Happiness. Positivity. Avoiding Negativity. Social Media. News.

Over and over again in life, things happen.  Things that don't make us happy today, and won't make us happy tomorrow, or probably, ever.  Hearing about those things, or reading about the repeatedly, won't make us happy, today or tomorrow, or the next day.

Depression is contagious

Happiness is contagious.  

Aspects of use of social media have been correlated with unhappiness.   "FaceBook has long been strongly associated with a decline in people’s emotional well being." 

A news site, the Guardian, stated "News is bad for your health. It leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply. The solution? Stop consuming it altogether.  As they note, (1) News misleads. (2) News is irrelevant.  (3)  News has no explanatory power. The more "news factoids" you digest, the less of the big picture you will understand (4).  News is toxic to the body.  It constantly triggers the limbic system, and deregulates the immune system. (5)   News increases cognitive errors.  (6) News increases cognitive errors.  (7)  News inhibits thinking.  Steals our attention, interrupts, makes us shallow thinkers, and more.  (8)  News works like a drug.  (9)  News wastes time. (10)  News makes us passive.  (11)  News kills creativity."   (heavily edited on my part, original article is worth reading).  In other words, news does not make us happy.

And yet, what is life, without being happy?   Ingersoll knew it: "Every human being longs to be happy, to satisfy the wants of the body with food, with roof and raiment, and to feed the hunger of the mind, according to his capacity, with love, wisdom, philosophy, art and song.  ~Robert G. Ingersoll, How To Reform Mankind

I'm no Pollyanna.  I've faced grief, abuses, worry, illness, deaths and betrayals, as much  as many.  Even now, with cancer treatment and loss of meaningful work.  But will it make me happy to focus on those losses? 

I would rather look for the positive.  Find inspiration.  Seek things to accomplish.  Explore.  Find joy.

Despite some articles suggesting otherwise, I'm not off all social media, and I do read news.  But what I've stopped doing is, reading doom and gloom.  I've greatly limited my exposure to the Gloomy Gus's and Debbie Downers of the world.  I seek people who are cheerful and positive, and try to bend others to see the bright side of things.   Some do not have a temperament for positivity, and eventually I accept that and don't try.  Fine, there has been news counter to my values.  It's gonna happen, a lot. And I do read the news, but I sometimes try to take the approach that it's like a novel or movie, which I know I can't influence, so just see what happens for interest and to test my abilities to analyze and predict.  I do care about people who are having a rough time, but I feel helpless to change that. 

Find some new pleasures, or revisit old ones.  Avoid politics.  How does politics possibly help me or make me happy?  I doubt, I'll ever give up current events.  I subscribe to NY Times and Washington Post, but I don't obsess over the daily grind of bad, and worse, and worser, news.

I'd rather be happy.

Finishing with my hero, Ingersoll, "To love justice, to long for the right, to love mercy, to pity the suffering, to assist the weak, to forget wrongs and remember benefits – to love the truth, to be sincere, to utter honest words, to love liberty, to wage relentless war against slavery in all its forms, to love wife and child and friend, to make a happy home, to love the beautiful in art, in nature, to cultivate the mind, to be familiar with the mighty thoughts that genius has expressed, the noble deeds of all the world, to cultivate courage and cheerfulness, to make others happy, to fill life with the splendor of generous acts, the warmth of loving words, to discard error, to destroy prejudice, to receive new truths with gladness, to cultivate hope, to see the calm beyond the storm, the dawn beyond the night, to do the best that can be done and then to be resigned – this is the religion of reason, the creed of science. This satisfies the brain and heart."
– Robert G. Ingersoll

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Comment by Idaho Spud on May 4, 2017 at 10:52am

Daniel, I too read about science, gardening, and medicine.  I subscribe to Consumer Reports on Health, and get email from several medical sites.  I get email from several science and space sites.  Of course, above all, as you said, I'd rather be outside hoeing, planting, and drinking it all in.

Comment by Daniel W on May 4, 2017 at 10:36am

Thanks for the thoughtful comments.

Joan, thank you.  There is no harm in going where your passions lie.  Of course what you say is welcomed.

Spud, I have similar responses to events.  One thing I did was turn off everything on my Facebook from Democrats, and I now when I get phone calls from "Anonymous" and unknown numbers, I pick up the phone, don't say anything, and wait for the caller to make themselves heard or the computer to hang up.  That way I don't have to listen to another robocall from Democrats and more scare tactics.  It's useless giving them money, which is why I subscribed to the NY Times and Washington Post, which I think are mostly reliable, aggressive, and hold the politicians more accountable than the corrupt, corporate puppet party politicians, of both sides, will ever do.  I skim the headlines, and since it's mostly more bullshit, I don't read most of the articles about politics.  I do read about science, history, medicine, and nature.  Those make me happy.  I don't read more gloom and doom on this website either.  I want to see what people are doing about things, not passive victimology.

Doing make me happy.  Learning makes me happy.  Even though I've always been an addict to current events, the news, does not make me happy.  I don't need to know every lie and every inappropriate thing that every poltician, religious person, and everyman has said.  I'd rather be outside hoeing the kitchen garden.

Comment by Joan Denoo on May 1, 2017 at 6:05pm

Daniel, this is a GREAT piece. You clearly state what you don't like and find those things that bring you "satisfies the brain and heart". 

Your site recommendations offer insightful reading that I have only lightly skimmed. I agree with you that "News is bad for your health. It leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply. The solution? Stop consuming it altogether.

I have been thinking about you over the past months as I write and report about topics that interest me, i.e. politics, labor issues, and economics. I know you have been staying away from such topics and I keep you in mind as I put such items in the Politics, Economics, and Religion group. No need for the dismal sciences if anyone wants to stay away from them. I forget all too often to put such comments and discussions there. 

I may sound defensive when I say I read the "dismal" sciences, but for me, I want to know the underlying causes of current events, the history of conflicts. I want to have an understanding of the problems and then tackle them with my method of finding solutions and forming opinions. 

So, I read your comment with high enthusiasm; I promise you I will be sensitive to your opinions just as I respect you very highly. 

Please let me know if I violate my commitment to you. 


Comment by Idaho Spud on May 1, 2017 at 11:03am

My personality is such that I usually see the negative parts of life far stronger than the positives.  That often leads to depression and being stressed-out.  Not good for me.

Therefore, I have to limit the amount of bad new I subject myself to.  

Whenever I see Trumps face, I quickly go elsewhere, or my blood pressure rises and I become too angry for my own good.

I get most of my bad news from the atheists here on Atheist nexus, and even then limit it to the basics, so I don't dwell in anger too much.

Comment by Michael Penn on April 25, 2017 at 8:49am

My deepest apologies to the late Gene Wilder and his family for the crude comparison below. In reality Gene would have made a much better president than Drumpf.

Comment by Michael Penn on April 25, 2017 at 8:45am

The way this all leads to our political woes today is to imagine that you have 2 groups. The first one sees the world as most of us have from this point backwards trough time before Willy Wonka was elected president.

This second group living in our would now thinks Wonka is "cute" and they love his sayings. Anything that he does is OK, and it's alright even when he sends a ship at sea in the wrong direction.

Everybody loves Willy Wonka and the problem is that nobody wants to report truth about him, or report how he might cause us all great harm. Wonka might even start a war. Sorry folks, but Wonka should not be in control nor should he be ignored.

Comment by Glen Rosenberg on April 22, 2017 at 11:03pm

Have read the contrary opinion as well. Intuitively though avoiding those who are not only negative about the external world and the nature and direction of man but promoting the spirit of misanthropy so that no joy is gleaned in life; well that paradigm is a detriment to our own psyche. 

On other hand being exposed to and appreciating the ugly truth is part of having an authentic life. It is quite possible to view the contemptible in contemporary events with equanimity and understanding. 

Am also partial to Ingersoll.


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