I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago called Age of Negativity, where I thought about how much negativity is floating about on the internet in general and how this may be connect to our biological past. We react to negative things because as a species that evolved on the savannas of Africa, we needed to be aware of negative signs more than we needed to be aware of what was positive.
The thing is that I think that made us happier when positive things happened, because when you are under constant threat the positive things become stronger. Look at the rates of suicides in Western countries compared to places where life is really hard. It does seem like when you have it too good that you start to allow the mind to make up threats.
Now that does not mean that I do not think that people who suffer from depression are just making it up. I know far too well that what is in the mind is very real to the person that suffers from it, but I do think a lot of it is the amount of information being fed to us every day being too much for the brain, and therefore the overload causing stress and ultimately only the negative information going through.
The question is how do you combat this. You can try and shut out as much of the excessive information as possible by taking breaks from media and going on trips in the wilderness, like I try to do at least once a year. This helps a lot for me, but it does not always feel like it is enough. I have noticed that just taking a weekend off can make you feel great for a day or two, but then the information can overflow again and you might starting to feel like you are drowning in a sea of mental images.
So what do you do? I think the answer is to start noticing and keeping an eye out for the positive things in life. It isn’t easy as this is a bit of a breach from our evolutionary past and breaking your programming like that is not easy. But it can be done. You can start by noticing what you do yourself that is good for yourself and those around you and reward yourself with a smile or something similar.
If you do this often enough, you start to notice what others do that are good for you and themselves, and when you do notice it, let them know. There is something very strong about rewarding positive behavior. It takes a lot of work with yourself and with others, but as you do it, you will start noticing a better life for yourself and those around you.
As always start in the small and take it step by step.