An optimist is occasionally disappointed when things don’t turn out the way they believed they would, something that has little impact on them because their disposition allows them to think things will somehow still work out. Pessimists, on the other hand, are always disappointed, no matter the outcome, finding a dark lining around every cloud. The realist is a pessimist who, like the others, has chosen a position that protects them from harm.
No part of me is even remotely interested in writing about this crisis, and I intended to write no more about it—however, the many emails from people who responded to my Sunday newsletter changed my mind.
What might have been a low-grade psychological trauma for many has been increased to something closer to severe trauma. Too many have shared with me their sense of fear, hopelessness, and dread. Without asking, I know one cause is what they consume daily.
The New York Times headline reads: “70 Died at a Nursing Home as Body Bags Piled Up. This Is What Went Wrong.”
This is a headline from a Stephen King or Charles Dickens novel. Why the description of body bags piling up, if not to grab your attention and frighten you? This isn’t reporting, nor is it journalism. It’s a revenue strategy known as clickbait.
How about this one from The Wall Street Journal: “Our Zoom Future: Will Coronavirus Change Friendship Forever?”
The question, one that doesn’t need to be asked or answered, is whether our friendships will be solely maintained through screens when this ends. The author is likely the type of person who equates sexting with actual sex and believes his robot girlfriend is his real girlfriend. We are social animals, and there is exactly a 0.0% chance we live behind screens. Yesterday, our neighbors, people I have never met, stopped us on the way home from a walk to ask us to join them in a meetup (six feet apart, naturally). They want to be around people, even people they don’t know.
The Guardian leads with the headline: “‘Don’t bet on a vaccine to protect us from COVID-19,’ says world health expert.”
Here is the first paragraph: “‘Humanity will have to live with the threat of coronavirus for the foreseeable future and adapt accordingly because there is no guarantee that a vaccine can be successfully developed,’ one of the world’s leading experts on the disease has warned.” They found one professor who said something they could turn into a negative headline with the sole intention of scaring you into clicking.
And then there is The Drudge Report, a place for all things sensationalized and divisive, collected and sorted to ensure maximum fear and loathing, conflict, and, naturally, attention and clicks.
In The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, a book on success, with strong direction for the individual salesperson, I wrote about the concept of a negativity fast. As it pertains to eating, fasting provides enormous benefits to your body, including regulating your insulin response, weight loss, and an improved immune system, among many other positive outcomes.
Your mind is no different than your body. There is a positive or a negative impact on your mindset based on what you feed it.
Choosing to feed your mind a constant and never-ending diet of fear can only produce a single outcome of fear. Watching a website count the number of deaths is not only morbid, it undoubtedly contributes to the fear, anxiety, and the loathing many feel now.
There is nothing about a virus that should be political. It’s a naturally-occurring phenomenon, like the many we have experienced in the past, even if particularly nasty and foul. Only two groups of people treat a medical issue as a political issue, politicians and those who are infected with another virus, a virus of the mind called political ideology. As my friend Howard Bloom has observed, “Politics is permission to hate.” Feeding your mind anger, divisiveness, and the idea that people who disagree with you are your enemies is sure to make you sick.
A Negativity Fast
The Negativity Fast is an elimination diet. You remove things that are no good for you, replacing them with something healthier. There is a difference between being aware of what’s going on in your world and consuming it through the most negative and sensationalized lens possible.
You don’t have to look any further than Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN to find pits of virtue signaling anger, poor thinking, political ideology, conspiracy theories, and opinions that confirm biases with a demonstrated unwillingness to consider other perspectives, unnecessary provocations, hostility, and divisiveness.
During a negativity fast, you need to replace the negative (all of the sources listed above, and maybe a few pessimistic friends and family members) with something healthier, something that strengthens your mindset, improving your attitude, your results, and your life.
Were I to offer a prescription, I would recommend you start listening to Zig Ziglar, Les Brown, Brian Tracy, and Earl Nightingale. This is a great list to begin with, were you to decide to trade fear for hope, despair for empowerment, pessimism, and fatalism for optimism and possibility, and fear for the courage to live your life.
Over the course of sixty days, eliminating negativity from your diet and replacing it with something positive will improve your mindset and your attitude and your results. The world will continue on its path, but your view of it will look very different than before.
What you feed your mind is a choice. Your diet can make you sick, or it can improve your health. What you allow in is one of the most important decisions you can create and one you should take great care to consider. Removing the sources of dis-ease will allow a sense of hope and make you feel a lot better.
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