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Over the last few years (and understandably enough), there has been a fresh wave of cynicism online and irl. I have seen more people claiming to be depressed, suicidal, and the like over the last few years than at any other time in my life. Obviously, I knew depressed and suicidal people before, as well as the occasional outright pessimist who can never be positive about anything, but since covid-19 started, it's been one wave after another.
I went through a period in my life several years ago when I lived in Oklahoma where I was the kind of person I am referring to now. I was a drunkard, and I was taking pills that I shouldn't have been taking. To make a long story short, I spent several years hanging out with the wrong people and making the wrong decisions. Later on, the very people I thought were close friends would move on to steal things from me, and I finally cut off all contact with them.
I quit all the stupid things I was doing. I kicked my pill habit, and I cut way down on drinking. I still have the occasional beer or whiskey, but it's once every few months compared to seeking a buzz every single day.
During those years, I can't imagine I was too much fun to be around. I found negativity in everything. You could have shown me a picture of a beautiful blue sky, and I could point out the one small cloud off in the distance. You could show me a picture of a cute puppy, and I'd tell you that eventually that cute puppy is going to grow old and die. I probably took the joy out of most conversations.
It can be hard to find joy when all around you are people constantly talking about dark and depressing stuff. Sure, there are bad things always happening in the world, but there are plenty of good things happening, as well. You just won't hear about them as often, because positive stories don't drive as much clicks and engagement as stories about bad things do.
Quitting doing the unhealthy habits wasn't the only thing I began doing to get myself thinking more positively again. I started doing a number of things that greatly helped me, and continue to help me to this day when it comes to keeping my mind free of the perpetual negativity that seems to cloud so many folks' heads these today:
We live in an increasingly online and connected world, and it is easier now than ever before to participate in discourse with people from all over the world about a number of issues. It is important to find balance, however - the internet (and the world as a whole) is filled with negative people who have their own issues to sort through. You can choose to make a more positive change for yourself, though. Try to surround yourself with those who make you at ease, who you feel comfortable around, and who encourage and lift you up instead of constantly dragging you into the mud with them.
Also, there's power in stepping away from the screens every now and then - what's the phrase?
Go touch grass!
This week I am reading Ghost in the Wires by Kevin Mitnick.