I pose this question: don’t we all have enough going on in our own personal lives without drowning in the negativity of people we barely know or don’t know at all? So I ask you: how do we gain respite?
For me, it is a matter of limitations. I choose to be happy in my world, to treasure each day as a gift and to focus on those people whom I love, who matter to me and who don’t bring me down. Don’t get me wrong; I do not live in a bubble and won’t shy away from a discussion even if it is negative, but rather than fuel the fire of opposing views, I attempt to steer the conversation away from that fire. And nine times out of 10, I attempt to infuse humor.
Humor is a weapon I use often to diffuse difficult situations. Believe me, it works. Compassion is another. I genuinely listen to someone who chooses to vent and I wonder why they cannot see that, in this world, there is so much more than just the negatives. There are the positives. They are sometimes illusive, but they are always there. Seek them out. I believe in letting people voice their opinions, but I refuse to be brought down by negativity. Sure, I have opinions about our present political situation, sure I feel strongly about them. But here again is where I employ a very old philosophy, given to me years ago by my aunt: “If there is a cure, why worry? If there is no cure, why worry?”
I think sometimes people should be equipped with worry meters. We should get a digital readout of how much energy we expend worrying about things over which we have no control. Sure, you can be concerned about the state of the country; sure, you should worry about your kids; sure, it’s good policy to be concerned about job performance … but all within certain parameters. Will your worrying and losing sleep change the outcome of the November election? Nope. Will your stressing and crying change the behavior of others, be they family members or work acquaintances? Not at all. So why worry?
There is a huge difference between worrying and caring. Certainly you should care about all of the above and with caring comes a degree of worry. It’s natural. It’s human. My point is not that we become unfeeling and ambivalent, but rather that we care enough to take care of not only others, but, first and foremost, ourselves. Those who love you want to see you happy and healthy.
If those hypothetical worry meters did exist, what would they tell you about the percentage of time you spend worrying? Try to focus on the positive, enjoy your families, friends and everyday life. You are a gift to so many others who want to keep you around for a long, long time. So, as the song goes, “Don’t worry, be happy!”
Terry Alburger is the Life Engagement Coordinator at Brittany Pointe Estates, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. Email thoughts to email@example.com.
This column was published by MontgomeryNews.com on August 14, 2016.