My last Viewpoint column, “I’m Confused,” in December was about all the people who seem so angry about this life when we have so much to be thankful for. It concluded, kind of revealed itself to me as I wrote, that it was a matter of “personal choice” based on how we see reality — reality being a subjective matter of perception, not an objective fact. I received e-mails, comments in person and texts about it, ranging from cynical global perspectives to more upbeat, encouraging personal opinions. Those exchanges of views are one of the best things about writing these Viewpoint columns. Just talking with those of like minds is nowhere near as stimulating as tossing around varying outlooks.
My “confusion” reminded me of a few years ago when I wondered why I was repeatedly choosing the slowest lines/lanes in traffic, the grocery store, the bank tellers or drive thru… A bit of reflection told me it was unlikely I was repeatedly doing that. The odds are against it. More likely I was the problem, and for some reason, was being more impatient than usual. When dealing with issues like that, I rarely pay any attention to “why” and focus on “what” I’m going to do about whatever it is. In that case I resolved to slow down, take some more time to relax and get in a better frame of mind. So, to address my recent confusion, I decided to shift my focus to the people I see every day, both strangers and those I’m more familiar with, who are pleasant, friendly, nice and seem to appreciate this life. Of course, they still can see room for improvement in various areas, but they aren’t angry and ranting like the pundits nor do they see everything heading toward catastrophe.
This column is writing itself as I put down each sentence. I mentioned pundits. I’ve been avoiding political news lately because this 24-hour frenzy to continually offer something/anything that attracts viewers makes it so biased. And folks go to those biased sources because it reassures them that they have it all figured out. But from those extremes the facts are obscured and polarized. We have far more in common than differences, but those pundits accentuate the differences to corral followers. I prefer exchanging different viewpoints, seeking common ground, compromising out of respect for others and problem solving on current issues. Not having a television and not participating in that skewed social media allows me to think. That makes it much easier to shift my focus to people and areas that are more reasonable and open-minded.
In conclusion, I’ll share a website I found that fits: Good News Network. A nice way to start my day. And a final shout-out to the lady who said she didn’t understand that half full vs. half empty stuff. She just saw a glass with some water in it. Now smile. There are plenty of reasons to.