Do you ever feel like our world is going to heck in a hand basket?
Are you discouraged by current events and the downward spiral of civility?
Does it seem like nobody cares anymore?
You might be suffering from indecent exposure.
What we watch on TV, the discussions we engage in online, and who we spend time with all influence our worldview, casting it in either a positive or negative light. If we are exposed to negativity, that negativity will influence us.
Let’s start with the so-called “news.” No matter what side of the political aisle you are on and which cable news show you prefer, watching those programs is no longer about staying informed. Both sides are pushing an agenda specifically designed to rile you up and get you angry (so you’ll be influenced to keep watching.)
Spend too much time on social media and it’s not hard to fall into a tsunami of hateful comments and poisonous vitriol. And it’s not just politics. I’m a Cubs fan, and sometimes the online hangouts are so polluted with toxic commentary from so-called fans of our own team that I have to pull myself away before my day is completely ruined.
The good news is that we can turn the tide, and it starts by choosing what we expose ourselves to.
I had the privilege of giving a TEDx talk last weekend, and with it came the honor of sharing the stage with twelve other amazing people, bravely standing up to shine their light with the world.
I often hear about the shootings in Chicago, but I’d never heard the story of Benny Lee, former gang leader and death row inmate who has transformed his life and is working hard to make sure other young men don’t make the same mistakes he did.
I was inspired by a woman who talked about the power of confidence and how it helped her get into (and graduate with flying colors from) a prestigious law school, even when all the odds were stacked against her.
A friend of mine thoughtfully reminded us that sometimes the opposite of a good thing is a good thing.
Another person optimistically shared how it was possible for technology to help us wipe out racism and sexism.
Then there was a guy who got out of bed one morning only to have his back break in three places. And then he told us that it was the best thing that ever happened to him because it led to the discovery of cancer that would have surely taken his life had it not been found when it was.
Every single person shared a message filled with hope, optimism, and goodness. And I’d bet that every single person in attendance walked out feeling that maybe the world wasn’t as far gone as it can sometimes seem. And more importantly, I suspect they are now more likely to shine their light with the world around them. All because they were exposed to something good.
This is not about being a pollyanna and pretending that there are no problems in the world. It’s about getting energized by a power source of positivity so that we can become better equipped to solve those problems.
TED talks are a pretty good place to start. They are delivered by ordinary people (most of whom wouldn’t be considered famous) doing remarkable things.
What are allowing yourself to be exposed to? More importantly, what are you doing to shine a little light into your world?
It’s not difficult, but it is a choice.
My experience on the TEDx stage was a good one. Maybe more than anything, it was a great reminder that there are people who care out there bringing good into the world. It’s not perfect, but if your world seems particularly seems dark, negative, and devoid of hope, perhaps you need readjust your exposure level to something a bit brighter.