I want some good vibes. And less bad vibes.
Yup, I decided that I’d had enough negativity coming at me from all directions.
From now on it is good vibes only. I want to focus and seek out the positive. It’s out there, I just have to look for it since what we look for we will generally find.
I can find either positive or negative things by looking for them. So no more seeking out bad news. And I need to stop the inflow of negativity coming in the form of email, news, social media and even people.
Not that I am putting my head in the sand or anything. I don’t need constant reminders that we are in a pandemic. I know it! My internal threat level has been on “orange” for the last 6 weeks or so and it’s time to bring the anxiety level down, and give my hi-jacked amygdala a few weeks or months off. It is time to focus on the positive.
Focus on the Positive
Focusing on the positive is in my control. If I focus on the positive, that is what I will likely find.
When we focus on the positive, we can change our mental outlook. We become more optimistic, more creative and more innovative. Creativity and fear cannot co-exist in our brains. We can shift our energy and be more hopeful.
I am not suggesting being reckless. We can be responsible and focus on the positive while still staying safe and protecting others including our front line workers in health care and public safety, grocery store workers, delivery people and others who are at risk.
The Good Vibes Are Out There
Since I’ve begun focusing on the positive, I have found positive vibes in many places. Isn’t that always the case though, if we look for something, positive or negative, we generally find it?
Here is what I have found so far as I look around for what is positive and motivating:
- Free Time – Yes, more free time. More time for naps. More time for walks. More time for deep, critical thinking. More time for laughter and connection.
- Relationships – Relationships are a great place to invest the additional time we may have. This past month I’ve reconnected with old friends, got better acquainted with colleagues I didn’t know well, and had video calls with various family members around the world.
- Saying Yes – The 2008 movie Yes Man with Jim Carrey is a wonderful lesson in the opportunities that can happen if you say yes, rather than no. Last month I said yes to be part of a panel discussion with PMI South Florida. I had a wonderful time and met some new colleagues. Normally I would say no.
- Tune in to Something Positive – There are lots of opportunities to tune in to the positive. Here are just a few that I found over the last month.
- Some Good News Channel – John Krasinski of The Office Fame (aka Jim Halpert) created a YouTube channel called Some Good news. This was my original inspiration to begin looking for positive vibes and good news everywhere. In his first episode he connects with Steve Carrell for some reminiscing about the old days of The Office tv series.
- Bob Lefsetz Happy Song Playlist – Bob Lefsetz is an American music industry analyst and critic. He is a regular blogger on various music related topics though sometimes he strays into politics. I like the songs he put together for the “Happy Song Playlist” and just as important, the thinking behind why he did it. I listen to them on Apple Music.
- Matt Wright’s 4/26 Message from Willow Creek Church – Matt Wright was the worship leader of my local church several years ago. I liked his recent message at Willow Creek called “Standing Strong in a Worried World”.
- Chris D’Elia No Pain on Netflix – Chris D’Elia is a comedian who I’ve been following the last few years. I had the chance to see him live in Chicago last December. His “No Pain” show isn’t exactly good news but it is funny. He made me laugh and I imagine it will also make you laugh, unless you are from Boulder.
- Trailer Park Boys on Netflix – OK so let me say that most of you will probably find this TV show offensive. I know it has way too many F bombs for me. But if I want to connect with my 19 year-old son who is back at home since his college went remote, I sit down and watch it. Though the show includes many potentially serious adult themes, you will quickly recognize that the show is anything but serious except trying to make you laugh. And I am told that no Canadians were injured during the making of this show.
- Leader Biographies – I’ve been on a kick recently reading biographies. In the last 4 months I read Ben Franklin’s, Harry Trumans and I am halfway through Winston Churchill’s. It is not all positive of course. But much of it is inspiring. These three leaders all faced challenges. In some cases, the suffered failures that some felt would crush them. Truman failed financially. Churchill was voted out of the government and ostracized before being welcomed back as the war time prime minister during WWII. All leaders face challenges and they either rise to the occasion and become famous or they don’t rise, and they fade into obscurity.
- Step Brothers – Though not at all grounded in reality, the Step Brothers movie is certainly entertaining. Will Ferrel is a comic genius and John C Reilly is his perfect foil. It’s a great diversion and I think you will laugh out loud. Similarly, the series Arrested Development and Schitts Creek both keep things light and entertaining and unlike Step Bros, they are binge-able.
- Some Things You Can Do – In addition to the above, here is a short list of things you can do to increase the positivity in your life.
- Send a Thank You Note or Affirmation – One way to create positive vibes for yourself is to do a kindness for someone else. Sending an unexpected thank you or affirmation to someone is good karma. These are best hand-written but they could also be sent via email. For bonus points, don’t tell anyone you did it. It may be tough – pay attention to our inner urge to seek credit or get external validation. Resist. Enough said.
- Pay it Forward – Our family friends dropped off a care package to help us celebrate a birthday a few weeks back and it was really touching. It inspired us to pay it forward with someone else.
- Connect with Positive & Uplifting People – You know how there are some people who make you feel better when you talk to them. That make you laugh or feel good about yourself and the world? Well, make it a point to connect with those people.
- Start or Join a New Tradition – Over 140,000 people have now joined in the fun of dressing in a costume to take out the trash. Called Bin Isolation Outing, they’ve started their own facebook page. You can join them or start your own crazy tradition.
- Take It In – I don’t know about you but I tend to take things for granted. Simple things like sunshine or a walk in nature were always available and so I didn’t value them. Now with my world upside down, I recognize the value of letting the sun fall on my face. Or walking in the forest preserve near my house. To get the most value, I eliminate screens and earphones and let my senses take in the world around me.
No Mas to the Negative
In addition to looking for the positive, try reducing or eliminating your intake of negativity. Below are some ideas for concrete actions you can take to reduce or eliminate your intake of negative messages:
- Start Email filtering for COVID-19 – Why does everyone that has my email address need to write me to tell me what they are doing about COVID-19? I don’t care! Every bank, Dr. office, airline, University, website hosting company and hair salon that has my email has written me. I’ve also heard from lawyers I haven’t used in years, insurance companies I no longer use, and politicians I didn’t vote for. So going forward if I see “COVID-19” in your subject line, your email goes into the trash. I may just automate this with a rule in Outlook.
- More email filtering “remote training”, “online training” – I get it, we are all working from home now. That doesn’t mean I am going to sign up for your new online training course. Hey so you now offer remote training options? Great, so does everyone else! Stop bombarding me, I just don’t care. Besides, right now you couldn’t get me to attend another Zoom meeting if you put a gun to my head or kidnapped my family. I don’t want to have to wake up early to shower and put on a shirt with a collar to spend 4 half-days being “on” in front of my computer.
- More email filtering “Zoom” – See previous item.
- More email filtering “tips for remote working” – Hey, is it just me or are people making this out to be hard? It isn’t hard, we will figure it out. It’s just like working in an office but now we do it from home with online tools. We got this.
- More email filtering “meetup” and “virtual conference” – An unanticipated benefit (?) of the immediate shift to remote working is that participating in Meetups and conferences is no longer bound by time and travel limitations. So I can attend any meeting or conference pretty much anywhere at any time. And I am getting lots of invitations. See previous comments about kidnapping my family.
- Remove News from my Diet – I haven’t entirely eliminated news from my diet but I have cut back. A lot. Earlier on I was compulsively checking death tolls across the globe, or checking in on the stock market and my stock holdings multiple times per day. Why? It’s not like it has any impact on my day to day life. Thankfully I am safe. We are sheltering at home. I don’t intend to buy or sell stocks any time soon. So why would I keep checking the news or the stocks? Why do I keep looking outside myself for some kind of news? This puts the locus of control outside my self.
(Actually I do know why I keep checking news and the stocks – I am in survival mode. Think of Maslow’s need hierarchy. All this negative news has pushed us down to the lowest level or the “physiological level”. We are focused on basic survival. However, the way out is not to look out at the world to see if it is safe; the answer is to look inside and recognize we’ve always been safe.)
- Eliminate Social Media – For similar reasons, I have cut way way back on social media. Those quick sugar hits are not nourishing and only lead to me wanting more. I don’t recall ever getting a valid business deal from social media. In fact, I’ve not found anything on social media that changed my life in any meaningful way. So why do I keep checking it as if I will hit the jackpot? I’d be better off buying lottery tickets.
- Create a People to Avoid List – Just like there are people who tend to make me feel better when I connect with them, there are others that don’t inspire me. There are some that drain me, tick me off or just annoy me. I’ve created a list and I try to avoid them. There are victims and blamers. There are narcissists and self-centered people that just take.
I am pretty sure things are going to be different in the future. I don’t expect a return to where we were. I just want to take charge of my attitude and choose to focus on the positive. If I look for it I will certainly find it.