It’s all about how you look at things.
That’s what I tell people whenever they ask me how I get my photos to look the way they do, how I tell a story eloquently, how I maintain positivity (I don’t all the time! It’s
a facade hard!). Perspective is everything, and whether you’re framing a shot or questioning a piece of information you just received, it really is all about how you look at things.
I feel compelled to write this diary entry of a post based on recent observations of happenings — primarily on the internet — for the past few years. Comment sections and Twitter feeds are rife with negativity, brimming with complaints, rants, and vitriol.
In a lot of ways, I get it; there are a lot of things to be angry about. That’s not really what I’m referring to in this case; righteous anger — a reaction to true injustice — is a thing, and I think it’s healthy to process emotions that arise when those things come up.
That said, being angry for the sake of being angry is poisoning yourself and those around you. Not YOU you, but the proverbial you. I’m not attacking you, sweet sweet reader. My little cherub.
The Peloton commercial “controversy” is what really brought this to mind this month. I heard there was a major outcry over a “sexist and fat-shaming” and “overall cringe” commercial. I didn’t bother to watch, until I saw something about Ryan Reynolds doing some kind of clap back commercial. I didn’t get it, so I watched the original, and… I didn’t get it. I felt nothing. I didn’t feel particularly compelled to buy a Peloton, but I also didn’t feel anger, or like anything was off. Seriously?? Of all the things to get angry about… people took to social platforms to rant about this? Not to sound like the “girl you wish you hadn’t started a conversation with,” but PEOPLE ARE DYING, SETH!
Being emotionally heightened and in a place of fear leaves us more susceptible to reactivity, aggression, and generally unpleasant behavior. It’s on each of us to make a shift within ourselves and our own perspectives so that we can impart a bit more positivity on the world around us. Again: it’s how you look at things.
consider the information: framing is everything
As a writer, I know how much a subtle tweak in words, phrasing, and structure of a story can completely change how someone receives information. Those who are in music know how the slightest shift in a chord or addition of a single note can take a song from great to goosebump-inducing. If you’re in fashion, you know that the exact same top can be transformed into a brand new piece with a different fabric or color. Presentation has an immense effect on how information is received.
In essence, framing changes how you look at things.
When presented with new information, try to think about it from different perspectives, and consider if it’s framed to achieve a certain purpose. Are they trying to make you laugh? Garner empathy? Incite anger? Persuade you a certain way?
Even facts can be framed in different ways to either persuade your opinion or elicit an emotional response. Check out this (very stupid) example that I’m just riffing off the cuff:
Fact: New York City has a million different activities on offer
Options to frame it:
- NYC has a million different activities, it can be so overwhelming and chaotic; try to find stillness and silence where you can to center yourself. There are recovery and meditation centers throughout Manhattan.
- NYC has a million different activities; it’s definitely made for extroverts and people with a lot of energy! Introverts should probably avoid this place. In fact, maybe these people should calm down…
- NYC has a million different activities, proof that our culture isn’t happy with just BEING. We need to constantly be entertained, wowed, on the go, plugged in. When did we become so bored with life that we needed so many THINGS to do? Do we really need to be this overstimulated to be happy?
- NYC has a million different activities, which proves how inventive and innovative this generation is. There’s a new experience awaiting you any time you’re ready to open yourself up to something different. What an incredible time to be alive, and place to be!
Crazy, right? Four different ways to present the same information (and proof that it’s sometimes much easier to be negative than it is to be positive). Framing shifts how you look at information, and how you look at information can inspire your mood and impact anger levels.
consider your biases: perception is (also?) everything
This is such a nuanced topic that could be multiple doctoral theses, but in general, know that our brains and inherent biases (we have so much unconscious bias and confirmation bias up the waz) are affecting how we see the world. Try to see the beauty; soften your approach and look at things in a new light.
Not everything is negative, not everything is an attack. You don’t need to be on the defense — or on the offense, for that matter — all the time. Are you looking at things through a negative lens? Through a lens of fear? Keep this in mind. I’m working on it myself!
choose to rethink, and make it a habit
Like I said: righteous anger is legit. Getting bent out of shape over an ad for a stationary bicycle? Use that time and energy to find a therapist near you and unpack at your next appointment. No shade or disrespect, I do a biweekly unpacking with mine.
Shifting your energy and your perspective on a regular basis will help rewire your thought process and will reconstruct your approach to life. The way you see the world will be a little sunnier. This doesn’t mean you’ll encounter fewer hardships and endure fewer traumas and tragedies, but it will improve your resilience to these things. Actively shift your perspective: consider framing and bias, and soften into positivity as best you can.
The more positive energy we bring to the table, the more we can improve our own lives and the lives of those around us. Do positive thoughts end world hunger and poverty, cure cancer, reverse climate change, eradicate systemic racism, and provide a solution to healthcare and terrorism? Dude no. But those things aren’t getting solved with negativity, fear, and anger, either.
Here I am being a cat poster again… but!.. The more positive we are, the more we can work together in harmony. And the more we do that, the closer we will be to solutions to the things that plague our planet. Positive thoughts and fresh perspective will make more space in our brains for good ideas, innovation, and ways to connect.
time for resolutions
Perhaps infusing more positivity into your life and thought process can be your goal for 2020, or your intention for this next *decade* — it certainly is one of my intentions. I’ll be right there with you; away with negativity, away with fear — onward in optimism. The world is quite lovely when you look at it from the right angle.