly impact my day to day life. I know it may impact me at some point, and I will deal with it then. Until then, I can’t control it so it really doesn’t matter right now.
Step two was to change my perspective on things I can control. I needed to take control of situations in order to get the outcome I thought I wanted. Well that didn’t always happen, but there are no guarantees in life, that’s for sure. But for the most part, my life improved a lot. The funny thing is that I didn’t always know what was best for me.
The third step was to remain open to new things, new people and new experiences. The key was to choose what I wanted and what would bring me joy.
How did all of this work out? It’s been amazing! I am a finance person/CPA by trade. I was working in a large male dominated manufacturing company at the time. My boss walked into my office one day and asked me if I would be interested in managing the Purchasing and Transportation department. This was totally out of my wheelhouse, but I said yes anyway. For the first couple of months, I continued to ask myself why I thought it was a good idea to get out of my comfort zone. I gained confidence as time went on and, in the end, excelled at this new opportunity. Had it not been offered, it would never have occurred to me to pursue it.
And my personal life has been no different. For many years I thought I would meet a career-oriented, professional individual and live a nice middle class life. I am not sure why I was thinking this, but I was limiting myself. My husband is the kindest, most generous man I know, and I can’t imagine being with anyone else. So again, not the original plan but better than I could have ever imagined. An open mind and an open heart can lead to wonderful things.
In my small part of the world, I try very hard to control those things that can impact my mood day to day. The person that needs to be happiest in my small part of the world is ME. Do I always know what’s best for me? Nope. But I wouldn’t change anything at this point. By tuning out the noise (can’t control it anyway!) I can focus on what works best for me and what it takes for me to be happy. And as long as I remain open, who knows what could happen?!
I agree with Lynn that we control our own perspective of life as it happens. A wise person once said “we can’t always control what happens, but we can control how we react to it.” I would add to this statement “…and how we see or hear it.” If I were to interview a group of people individually, I would likely hear a variety of perspectives in reaction to the same story or situation, since each person observes situations differently based on their experiences and outlook.
It’s easier to get caught up in the negativity, and when we are positive, or see the silver lining in a situation, we could be perceived as naïve – it’s happened to me :-). However, I would much prefer to see the positive, look for the hope, and try to make the hope happen. It’s not being naïve at all. It’s about making a choice to see the good sometime rather than always seeing the bad (which I do quite a bit, too. I’m still learning!). No doubt, the negative will happen on its own.
I see us as having three options when we are faced with a situation that we hear about that is full of negativity (we just have to watch the first 10-15 minutes of most newscasts to feel that humanity and the world are on the verge of collapse):
- Do nothing – it happened – block out the noise as Lynn suggests – we can control ourselves, but not what happened or the actions of others
- Be negative – reiterate the story and perpetuate the bad – “woe is us” – not recommended
- Be positive – look for the good that someone did in the situation, and hope good wins out
If the situation is something or someone that is in your inner circle, and something you can help to control, learn from or improve, think about what you can do to help that person or situation in a positive way, and think of a way to pay it forward.
Our Question for You
How do you tune out the noise to focus on yourself and those things that you can control?