Recently it occurred to me that reading the news is not helping my efforts to thrive in life. While this may not seem an astonishing breakthrough it’s a significant realization in the context of my efforts to maintain a positive and optimistic mindset. There is no doubt that positivity and hopefulness are powerful energises of the human spirit. When we believe, in ourselves, in the future and in other people our spirit is unquestionably strengthened.
The thoughts we entertain, emotions we choose to feel and actions we subsequently take are at the heart of what drives the reality any of us create. Despite having been born an innately optimistic and passionate person, I, like most people,struggle with the pessimistic and depressing thoughts that creep into my mind – at times when I least expect them. The constant battle that rages in my mind between belief and doubt can be both exhausting and quite frankly annoying.
Reading the news about a week ago, I became aware of the draining impact this seemingly harmless exercise was having on me. Feeling happy and stress free, I launched my iPad looking to catch up with what was going on in the world. While there were a couple of positive stories most were filled with hatred, violence, devastation and loss. The compassionate part of my character kicked into hyper drive and I found myself sad that the world is, at times, so unkind. Before I knew it I found myself doubting humanity, my ability to make a difference and the point in trying.
Already feeling a dark cloud rolling over my world, I then made an even bigger mistake than reading the news – I chose to read the comments posted by other readers. What struck me were the overwhelmingly harsh judgements people were making and freely sharing. The vast majority of comments I read were loaded with spite and vitriol. It was obvious none of these people were in a position to judge let alone as harshly as they were choosing to. I felt safe in assuming that none of them are perfect and yet they seemed to believe other people should be.
Most of us have judgemental thoughts floating through our mind, but choosing to express them can be a destructive and entirely unhelpful decision to make. I believe we need to take the detrimental impact we can have on other people by expressing our opinions seriously. Maintaining positivity is hard enough without bringing each other down. I’m well aware of the enjoyment ‘trolls’ get from upsetting people online – but I’m not convinced that all of these comments are posted by these types of people.
This morning I fell into the same trap again! Thankfully this time I caught myself relatively quickly and moved on to a much more energising way of spending my time. Before I did however I read an article and a bunch of comments about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s recent visit with their family to Australia. While I have very little insight to their trip and what it entailed, it has been reported that they managed to enjoy our country with a little privacy. According to their harsh critics that fact makes them all sorts of terrible things, including:
- Bad parents; for not teaching their kids to interact with other people
- Privileged beyond what they deserve; they should get over themselves and ‘get in line’ with the rest of us
- Misguided; apparently unlike Americans, Australians are angelic in our respectful behaviour and will undoubtedly allow the Pitt-Jolies to enjoy uninterrupted time while here
- Arrogant; some argued that Australians don’t care about celebrities so again, they should get over themselves and get on with being a normal person.
What I want to ask these people is, how do you know? How do you know what its like to be Brad and Angelina? I’m assuming none are celebrities themselves and even if they were, famous people are also individuals with their own values, belief, attitudes and behaviours, so again how could they possibly know? How do they know what its like to be the child of a famous couple? What makes them think they know why these parents chose to create the family holiday experience that they did for their kids?
Why do these people feel justified in making such harsh judgement calls about people and circumstances that you know nothing about? The fact is none of the people who chose to comment have any idea what so ever about anything they commented on. All they did was put hurtful, unkind, destructive, pessimistic words and energy into a world that already has too much of that.
To the person who said Australians won’t inappropriately encroach on a celebrities space and family time, I want you to know I’m not so sure I can sign up to that agreement. While I try very hard to be a respectful person the reality is I, like the rest of my fellow Aussies am far from perfect. The truth is I’m not so sure I would behave as angelically as you argue I will around Alex O’Loughlin (for those not already aware Alex is the Aussie actor who plays Steve McGarrett on Hawaii Five O). If I ever run into Alex I’ll try to back away, but offer no guarantees. I’m sure there are Brad and Angelina fans all over this country who feel the same way.