The tea on positivity

AUDREY DAVENPORT | OPINION COLUMNIST | amdavenp@butler.edu

Sometimes when I’m supremely bored or procrastinating Moodle quizzes, I’ll read 1-star reviews on Yelp. They are, in my opinion, the funniest and perhaps most useful part of Yelp. But as I’m laughing, I can’t help but think — their negativity is addicting.

Even though we’re not personally involved with these internet conflicts, they are still examples of how our minds have adjusted to the overwhelmingly negative world that we participate and live in.

Media in general has a concerning affect on our mindsets. The number of likes that we get on Instagram or the picturesque posts that we see on our feed can — in a weird way — impact the way that we view ourselves. And if we keep seeing that over and over again, it can have a scary, negative pull on our mindsets.

News channels also contribute to the amount of negativity we see on a daily basis. I’m not saying the bad things in the world shouldn’t be acknowledged because, if they weren’t, we’d all have a huge empathy-shaped hole in our hearts. It’s just that the news lacks a healthy balance between the uplifting and the demoralizing.

A simple search for “good news stories” delivers a hoard of positivity — puppies being adopted, boy scouts helping the elderly and more. There are whole websites fully dedicated to positive news, but since these stories are not shoved in our faces, the negativity takes precedence over how we want to feel.

Sophomore economics major Aaron VanOirschot said he thinks the mainstream news functions as a source of distraction for the audience from their daily lives rather than the audience utilizing it for its purpose of being informative.

“Most people who watch the news in my opinion don’t then go out and try and do something about what they just saw,” VanOirschot said. “It’s basically entertainment.”

There’s a disconnect between what we see and the emotions we feel, showing how the constant flow of negativity and the mentality that pain is humorous desensitizes us to the to the negativity surrounding us every day.

Often times, this disconnect is most obvious when we watch how bad things affect other people, and we don’t feel the negative emotions they might have felt. We become so removed from situations like this; we no longer let the negative things affect us.

As students, we also subject ourselves to the potential for everything we encounter to be seen as a negative. We hold ourselves to a seemingly impossible standard, and when we don’t attain it, we beat ourselves up.

First-year pharmacy student Candice Wyatt said she thinks coming to college has affected the self proclaimed positive mindset she has.

“With classes, you get your first bad grade back and it sucks, but you have to think, ‘How can I do better next time?’” Wyatt said. “College gives you more opportunities to take a bad situation and make it better.”

College is a major buzzkill. Staying up until 2 a.m. studying for an exam on information that you will probably never use again is completely discouraging. And the morning after, you’re groggy and pissed because you didn’t sleep well — which can really take a toll on your mental state.

Butler University’s Be Well program is a step in the right direction, encouraging students to be aware of every aspect of their lives, including their mental wellness. Butler offers resources for students as well as faculty to be there as a helping hand if they feel as though something’s not quite right.

But negativity has become such a massive part of our everyday lives, that oftentimes it is even hard to recognize it in ourselves. You may not even realize you said something harmful about yourself or you’ve been bringing yourself down.

This contributes to the shock we experience when we see something good happening. People often say their “faith in humanity was restored” when they see people being kind. But shouldn’t that be normal?

The point is maintaining a positive mindset in our world right now is extremely arduous, and it takes work to shift from the negative thoughts into a more positive energy.

Sophomore pharmacy student Jaclyn Collier thinks having positive thoughts, albeit extremely beneficial, is equally as difficult.

“It takes a lot of willpower to do that, and that’s super hard to do,” Collier said. “It’s a fight against yourself.”

The road to a positive mindset all starts with you recognizing the change that needs to happen. If you catch yourself tearing yourself down with your thoughts or thinking negatively about a certain situation, make it a point to find even just a few good things. It’s not easy, especially when faced with a situation that really truly is the WOAT.

We need to be willing to do the work it takes to get ourselves out of the hole we’ve dug. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to start to change the outlook of the world. If we don’t start now, bad things will become our everyday lives, and the good will cease to exist.

Starting the conversation about having a positive mindset is a start, even if that conversation is just with yourself. Taking a couple minutes to really think about how you approach situations and how that can affect the rest of your day can really change your mentality for the better.

Try and see negative situations as something to learn from and not let them make you feel badly. It’s easy to have one negative thought, and then another and another. But you have to stop and take a moment to acknowledge the bad in the situation and then seek out the good.

Constantly being positive is impossible; we have to acknowledge that. But taking the steps towards maintaining a healthy mindset will help you get there.

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