“In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”—Eleanor Roosevelt
One of the most intriguing things about listening to people describe news events is their tendency to remember—and their preference to discuss—the most gruesome segments. I once heard someone say that the newscast he had just watched was not very interesting because nothing really catastrophic had been reported. Of course, this person was probably joking, but as legends always have a bottom of truth, so do jokes.
For whatever twisted reasons tied to human nature, our attention is quickly captured by drama and negative news. This little psychological secret is the bread and butter of political campaigns and mental control; although people complain about the verbal attacks and blows below the belt they witness, their attention is piqued quickly, and the goal of the campaign strategists is attained.
This phenomenon can be observed in literally everything; in novels, a dark knight is always more charming and dream-worthy than a white knight; talk shows thrive on human drama; soap operas are parodies of human inadequacy; positive blogs get limited attention, while bashing, offensive posts draw opinions and readers. Why are we so entertained by doom and human drama? Are we secretly entertained by the tragedies befalling others because it gives us an edge, and we feel better about our own precarious situation when witnessing others suffer? Could it be that negative news is a vehicle of connection to other people? After all, people like to come together and talk about something bad that happened; the tragedy becomes their link to others, and talking about the event opens the door to feeling united by a common denominator.
We approach life in approximately the same fashion. If we were to catalog all our thoughts in a day, three quarters of them are focused on what we don’t want in our lives, rather than being directed at what we want. If someone loses their spouse, for example, they become consumed with insecurity and bitterness, and a huge percentage of their thoughts focus on what the person has done to them. That will not bring their spouse back, nor will it help in finding another companion, as nobody wants to be around someone who’s a prisoner of their past. At this point, the question should be: Have we not been hurt enough by others that we feel the need to continue the beating with our very own hands?
Regardless of what some think, thoughts have power over our realities, and what we choose to think has a hand in forging the future ahead. Thinking positively about what we want triggers a series of chemical reactions in our bodies, and produce subliminal changes that become our business card in the outside world, thus triggering reactions in others.
Focusing on what we want allows us the opportunity of creating a clear mental picture of what we need to recharge for, and fuels our innate drives toward achieving that goal. Would you not want to fuel your car with premium gasoline, if you have that choice? Our lives should deserve no less.