The Joy and Bane of Video Games

Everything in life is best when taken in moderation. This is a common theme among many practices in our lives, especially when it comes to things that can be harmful when taken to extremes. The effects of addictive behavior are most obvious when our addictions create behaviors that are obvious or dangerous others, but some of our vices are only harmful to ourselves primarily and can have a secondary negative effect on the people around us that may not be as clear.

For myself, I struggle with an extremely addictive personality. For most of my life I have had a problem with moderating my behavior in certain activities, partly because they are so enjoyable and partly because of the hyper-focused way that my mind works. What this means in reality is that anything I engage in that I find fun and that requires any amount of dedicated focus is likely to turn into an addiction, even if only for a short period of time. Once it’s no longer fun, the addiction fades away.

The problem arises when you have an endless supply of new versions of whatever your addiction happens to be. For many people, video games fall into this category, and I am certainly included in that group. My entire life from childhood to now has included a significant amount of digital interactive entertainment, from the early console systems like the Nintendo Entertainment System (really showing my age here) all the way up to the modern online gaming era that included monster role playing games like World of Warcraft.

As I stated before, there are two components to a video game addiction that causes problems. The first is the part that gets us involved in the first place: fun. We start out playing a game because we find it enjoyable, and the more fun something is, the more time we want to spend doing it. We get snared into that great feeling we get when we’re doing something we like, and that creates an urge to keep playing even when we know we should stop.

The second part is the focus aspect. The reason this is important is that virtually all video games are designed to grab your attention and hold it for the entire time you are playing. It is rare to find a truly engaging game that doesn’t require you to put most or all of your attention on it constantly. As a result, your mind shuts out the world around you and you are immersed in the fantasy world that has been created for you.

As I said at the beginning of this article, neither of these two things are necessarily bad on their own. Escaping reality for a short period of time can be quite healthy, providing a relief from the stress and pressure of our daily lives. The problem arises when you find yourself wanting to spend more and more of your time in that world and can’t bring yourself back to the real one. When you pull yourself away and all you can think about is getting back to the game, you’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms. It is classic addiction.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to resolve this kind of thing. Video game addiction ranges from a mild problem to full blown ruining of people’s lives. Unlike a drug addiction, there are no harmful chemicals that can cause us to “overdose”, so it is much like a functioning alcoholic in that the person is damaged and this causes problems for the people around them, but they can still go on being addicted and make things work. It isn’t optimal, just functioning.

This is the joy and bane of videos games, at least when it comes to someone like me with an addictive personality. For most things in my life, I have brief explosions of addictive behavior, which is fine because I also quickly become bored and move on. Video games, on the other hand, change so much and so fast that I never seem to get bored. Individual games fall away, but gaming itself has stood the test of time. I am a functioning video game addict, and I’m not alone. Odds are that if this came up in your search, you might be too.

What do you think about video game addiction? Do you or someone you know struggle with it? Where do you draw the line between simply enjoying a game and becoming addicted to it? This isn’t the deepest of topics covered on this blog, but sometimes the simple things affect us the most. Knowing you have a problem and finding a way to break free of it are two different things, and one is much harder than the other.

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Maintaining Relationships with Emotional Problems

I tend to have tunnel vision. It’s one of my major flaws that I’ve never seemed to be able to figure out how to effectively deal with. As my attention is grabbed by one thing or another, I tend to become hyper interested in whatever it is I am doing and everything else falls out of my consciousness. The result of this is that I tend to have difficulty maintaining any real amount of focus on anything else as my mind races in lockstep with whatever current activity I’m involved in.

One of the consequences of this flaw in my makeup is that I tend to have a great deal of difficulty in maintaining my relationships with other people. This isn’t because I don’t care about the people in my life. On the contrary, when a need arises I set everything aside to make sure whatever they need is taken care of. However, when it comes to the day to day process of interacting with the people who are important to me in my life, I tend to not do a very good job of maintaining contact at the level that they would prefer.

There is an over-tendency to jump to medical diagnoses when it comes to behavioral problems such as this, throwing around terms like Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), but I think most of the time this is just an excuse for people to not have to change their ways. If we can blame a medical problem for our behavior, then we don’t have to take responsibility for our actions and we don’t have to put any effort into changing.

The other end of the spectrum is just as bad. When people don’t understand why you have the behavior that you do, it is difficult for them to accept that you might want to change but can’t do it overnight. Some of the people in your life might tell you that you should just be able to stop doing what they don’t like as if it is like flipping a switch. Behavioral habits just don’t work like that.

By far the most difficult situation is when your significant other stands in opposition to whatever behavioral issue you might be dealing with, especially when their is no understanding on their part about what your behavior is and why. They become hurt when you don’t act in the way they wish that you would, taking it as a sign that you don’t care. As a result, the situation is not only created by the fact that you have a negative habit in your behavior, it is amplified exponentially by the emotional hurt caused by a lack of understanding on both sides.

The goal would seem to be that each party in any relationship should approach the situation with a default attitude of not making any assumptions until enough evidence has been acquired to make a conclusion. Are they ignoring me because they don’t care, or are they busy with something and it’s just the way they are that causes them to forget everything else? Do they take care of the important things I need them to do, or do they let me down when it really counts?

At the same time, both sides should also be putting effort into resolving whatever behavioral issues are causing strain in the relationship. Ample patience and understanding should be had on both sides in understanding that the process of changing a habit takes a very long time, and behavioral habits are perhaps the most difficult to adjust. When we remember that some things take a lifetime to change, we start to see that even small, tiny changes can be a huge sign that the person really cares about making us happy.

In the end, the attitude on both sides should be something to the effect of “I love you the way you are no matter what, but I have hope this thing I don’t like will change someday”. This way our love can be unconditional and we don’t place unnecessary stress on the other person, but we keep the focus on trying to reduce the strain in the relationship caused by things we don’t like. If both sides can adopt this philosophy, then the frustration of dealing with interpersonal problems becomes much easier to deal with.

What do you think about relational stress? Do you have a behavioral quality that is causing problems in your own relationships? What steps are you taking to not only change your own behaviors, but become understanding of other people’s issues and support their efforts to change them? Relationships are perhaps the most important part of our life, and learning to improve them can have a drastic effect on our happiness and contentment.

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Am I a Good Person?

One of my favorite songs right now is a parody music video by a YouTube content creator by the name of TheOdd1sOut entitled Good Person. In the video, the performer goes through several examples of a completely self absorbed person who does a number of “good” things in an effort to show what a virtuous person they are, but each example is nullified by an equally bad or selfish thing that shows his true colors. The message of the video is funny but clear: the point of doing good things is to be good, not to look good.

This is a perfect satirical statement about our society today. Too many people are far more interested in their own optics rather than actually getting anything done. In a nation where the average person craves fame more than value, it is difficult to find people who you can count on to do the right thing even most of the time. More often than not, what we see in public is vastly different than who the person really is in their private life.

Most of us struggle with this in our own lives from time to time, so it is difficult to become too angry with these people. One of the hardest things for a person to do is to break away from the crowd and stand up for something that isn’t very popular. It doesn’t matter if the thing we believe in is factually correct or morally righteous. Our fear of rejection or even physical harm can sometimes prevent us from doing the right thing. It’s easy to be noble when there aren’t any consequences for it. The task becomes infinitely more difficult when we have to face opposition.

Still, a lack of courageous people in our society is exactly why we see the societal rot that we live with today. Career politicians are the most obvious and corrupt example of this. If you look back on the average representative, you will likely find a multitude of positional changes as you move through their history. Sometimes it is a genuine change of heart on an issue, but most of the time it is either political expediency or a necessary evil to save their job. Rarely does a politician truly sacrifice himself on the alter of truth.

On a more basic level, this is a problem not only with the people charged with leading our nation, but also with the general public at large. Most of us want to look like we’ll always do the right thing, but when an opportunity comes along that’s just too tempting to ignore we’ll happily jump into a situation that is harmful to someone else to line our own pockets. The riots over the last year or so are evidence of this. Average people stealing and destroying the livelihoods of their own neighbors, ostensibly because they’re angry about some esoteric problem but the reality is that it’s because they have an excuse to be evil and can get away with it.

There are a lot of places to lay the blame for this kind of behavior. The feckless media we have today certainly doesn’t help. They always cover the things that make us hate each other while ignoring the things we’ve done that make our nation great. The movie and television industry is no better, showing us as much violence and sex and other mind rotting material as they can cram through their production lines. Social media platforms filter out the things we really should be seeing in favor of those that pit us against each other, a divide and conquer strategy as old as time.

The bottom line, however, is that it doesn’t matter if we have corrupt politicians or a hollowed out media industry or even social networking conglomerates actively working against us. No matter what you see in your daily life, the only person responsible for your actions is you. When you set aside the noise of all the excuses laid out in this article and look at yourself in the mirror, all you’re left with is the actions you chose to take. It becomes very difficult to sidestep the guilt when there’s no one to blame but yourself.

The point of this article is not to make anyone feel bad, but to point out that being a good person is an internal thing. Much like being in love, no one else can tell you if you’re virtuous. You just know because you do virtuous things with no thought of reward. This is probably the hardest thing to do, because human beings are naturally selfish and want to get paid for their efforts. But the truth is that the best rewards have nothing to do with anyone else. It is feeling good about ourselves that is the greatest payment we can ever receive.

What do you think about fake goodness? How do you feel when you find out someone you thought was good never really was? Are you able to tell the difference between a truly selfless person and someone who just wants to get something from you? There’s nothing you can really do about the people in life who just want to get what they can for themselves, but you can always do something to make yourself a better person. The better you make yourself, the more you’ll be able to see people for who they truly are.

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Why Is It So Hard to Eat Healthy?

This is a huge topic for me. One of the biggest struggles I have in my life is learning to deal with eating the right way, and based on the fact that so many people in our country struggle with obesity, I know I’m not the only one. The food culture in the United States is an amazing thing, but it has also created an environment where many people will spend the rest of their lives struggling with weight, diabetes and other terrible afflictions brought on by the things that we put in our bodies.

I’ve stated in the past that I was a Marine for more than a decade of my life, and one would think that so much time spent in such a disciplined environment would have conditioned me to avoid this problem. Unfortunately, I had the bad luck of having an extremely high metabolism in my younger days and I was able to get by with minimal effort. I could eat whatever I wanted and it never really affected me. A bit of mandatory exercise and I was able to keep up with the physical requirements.

Where this failed me is when that metabolism started slowing down. Not having established any discipline with my food and a pattern of lazy behavior due to the lack of being forced to exert myself much has created an older gentleman that struggles not only to get off the couch but also to fight off the cravings for the things I’m used to. I’ve recently given up sugar, but that is far from a cure all. There has to be a comprehensive change in the way I live my life.

Despite the many personal reasons for why I’ve ended up in this situation, we have to look higher and wider for the reason why so many people today struggle with this issue. Many blame it on how expensive healthy food products have become, and that is certainly part of the equation. However, the real reason is something a bit more insidious, mostly because there is no human force behind it. The problem is simply a side effect of the modern world we live in: convenience.

I can personally attest to the fact that many times I end up eating things that are terrible for me not because I can’t afford to eat better, but because I just don’t feel like taking the time to prepare something better for myself. Why would I spend thirty minutes or an hour preparing a meal manually when I can just grab something to throw in the microwave? I don’t want to spend a significant portion of my day cooking, and my guess is that most people today feel the same way.

There are many things in life that convenience has made better, but it seems clear to me that it has become a menace in the world of food. There’s a saying that states that “nothing worth doing is easy”, and this is probably true. Convenient food is rarely healthy, but who can resist taking the easy path when it’s so accessible to so many? It becomes very difficult to choose to buy real groceries when you can just swing by the drive thru on your way home; buy a bag of chips rather than a tasteless bag of vegetables.

In the end, eating is a choice like everything else. We each decide what is most important to us, and one of those choices is convenience over health. As long as we continue to defer to our laziness rather than getting off the couch and eating better, we will struggle with being overweight. There is no secret formula to get us out of the natural equation. Eat less calories than you burn…that’s it. You do that by either eating less, working out more or some combination of the two. That is, until they come out with a pill that makes even burning fat convenient.

What do you think about unhealthy eating? Do you struggle with this like so many others? What can you change today to start moving yourself toward a more healthy lifestyle? People are always looking for the easy solution, but when it comes to our weight there just isn’t one. You have to put in the work, and for most people it is very hard. Only you can decide if you’re willing to put in the effort.

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You Don’t Need a New…..

It is interesting to look at consumerism in America. Most of us don’t think twice about buying something new, even when the thing we are replacing is still perfectly serviceable. For most of human history, our decision making when it comes to buying things was almost totally based on need, unless you happened to be in the privileged position of being wealthy. Nowadays, the average person lives far better than kings used to just a hundred or so years ago.

This of course started only in the last century as we increased our ability to make more and more things at cheaper and cheaper prices. The industrial revolution and the technological advances that followed it created a world where it was about the same price or effort to just buy something new rather than fixing what you had. Throwing things away in favor of the shiny new bauble was far preferable when the cost was the same.

Unfortunately, this attitude ignores one of the most logical tenets that should be a part of our decision making process: just because you can do a thing doesn’t mean that you should. In a previous post, I described how making decisions from a place of emotion rarely results in the best result. While that post was centered more around having the courage to face our fears, the same logic applies when it comes to the way we use things in our daily lives.

One of the best examples of the negative consequences of emotional spending is the purchase of vehicles. The average car has a reasonable useful lifespan of at least ten years, while the average loan today is only six years. Typically, the person owns the car for a few years and then gets bored with it, attracted by the shiny new model they see in an advertisement. Rather than paying off the car and using the extra four years the car should last to save up for their next car, they trade in now at a net loss and place the negative equity on top of the new car. Each new loan adds more and more debt for less value.

It doesn’t have to be this way, if you can learn to control your desires. I have historically struggled with this myself, and am saddled with a fair amount of debt because of it. However, I have learned to suppress this desire in certain areas of my life and I am now finally making headway. For example, I was accustomed to getting a new phone every couple of years, but rather than add another phone payment to my plan, I simply paid off my current phone and I’m holding onto it until it fails. It still works fine, despite a cracked screen and body, and there is no reason other than aesthetics to replace it. Why spend more for something I don’t need?

This is counter to what the market wants us to believe. It is not in the best interest of the economy in general for consumers to start spending less and holding onto things longer. It relies on people spending what they make to increase productivity and grow the GDP. You will rarely be told that you shouldn’t buy a new car or a new phone or a new house or whatever else you’re considering. Businesses rely on your dollar to keep running, and will do anything they can to acquire your patronage.

The point of this post isn’t so much to criticize people who buy things before they need to, but to encourage you to stop and think about your purchase before you commit to it. If you have the disposable income to arbitrarily purchase things with cash without endangering your finances, then I absolutely support your decision to inject money into the economy via your spending. However, far too many of us can’t really afford that shiny new thing and end up going into debt for it. This is where we really need to take a hard look at what we’re doing.

Being smart with money is something the average person just isn’t taught. It isn’t in the best interest of those who manipulate the rest of us to have a public that is informed on how things really work, and especially not to have someone like me advocating for people to not spend money they don’t have to. At the end of the day, only you can decide how to budget your finances, and it is your priorities that set your spending. Just keep in mind that the new thing you buy usually ends up costing you more than you first think.

What do you think about upgrading to new things? Are you good with your decision making, or do you tend to be wasteful? How much of your existing debt is a result of buying something new that you didn’t really need? At some point, we all need to learn how to be better with our money. If we don’t, we will continue to make the same mistakes over and over again, wasting money that we could have applied to something more valuable.

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Learning How to Value Yourself

Most of us struggle with seeing the great things that we contribute to the people around us. We get stuck in our daily routines, grinding our way through life just trying to make ends meet and we don’t notice the things that we do all the time that make a difference. It can become hard sometimes to feel motivated to do anything at all because we feel trapped in the regimented schedules that we have created for ourselves.

The reality is that to function in a society at all, there must be some sort of value that makes us worth dealing with. It is only when we have something meaningful to contribute that we are able to interact in any sort of positive way with the people in our lives. Even if you don’t make a lot of money, you have some sort of value that makes you important to someone. Our ability to be valuable to others isn’t necessarily about producing anything. Social currency is a real thing.

Men tend to focus on career, but this can be a very bad way to judge our own value. There are only so many high value jobs in the working world, and very few will rise to the level that we tend to think of as being “successful”. We tend to have a very “pie in the sky” view of what our lives should be, and the disappointment we feel when that dream world doesn’t materialize can be incredibly demoralizing if we don’t have realistic expectations.

I used to struggle with this myself. Like most men, when I was young I had this idea that I was going to have so many great things by the time I turned thirty, not realizing at the time that the people who get those things that early are the extreme exception, not the rule. My life certainly isn’t where I hoped it would be when I was just getting into my life as an adult, and sometimes it is a struggle to be satisfied with what I have.

What most men don’t realize is that we contribute a lot more than just our work. We are sons and fathers and brothers and husbands as well, and those things are far more important than how much money we make or what kind of car we drive or the house we live in. As many have said before, on the last day of our lives when we are looking back at what we spent our lives doing, we won’t be saying that we wished we made just one more dollar. We will be looking at the loved ones around us and feel grateful that we had amazing relationships to share that life with.

Women struggle in much the same way, except that their focus tends to be on self image rather than what they produce. The same idea applies to them. Focusing on our personal relationships rather than popularity or other such nonsense is a much better metric for determining your own value. The flaky friends you had when you were young won’t be there in thirty years when you need someone to give you real emotional support. It is your family and close friends who will matter in the end, not your dress size or social media friend count.

It can be difficult to look at our situations today and feel satisfied with where we are. Human beings are by nature movers, always looking ahead to the next thing we need to get done. I am certainly not satisfied with where my career has taken me, and it has spurred me to jump feet first into this blog with the small hope that I can make something valuable out of it. But along the way I need to remember that I am important in ways other than the dead end career options I’ve been given. Jobs are temporary; value lasts a lifetime.

What do you think about your own value? Can you see the good things you contribute to the world around you? Take a few minutes and make a list of the things about you that other people might find valuable, even if they seem ridiculous. As you take a moment to reflect on that list, you might find that you have far more to offer people than what the “mainstream” has decided is “valuable”.

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Learning to Keep Your Mouth Shut

One of the hardest things for a man to do is to sit back and let things happen, especially when they are things that he disagrees with. I have mentioned in the past that we can learn to live with humiliating situations, but what about those times when things are happening that strike at the core of your life and are being caused by people you used to trust? What do you do when you feel the anger welling up inside you and all you want to do is scream at someone?

I’ve learned over the years that many times speaking out just makes things worse, not only for you, but for the people you care about. I’ve said a lot on this blog about standing up to what is wrong and finding the courage to do what needs to be done, and in many situations this is absolutely the right thing to do. Unfortunately, there are also situations where sometimes you just have to sit down and shut up and let things happen, even if you hate every minute of it.

Among the myriad situations to which this applies is child custody. I haven’t gotten too personal about this particular area of my life, mostly because I prefer to keep my children out of anything public like this. The sad thing is that they are no longer close by, and everyone hates it except for the person who decided it in the first place. It was a decision made by one person that affects nearly everyone who matters, but none of us got a say in any of it.

What can you do in a situation like this? I could have fought the decision, but would that really have helped? There is a tenuous congeniality involved in this particular situation, a delicate balance which can be upset with a single wrong word. A step in the wrong direction could bring misery down not only on myself, but also on my kids. Even though my principles tell me to fight for what I think is best for them, the reality is that all I can really do is make things worse.

The movies give us situations like this all the time. A man might be walking down the street with his wife and they are accosted by a man with a knife wanting her purse. Our natural instinct is to defend the one we love, but in reality the odds are that resisting someone with more power than us is only going to result in someone getting hurt. Is it worth it to protect a few dollars or trinkets?

Where we get a difference is in the same situation when the man wants to rape his wife. Then it crosses a threshold where there is no longer any choice but to fight as hard as he can to stop a person with evil intent from causing irreparable harm to the person he loves most. This is a clear line that most of us naturally understand. There is very little ambiguity when it comes to a black and white situation like this.

The problem is that many of our problems don’t have black and white solutions. When things come up that cause us pain, the first thought that enters our mind is usually the nuclear option. Just blow everything up and let the chips fall where they may. This is almost never the correct response, and as we get older it becomes much easier to understand why. We start out making decisions impulsively with little wisdom. Experience teaches us the folly of acting that way.

In the end, sometimes we have to learn to just shut our mouths and accept what we can’t change. Only you can decide where this applies in your life. I can write on this blog and encourage you to stand up for your rights and fight the system, or do any number of other things, but at the same time we all have to realize that there are certain costs that we aren’t willing to pay. And sometimes we have to be aware of the costs we don’t even know about yet. Is it worth blowing everything up to get our way?

What do you think about using discretion? Have you learned to filter out what is important and what you need to just let slip by? How do you handle it when you have to just accept what is? Part of growing up is learning to differentiate between what you should fight against and what you should learn to live with. There are things that are non-negotiable, but sometimes it’s more important to sacrifice your pride for the benefit of others.

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We Want More Positivity and Less Politics

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you have noticed that I try to split my time between covering political issues that are important to me and more broad philosophical or self improvement topics that you can hopefully use to start figuring out things about yourself. As I continue to write and post and monitor traffic to the blog, as modest as it is in this early stage, I have noticed a decided lean toward the self help side of the spectrum. This isn’t particularly surprising, as our political discourse these days tends to be highly negative and self help is almost universally a positive thing.

It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of political narratives and enter into a state of pure hopelessness as we watch the world descend into perceived chaos around us. History has shown us that societies work in cycles, with long periods of peace and success interlaced with explosive bursts of violence and unrest. As we move further into the rest of this decade, we can expect it to only get worse before it gets better.

I myself notice that I tend to gravitate toward news articles, mostly because I want to get a feel for what is going on in the world around me. Nearly all of what I watch when it comes to this kind of thing relates to politics and the things that are happening that will have some sort of effect on the life I want to live. It’s easy to become discouraged and forget to swing back to the more positive side of things.

In a previous article, I mentioned that people tend to label me a pessimist, and in many cases they are probably right. Yet I find hope even when I’m faced with all of the political negativity that our society faces today. There are changes brewing in our nation that seem to be the start of the natural swing of the pendulum away from one side of the spectrum back to the other. The light at the end of the current tunnel is getting closer and closer and we all yearn to step back into the sunshine.

Where I have to start being a bit more observant is starting to shift my attention a bit more away from politics and more onto the side of providing what insight I can into the issues that normal people deal with every day. It seems like there is a massive craving in our society today for anyone to step up and start addressing the massive personal and emotional and discipline issues that the last few generations have never learned to deal with, including mine. As I myself work through these complex problems, I try to post them here so that my readers and get another perspective on whatever problems they are dealing with.

Not being a certified therapist, and apparently having that decidedly pessimistic streak, it would be easy for me to shy away from giving advice to people about the big problems that we all deal with. The reality is that it isn’t a piece of paper that makes one qualified to help others. Life experience is just as valuable as a textbook, and many times it is the individual experience we gain through life that is the most helpful to those who need it most. That’s what makes us truly care about those around us because we went through the same things.

I’m not sure how much I can help in this regard, but it is clear to me that my readers seem to be more interested in the positive, helpful articles than the philosophical and political posts. That doesn’t mean I plan on giving up on putting my point of view out there, but it does mean I want to be open to breaking down more of the issues that will help you more directly. We all yearn for a guide, and while I may not be the absolute most qualified person, it is clear to me that I can at least be helpful to some degree.

To that end, it is my hope that you will take a moment to share something that is important to you, or make a request for an article about an issue that would be helpful to you. Collaboration in this environment is important, and it is clear that most of us are no longer looking for someone to speak into the void without considering the needs of those we are speaking to. We want to feel included, and I can understand that. I don’t expect this to become an “advice column”, but frankly it is up to the readers to decide what they value and it is for me to provide what you need to the best of my ability. One person can only do so much on their own.

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Finding Diamonds in the Rough

In a recent post, I made a point of wanting to balance my writing between criticizing what is wrong in the world with talking about more of the things that are already good and the things we can do to make the world a better place. That can be a very difficult thing to do in today’s social climate, especially with a media who seems bent on hyping up every story in an effort to drive ratings. Still, it is very possible to get a positive outlook on the future if we can find a way to sift through the garbage to find the treasures hidden beneath.

What makes it difficult is that it requires time and effort to scroll through a multitude of negative articles to find one or two that are uplifting. One of the reasons for this is that depending on what your moral code is, what is positive for one person might be negative for another. As a more conservative leaning individual watching a progressive dominated media landscape, it is partially my own bias that makes it hard for me to find positivity.

Still, with a bit of time and searching, it is possible to find information about great things happening in the world even in a heavily biased, agenda based mainstream. For example, Idaho recently passed a bill banning abortions after a heartbeat is detected, which is a great move toward preserving the lives of innocent babies. The Supreme Court is hearing a case that may finally settle the issue of concealed carry of firearms across the nation. It is now believed that nuclear fusion will be a viable energy source as early as 2030, which will radically shift the way we look at energy production.

Like anything worthwhile in the world, the good things require a bit of effort. It’s easy to just look at our newsfeeds and assume a negative attitude, but we need to remember that the information we are being fed has an agenda attached to it. It is not in our best interests to listen to anything without first considering where the information came from and how it applies to our own viewpoints. We are capable of deciding for ourselves how we feel about an issue.

This is important, because even if most of what we read is interpreted as negative, if we can shift our way of looking at these things to recognize that it likely isn’t nearly as bad as it is being portrayed to be, it becomes much easier to shift our overall opinion toward a more positive one. Perhaps it can be as simple as assuming that ten negative articles hold the same value as one positive one. If we treat a positivity news story like a precious jewel, it makes sifting through the rest of it much easier.

The great thing about our modern era of internet communication is that we are getting more and more tailored information delivered to us based on our browsing habits, so as we focus more on positive content, more of that content will be funneled in our direction. Clickbait is a thing in mainstream news as much as anywhere else, and avoiding those articles makes a small difference in the algorithms that decide what to recommend to you. Bypassing such stories and focusing more on positive, upbeat titles will slowly shift what information is being fed to you.

That said, we do have to be careful to not avoid negative information entirely. There are things out there happening in the world that we all need to keep an eye on. Tensions with China, the continued slavery of individuals around the world, piracy in various parts of the world, and continued poverty and starvation are all issues on which we need to stay informed. The critical part is taking in only the negative information that really matters and ignoring the fluff and the lies.

With a careful attitude that is skewed more toward seeing the positive in things, we can slowly push back against a greedy media that just wants you to mindlessly watch their content and fill their pockets. Just as in finding balance in our work, we need to find balance in our intake of information. For now, it will require more work than it really should, but the end result is worth it. Take a bit of time every day to place your own mental filter on the stories you see and start focusing more on the articles that make you feel uplifted.

What do you think about negative news media? How much of it is necessary, and how much of it is just trying desperately to grab your attention? Do you actively practice looking for positive stories? Leave a comment below linking a great news story that makes you feel hopeful about the future. Together we can shift the focus of the nation from pessimism back to the hopeful attitude we used to share.

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American Risk Aversion Is Crippling Society

Something changed in the last couple of generations. We look back on our history at times when we were far more willing to do dangerous things to accomplish what we knew was right. The Revolutionary War, the Civil War, both World Wars; our nation used to be filled to the brim with people willing to make any sacrifice necessary to stand up for good and fight back evil. This just doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

We have become risk averse in general. Most of us are far too dependent on others to make our lives happen. Our work is mostly employment by companies. We live in safe little communities with highly regulated buildings. Our roads are patrolled and our food inspected down to a microscopic level. The adventure that many of us used to seek is replaced by docile little vacations to highly developed, sanitized versions of what they used to be.

This isn’t to say that these measures aren’t good things on their own, but the combined need to remove danger from the equation of our lives is weakening our ability to steel ourselves against the problems of the world we can’t neatly tie up in the little boxes we create for our lives. There are forced in the world that will never bow down to our industriousness, and as we become more and more the robots of modern thought, the rest of the world feels the hunger for progress. Our position at the top is under constant threat, and we no longer have the teeth to fight back.

I can’t claim to be any better. My desire for most of my life is to somehow become self employed, but I’ve never been able to find the courage to jump into anything to see if I could make it work. The excuses were many and varied. I didn’t have enough money. My family needs a steady income. My skillset isn’t up to the task. It has been an endless stream of reasons why it could never work out.

Part of the problem is our public school system. We are brought up in this highly regimented environment that was developed to train factory workers to mindlessly sit and perform tasks for eight hours per day. Teachers try to spark our creativity, but in the end the system is just too tightly wound to allow enough wiggle room for young minds to really flourish. It is difficult to allow minds to wander when you’re tied to a schedule.

Another problem is more personal to me, and that is my eleven years of military service. Public school is certainly controlled, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the level of discipline imparted by serving in the armed forces. This isn’t a bad thing while you’re in, because the ability to follow orders and procedures typically keeps you alive in the most horrible situations imaginable. Unfortunately, this doesn’t translate well if your desire is to do something more adventurous once you’re out. It sets your mentality in the corporate mindset, which is hardly a free spirited environment.

Mostly, though, it is constantly being told that we need to protect people from their own problems. We have so many laws on the books that we somehow think are going to stop bad people from doing bad things. This is nice in theory, but the reality is that no matter how much we try to wrap probability around our fingers, eventually something bad is going to happen. We spend so much time trying to avoid danger that we miss out on the truly exciting things about life. Society in general is cultivating an attitude of fear instead of the adventure that most of us crave.

I’m not sure how I will personally get out of this mindset. The risk of writing this blog is a small step, I suppose, but unless it takes off in a way that I don’t see yet, it will be a supplementary thing. I have mentioned in the past that I yearn to cruise the world on a sailboat, and that would be the biggest adventure of my life, filled with danger and uncertainty and something amazing over every horizon. It simply requires the will to accept the bad that might come with the good.

As a nation, it is simply a matter of everyone working together to prop each other up. Too many people simply hear an idea that sounds crazy and say as much. If more people supported those who had a different way of thinking, we would be stronger as a society and more willing to do what needs doing. More people would be willing to take risks, and we could stand more firmly as a country against those ideas that threaten us because aren’t crippled by the fear of consequences. Adventure is as much about teamwork as it is about anything else.

How do you feel about taking risks? Have you been fearful of doing anything special because the price of failure seemed too high? What can you do today to further your own goals, or help someone take a step in the right direction? Risk is a part of life whether we like it or not, and you can’t control it. Any idea to the contrary is simply an illusion, so if we have to pay the price anyway, why not go for it?

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