These days, there seems to be no end to bad news. Just turn on the television or pick up a newspaper, and the world is ready to inundate you with negativism.
Crime, unemployment, foreclosures, domestic violence, terrorism, political scandals, bank failures, cyber crime, the list goes on and on. It's information overload, and it's easy to be overwhelmed -- unless you use some kind of mental and psychological self-defense tactics.
I guess it's only human, the tendency to obsess over every detail, to minutely dissect every bit of bad news, to discuss it ad nauseum and try to second-guess every last morsel of negativity that you hear. Some people thrive on that; they just absolutely love it.
I guess those are the kind of people who like to latch onto the latest destructive gossip and pass it on. That, to me, is poisonous and venomous, and I choose not to take part in dwelling on the negative.
Some "go with the flow," internalizing all the bad news and coming up with a "life is hopeless, poor me" attitude. As for me, I have decided to search for the silver lining. Call it what you will, whether it's looking on the bright side or taking the train of thought that the glass is half-full, instead of half-empty.
My father-in-law, who spent 32 years working for the Atlanta Constitution, was the eternal pessimist, always expecting the worst. I have made a conscious decision to train my thought processes (or at least try) to lean the other way, toward the positive.
When too much vitriol comes from the world, I deliberately disconnect, for sanity's sake. I count my blessings, and give thanks. For every bad thing, there's some good. You can find those good things, if you look.
I see the unemployment statistics, and realize I was once a statistic. I know for a fact, life is less scary when you're earning a paycheck, and it's easier to pay the bills. I searched and searched, then one day my dream job popped up out of the blue, and fell into my lap unexpectedly. Not only do I have a job, it's one I like, doing something I love.
I drive an older car, not flashy by any means, and I could complain when I see people driving their shiny, new cars. But my car is paid for, and I'm thankful I have reliable wheels. I think of all the people who have no car, who are forced to take public transportation or bum rides with someone else.
The house I live in is older, built in the early 1970s, and needs some repairs. I think of the people who are living in homeless shelters, or on the street. There's no end to the housework, whether it's sweeping the floors, vacuuming the rugs, doing the laundry, cutting the grass, or doing yard work. I give thanks I no longer live in an apartment. I was an apartment dweller for many years, and it gets old after awhile. Plus, the tax benefits for apartment renters just aren't there.
I sometimes feel like the grocery store is my second home, the way I'm constantly running to Super Wal-Mart or Publix. When I find myself wryly thinking how much money we could save, and how much wealthier we could be if we didn't have to pay for groceries, I think of the people who don't have enough to eat. I look in our cabinets, and in our refrigerator, and realize how blessed we are not to have to wonder where our next meal will come from.
When I fret and get frustrated over some political issue not to my liking, I hang on to the thought that, in America, we have the freedom to voice our opinion and complain, without fear of retaliation or being thrown in jail.
With everything else going on in the world, we should never take that freedom for granted. So, I try not to get hung up on details that can drive me crazy, because things have a way of working out for the best, if you just believe.
There are some things that you just can't control, so let them go. I keep moving forward in faith, and remember the prayer that I can be granted the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Valerie Baldowski covers government and politics for the Henry Daily Herald. She can reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.