Change Our Focus, Change Our World

reporter-852096_1920 pixabayThrough the years, I’ve found that my mood is greatly influenced by what I see and hear. This is especially true when I’m writing. If I have a happy scene to write, I choose an upbeat playlist to listen to – very softly – in order to help get me in the right frame of mind. A sad scene? Yeah, I have a playlist of really depressing songs … and they work. Sometimes so well, I need to listen to an upbeat playlist when I’m finished to pull myself out of the funk I just put myself into. I listen to strong winds, rain, even handball games so I can try to feel what I need my characters to feel.

Why did I just share all of that with you? To offer some proof that our mindsets can be manipulated by whatever we set our focus on.

Don’t believe me? Try a little experiment. Do a Google search for the saddest songs of all time, then listen to them on YouTube or Spotify. And really listen to the words of each one. I’m 99% sure before you’re through half a dozen of them, you’re going to start feeling a little bummed out. Within an hour, you’ll be sorry you crawled out of bed this morning.

Because you’re focused on sad, depressing feelings, it’s going to affect how you’re feeling. It works that way, almost without fail, with all of your other emotions too. If it didn’t, people wouldn’t listen to upbeat songs during a heart pumping workout (or housecleaning), relaxing music during yoga or at bedtime, or romantic music when you’re feeling, well, romantic.

I think headlines and news stories work in much the same way. They’re written to manipulate our emotions. To incite specific feelings in us – joy at good news, sadness at bad news, and anger and hatred at injustice.

Lately, it seems like the media is making a concerted effort to punch the anger and hatred buttons in everyone. They report on the horrors happening in our country and around the world – and then they make sure to rub salt in raw and aching wounds. They work hard to make sure to drive wedges between us because of our differences. Every. Single. Day.

It doesn’t matter whether you believe in God or not, we can all be angels here on earth, people who help to bring about positive changes.

But here’s a thought…

If hate begets hate, and violence begets violence … and like always begets like … what if we just stop playing into the media’s hands? What if we say enough? What if we change our focus?

When the opportunities arise to express our anger, hatred, and hurt, what if we focus on peace, love, and healing actions instead? When differences are in the spotlight, what if we choose to see our similarities? And when we have the chance to say something ugly – either face-to-face or on social media – what would happen if we just let it go? Just clamped our lips together or put the phone down or walked away from our keyboards? What if we go out of our way to seek out stories that show the best of humanity rather than the worst? And what if we shared them to try to counteract all of the bad news we see and hear every day?

Here’s a scene from the movie, Pay It forward. I think it says a lot about how one person can make a difference. And if one can, imagine what might happen if everyone put forth even a little effort.

We can continue to allow the media to incite all of these negative emotions designed to tear down relationships, to tear apart our country – or not. The choice is ours. In the same way I use music to change my feelings, I can use positive words and actions to change the world around me. To show others they matter. To do everything in my power to end the hatred. Maybe if enough of us made the effort, we really could make a difference.

I can try. What about you?

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