So let’s just say my dad is an information “junkie”. He is a retired College teacher, an engineer, and an all-around inquisitive guy. When my brother and I were kids there was a rule that my dad desperately tried to instill. For every half hour of “crap tv” (as he called it) we had to watch half hour of something to educate our brains. That meant watching some science or math show (usually geared for kids – although in the 70’s there wasn’t as much… and the acting wasn’t great ;). He loved public television, our provincial tv station TVO and the CBC. Then when cable offered whole channels about science, technology and history… it was game on! He was probably one of the first people to buy a VCR – this is back when the remote was attached by a cord!! He had tapes labelled with masking tape and he scribbled on them till only he could decipher what was really on there. Flash forward to today, he loves his digital recorder, he doesn’t have to manually remove commercials and can preview and zip through more efficiently to maximize his tv time to ensure optimal information and learning. That way he has more time for his other way of getting the info into his brain… reading… but that’s a blog for another day!
My dad’s other important area to be informed in when not learning all things math and science is… drum roll please… World News. Ah, yes all young children and teenagers favourite past time, watching the news. We had to listen to the radio news with the added bonus of setting our watches to the BEEEEEEPPPPPP! at exactly 1 pm Eastern Standard Time. Cause that’s awesome, wouldn’t want my watch to be slow or worse fast. And then, of course, there was the dinnertime hour of news show after news show. Living in a Canadian border city we were a privileged people, we didn’t just have 2 channels (remember this is the 70’s and before cable) we had access to additional 6 channels from our American friends across the river. Well some channels came in great others required the addition of strategically placed aluminium foil on the antennae and at times the order of “everyone just sit still and don’t move”. Ahhhh, good times. Now the news back then wasn’t so sprinkled with trivial stuff, it was real reporting and some of it was really gritty. I wonder if watching scenes from war-torn countries, starving children, and natural disasters had anything to do with my gut stress? In any case, it was a sacrifice we were willing to make as a family to be an educated part of society. Over the years there seemed to be less and less “happy news” and more and more of well… just a crappy world. Maybe it was also because I was older and it seemed like some things went on forever. “dad, aren’t these the same people that were fighting X Country a few years back?” “yeah and they are still fighting with them, but now other countries are fighting”… and on and on.
When I eventually moved out I continued to watch the news and cable news shows. But again, it never seemed to end. Then there were the court battle shows, unsolved crime shows, the tv drama crime shows… it seemed like more channels just seemed to offer more and more sadness, hatred and really just unthinkable things humans were doing to each other, their animal friends and the planet itself. Really depressing. I found I watched more and more tv like silly sitcoms and HGTV in order to have my brain decompress from all the negativity. It just needed a break, because sure enough, every day there was more and more of all the crap going on in the world.
Eventually, I just had to stop watching the news. I had kids now and I didn’t want to be depressed and sad about things I didn’t think I could make a change in the world about. When I watched tv I chose to watch shows that would inspire, educate or make me laugh!
I felt really disappointed in some of my fellow humans and just jaw-dropping shock with my brain not being able to process their thoughts or actions. I chose to learn more about my love of gardening. Growing plants and flowers made me happy and seemed to brighten the planet a bit. I chose to learn and make things… creating something with your hands or finding a solution to a problem gives me great satisfaction.
Now some people are like my dad, they can take it all in and somehow process it all. Others will “put their heads in the sand” and pretend it doesn’t happen or exist and live life in a bubble. Then there are those like me, taking it in, but desperately trying to balance it all with some “good thoughts” and trying to add some positive-ness to the world. Then there is the last group in which they are utterly consumed by the negativity and knowingly or unknowingly are perpetuating it all with negative emotions, negative behaviours, etc. These are the people that seem to hate their jobs, but continue to work at the same place for years. The people that seem to always be complaining about their lives and blaming it on someone else. Now I know we all can get in the dumps or have a period of one’s own life that is not going well, but most of us can eventually move forward. Some people can’t. They will hold a grudge forever, they will be that maniac driver, the person complaining at a store (for apparently nothing) and demanding to see the store manager. Or they are the friend that is happy one minute and sad the next. Maybe joking around at school or work, but going home to be sad and depressed.
I feel the world as a whole is in a sort of vicious circle. The horrible things happening around the globe are causing more and more to be in a negative state, which causes more negative things and on and on. I have a few ideas that might be perpetuating it. The crappy food, the mind-numbing tv… to name just a few. But when your life is in a state you don’t want it to be in, but you’re exhausted, run down (from stress and a poor diet) coming home and “vegging out” totally makes sense. Like I said, I just want a laugh some days and not strain my brain to think about things I might not want to think about.
But changing a job or even changing your diet might be too big a step at first. It seems like a mountain and you are not a great climber or worse, afraid of heights! Moving out of your comfort zone and job searching or looking into ways to fix your eating habits are not “step 1” for most of us. It wasn’t for me… I mostly have to be “shoved by the universe” into any big changes in my life.
So how do I make the little changes, the things that I know I can do? I start with a change of view, a change of perspective. In the case of our negative, sad and depressing world I chose to brighten my world with nature. Plus digging in the soil like a kid helped bring down the stress too! But one of the other things I’ve done for a good part of my life was to try and surround myself with happy people. Even when the actual people in my life were maybe sad and depressed, I would (and still do) surround myself with happy strangers. You might say “sure but I go out in public and everyone looks pissed off or grumpy”. Well, there are some basic science experiments that say if you smile at someone, they usually will smile back. I also found that if you try to connect with say someone in line at the grocery store just small talk they usually brighten up. It’s like everyone is in this zombie state sometimes. (Worried about zombies no they’re not coming we are just turning into them!!) I’m always overly pleasant to the cashiers and they too usually brighten up and start off a bit cheerier with the person behind. So this might all sound “goody-goody” to you, but I tell you what I don’t just do it for them… I do it for myself too. I find that if a day of errands I too am in a “zombie” state and just say the bare minimum to people and get ticked if someone cuts me off. I ultimately come home in a worse state then I left. However, if I act happy, talk happy to others and give the @ss in the car that just swerved in my lane the benefit of the doubt. “Well, kids it seems that other driver is late for a hospital appointment to sew back on his right eye… and of course, that is why he didn’t see us and is driving a bit dangerous” (I find sarcasm works wonders 😉 I end up coming home and feel a bit lighter, more open and less crabby with the kids. It’s contagious too of course because then everyone else in the house feels it too.
Of course, not everyone is a zombie and not everyone is pissed off, but it seems some days it’s harder and harder to find these people. But if you just open yourself up a bit I find that these people just seem to show up in your life. Happy strangers crossing the paths of other happy strangers. Here’s an example. So we have this one Houdini of a dog. I mean this dog is a thinker, she has a big dog run (110ft x 100ft) and it’s got trees, shrubs and squirrels and another furry friend to wrestle with. But lately we have had a lot of rain and so the digging has begun again. She seems to love to find a way out, “push this log, lean on the gate like this… and squeeze and squeeze and… I’m out!!!” She will go for a little run and be back usually within the hour. We would love to fence off more of our property so both dogs can run and explore more, but it’s not in the budget at the moment. So for now its twice daily walks and a huge run. But the other day she got out and she must have tried the neighbour a few doors down (they made the mistake of letting her in their home – now friends for life!!) but they weren’t home. I guess she thought maybe she would go a bit further, but a storm blew in during her expedition and perhaps the rain made it more difficult to find her way back. Then her greatest fear… lightning and thunder!! From what her rescuer said they saw her running, stopped, open the car door and IN SHE HOPPED!!
Nice to know eh? First warm, dry car… “hello new owner!!”
Just so happens that MY dog picked the car of a local rescue agency and she was headed to a friends place further down our road – again with the rescue agency. The local animal shelter was closed so they couldn’t get her chip scanned and because our dogs got tangled in a scary deathmatch a year ago we don’t leave their collars on when they are in the run. So the two woman had no idea who her lost owners were or anything about our little Houdini. Luckily the group has an active FB page and we have a huge dog lover in our Homeschool group… long story short, we got our dog back. When Stef went to pick her up from the woman’s house he found our dog and a bunch of rescued animals! Some 35+ year old horses, some dogs born with genetic issues, a few peacocks and a whole lot of love from a sweet older woman. Apparently, she takes in those animals which others don’t want. Funny thing her animals were all healthy and happy and living well into years that the doctors etc. said they wouldn’t last! We are hoping to take some of the older kids back to give her a hand. It would be a great experience for them to see how just one person can help so many, by just giving another being the basics… love, shelter and food.
It’s true, there really are good people in the world… you just have to stop and recognize them.