If you were anywhere on social media at the end of 2016, you probably saw a lot of people saying how much they were ready for the year to be over. There was a lot of 2016 negativity floating around — so much so that I started to avoid some of my social media channels.
Well, it’s continued into the new year.
Even though we’re halfway through 2017, news outlets and pretty much all of my social media channels are still rife with pessimism.
This negativity is really challenging for me. I’m naturally an optimist who likes to look for the possibility for good in every situation. For me, to focus too much on the negative takes away from thinking about everything as a learning experience. It also makes it easier for me to forget the good (however small) in every situation.
While I certainly do not want to discount current political and social difficulties — for many people this is an incredibly challenging time — I also think we need to remember that with the bad comes the good.
To see the good, however — especially in difficult times — we need to be looking for it. We need to continue to make room for it.
For example, this past year has been a time of intentional growth, creativity, and discovery for me:
- I continued to settle into a new job and a new home after a cross country move in August 2015
- I published my second book and started writing my third
- I launched two podcasts
- I started a weekly newsletter
- I supported my partner through a surgery and recovery period
- I formed an LLC for my side business
- I successfully pitched a new book series to my publisher
All of these things were a mixture of goodness and difficulty. I was challenged in ways that I hadn’t predicted and I learned lessons that I didn’t know I needed.
I don’t want those positive areas of my life to be overshadowed by negative things that are happening around me. Negativity bias is a powerful thing.
Even if 2017 continues to be a difficult year, it’s important to recognize the good that’s embedded all around us. Indeed, the author of this article on negativity bias in The New York Times argues that “The more you’re able to move your attention to what makes you feel good, the more capacity you’ll have to manage whatever was making you feel bad in the first place.”
Here are some reflective questions that might help:
- What parts of this year have been areas of growth for you?
- What have you accomplished so far this year? (Both small and large accomplishments should be counted here.)
- What are some of your favorite moments of the year so far?
- What are you looking forward to in the second half of the year?
We can acknowledge difficult times while also celebrating the good, the growth, and the positive changes in our lives. Indeed, this celebration may be what keeps us going when the world around us seems to be moving backward instead of forward.
We need to be intentional about not letting the bad eclipse the good in our lives.
To think on:
- What positive things have happened for you in 2017 that you want to remember?
- What are your favorite moments of the year so far?