Is the world really as scary as it seems?

If you listen to the news media for very long, you get the feeling everything is falling apart and everyone is ready to strangle each other. It can leave you with a feeling of fear and despair. You get the impression apocalypse has already come and the only thing left to do is write off the world and call it a day.

But if you unplug, take a drive across the country, and get out into nature, you get an entirely different feeling. The forests are unaffected by news hype. Mountains and valleys care little about the elections and the latest violence to hit the streets. True, what mankind does to nature affects it. But the story mankind tells itself is much scarier than the reality of a quiet trail, or a babbling brook. Just don’t take in some media before you leave. You’ll probably see a story about a man-eating cougar, a rabid bear or a bigfoot sighting.

The news media itself is suffering from downsizing and cutthroat competition. Perhaps the media loves to scare us because the typical news reporter is scared he or she will lose their job next week. Perhaps when you focus on the worse of humanity, you begin to believe your own hype. 

It is so much easier to focus on the worst of humanity. It is so much more difficult, but rewarding to balance it with the good of nature as well as the best of humanity. It is out there. You just have to be intentional and escape the 24 hour news cycle once in a while.

Are you an optimist or pessimist?

Cartoon of an angry girl and a drenched boy

Cartoon of and angry girl and a drenched boy. The boy says, “You may think the glass is  half-empty, but I say it is half-full. At least it was before you dumped it on me.”

Have you ever tried to cheer up someone in a bad mood? Boy, I have! I’ve tried to tell a few jokes, act silly, even encourage them to join along. Usually it goes horribly. In fact, I’ve learned the best way to make a pessimist feel better is to allow them to get you down. They aren’t happy until they make you miserable. Misery loves company, right?

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Do you want to spread a little sunshine to your friends or are you content only when everyone around you shares your gloomy mood?

I like to think I’m an optimist, but I find myself talking doom and gloom more often than I feel comfortable with. It takes more work to be an optimist. The news doesn’t help much and people love a juicy story about a fallen celebrity more than a story about someone walking the straight and narrow.

Yes, I’d like to think I’m an optimist. But If you’re in a deep funk, I don’t think I’ll try to cheer you up. I may bless you, but I’m not going to be your clown. After all, the good book has something to say about this:

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Romans 12:14-16 (NLT)

 

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Cartoon: Promising New Year

Cartoon of a guy with a calendar. He says to a woman, "This year looked so promising, until I realized I was looking at last year's calendar."

 

Cartoon of a guy with a calendar. He says to a woman, “This year looked so promising, until I realized I was looking at last year’s calendar.”

I am ready for a new year, how about you?

How Do You Minimize the Impact of Negative People? | careynieuwhof.com

Carey Nieuwhof has a post on dealing with negative people.

How Do You Minimize the Impact of Negative People? | careynieuwhof.com.

While his focus is on ministry, this applies to business and entrepreneurs as well. I’ve seen firsthand how someone with a bitter, negative attitude can suck the air out of a room.

Carey is right that you have to take measures to minimize the impact of a negative person. Unfortunately, some people are determined remain in the muck. When that happens, make sure they don’t take you down too. Some pessimists just won’t rest until you are just as miserable as they are.

Stop and Live a Little

Cartoon of a boy and a grandfather. The boy says, "It's a beautiful world, Grandpa. You should try living in it."

Last night, I saw the most beautiful sunset. The sky was ablaze with yellows, oranges and reds. As I was driving along, I thought of all the other cars speeding by. I wondered how many commuters noticed the sunset that was so clear before them.

Life has a way of grinding us down, doesn’t it? I don’t know what you’ve been through. It may be stuff I couldn’t comprehend. But I do know this. There is so much beauty that is going on all around us. Sometimes, it is so obvious, yet the cares of this world keep us from seeing it.

That’s why I love working with kids. They see the world with innocent, awe-filled eyes. If you work around them a while, they’ll point out how beautiful the world is. Kids remind us there is an amazing world to be discovered, whether it is in nature, or the urban landscape.

Life may have thrown you some hard problem. But take the time to see the world that is around you. There is always something to be grateful for. Live it up!