I don’t know about you, but it seems everywhere I turn lately, I see a news story or read a Facebook comment or overhear someone talking about something that we all need to be worried about. Maybe even afraid of and probably angry about too. One thing I know for sure, making choices and taking action out of fear, anger, and other negative feelings is a mistake. It is much better to make decisions from a place of optimism, kindness, and love. Making choices out of hope instead of fear can make a big difference in our lives and in our world.
I truly believe there is a whole business model out there that makes money by selling fear. Think about the commercials you’ve seen that seem to sell a bright, new future. You know, the one that comes with a new car, a new beauty product, or a new electronic device. We need to buy these things to be good enough, pretty enough, smart enough. They seem to be selling us hope for a brighter future, but they are also using our fear and insecurity to sell us things we don’t really need.
This can also be seen in our modern political environment. How many voters cast their ballots under the influence of fear and anger rather than hope? How many political rallies and commentaries promote fear and anger instead of love and optimism? And what about the nightly news? If I hear a positive story on the news, it’s been set apart as the “friendly” story of the night. Twenty minutes of bad news and 1 minute dedicated to a feel-good story.
I’m not saying there aren’t plenty of reasons to be scared or angry these days. But I do believe we are mistaken when we let those things drive our decisions and choices. This is especially true of how we choose to treat other people. When we act out of fear and anger, we damage relationships, cause deep rifts, and promote more fear and anger. It is destructive to our homes, communities, and ultimately, our planet.
I love what Nelson Mandela had to say about how to make choices. “May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” What would our lives look like if this was always the case? Would we take more time to appreciate life? Would we smile and laugh more? How much more at peace would we be? When I think back to the decisions I regret most in my life, most of them were made based on fear, insecurity, and even anger.
It seems like every time I turn on the television or read a news story, someone is angry about something. One of the main reasons I started this blog was to counter all the negative comments I was seeing online. It was really bringing me down and I wanted to share positive thoughts and words instead of responding to negative ones.
Angry words, once spoken (or tweeted or texted), can never be taken back. You can apologize, but the damage is already done. Remember the saying: Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out. Think back to a time when you reacted in anger. Did your anger help the situation? Or did it escalate? Did you build a bridge or burn one down?
It can be hard to change our perspective when we’ve been wallowing in anger and negativity for a long time. But it is possible to turn around and choose hope. One of the best ways is to start looking for good things. Your focus determines your reality. So if you focus on negative things, your reality with be negative. If you focus on positive things, your reality will be positive. Don’t believe me? Try it for a week. See how it goes.
I always recommend starting a gratitude journal. You don’t have to spend any money. Just find a notebook and a pen and write down one, two, three things each day that you are grateful for. You will find that you are more aware of the blessings in your life and you will focus more on those good things.
Once you start focusing on the good things in your life, you will usually find that anger and fear are no longer your default settings when something happens. You’ll be better prepared to look for the good in every situation, more able to forgive and let go of negative things, and your anger and fear will have less power in your life.
Love Casts Out Fear
In the New Testament, John chapter four, we are taught that love casts out fear. Whether or not you are religious, this statement holds true. So many traditions, so many stories from around the world tell of love overcoming hate, fear, and anger. Love is the most powerful force in the world. But we must choose it over fear if we want to use its power in our lives.
Think of someone you know who exudes love and positivity. It could be a public person or a personal acquaintance. Don’t they seem to lift you up when you spend time with them? Don’t they make the shadows of life fade? Spending time with them is like sitting in the sunshine. I hope you have someone like that in your life. But even more so, I hope you can become that person for yourself and for those you love.
Give it a try. Let your fear and anger go. Embrace the positive and the love in your life. It’s not something that you can do all at once and be done with. It will probably take some trial and error. Just keep moving in the right direction. And I’ll keep trying too.
Thanks for reading and please share.