The world is a scary and upsetting place. The amount of bad news overwhelms any stories that may cheer you up. One gets the feeling we are intent on destroying ourselves. Being in a nonstop political campaign doesn't help since the entire thrust is for one side to declare the other is working to ruin our way of life and is evil personified.
Live long enough and you learn to take most of that with a very large grain of salt. Unless you are convinced there is a grand conspiracy at work, you begin to filter out the most extreme stuff. Frankly, if you intend to have a satisfying retirement (or a satisfying anything) you have to, or your ability to enjoy life will be at risk.
This year, I have taken a few simple steps to eliminate some of the negative clutter in my life. I have developed a filtering system to cut back on the stuff that drives me crazy. If you find yourself dwelling on the bad stuff too much, maybe some of this will work for you.
I have pruned back the list of blogs I read and follow. Too many of them spend too much time ranting about the unfairness of life, the dysfunctional political system, or the need to blame someone for their plight. Filling my inbox and my mind with that drivel every day obviously was going to affect my attitude. One blogger, in particular, has had a tough run of luck and circumstances the past several years. But, the lashing out at everyone and everything was getting to me. This person has more issues than a magazine. When I realized I feared seeing a new post in my blog reader, it was time to stop reading. While what this person wrote about was often true, the vitriolic approach was not contributing to my day.
Other bloggers were a bit less angry, but nevertheless were not leaving me in a good frame of mind. I know things are screwed up and I am every bit as upset as anyone. But, pouring that anger into my head from all sorts of sources wasn't helping. So, I cut out the blogs that hurt rather than helped me.
Regular readers know I canceled cable TV last spring. I wasn't watching enough to justify the cost and the quality of a lot of the programming was dreadful, insulting, and sometimes disgusting. Reality TV shows are often designed to provoke the worst in both the performers and viewers. The news channels have staked out a part of the political turf and allowed no other viewpoint to grow. Prime time TV is either about sex, violence, or sex. By walking away my life was instantly improved. Not only did I gain a few hours a night that was wasted, but my attitude improved. "Must-see TV" became a "Must-not for me."
I have found I am spending more time with people who enrich my life and less time with those who don't. These folks add warm, love, spiritual support, and encouragement when I am with them. They avoid spending time on negative or divisive issues. Even though several of my friends and I are on very different ends of the political spectrum, we care enough about our time together that we don't allow those differences to become a wedge between us. Plus, we agree about so much more than a political issue or a social concern it would be a shame to let the disagreements sour the entire relationship. We choose to be positive with each other.
Lastly, though actually this is most important, I have made a personal promise to myself to be a better companion to my wife, after 35 years we know each other well. But, I am not the most demonstrative person when it involves "romance" stuff. Even though I know my wife craves it, I am stingy with the things that she desires. Being not much brighter than a box of rocks, I have realized that such an attitude bring down two people — her and me. And, that is just stupid. The environment around the house is so much more pleasant if I simply make the effort to give her what she needs. I do draw the line at dancing, but everything else is open for modification. Since I have taken this new tack, the Lowry household is sooo much more enjoyable.
We can't control many things in our life. Coming down with a serious disease is usually nothing we can prevent. Often our employment is in someone else's hands. Having a roof torn off in a big storm is going to happen no matter how much you wish it didn't.
But, you can control some of the things that affect your happiness. To not deal with the things you can to improve your life is, well, just silly. It took me good chunks of this year to figure out the negative triggers in my life that I wanted gone. Then, it took a matter of minutes to come up with a solution. Do you want a more satisfying life? What are you waiting for? The clock is ticking.