Fight Negativity & Fuel Positivity Through These 6 Sources
"Garbage in; garbage out." Those were the words taught to me by my first youth pastor when I was still in middle school. The lesson he was trying to teach at the time was that we become what we take into our lives. For what it's worth, he's not the only person to hold that belief: both Charlie "Tremendous" Jones and Zig Ziglar famously taught this concept for years.
"You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read." - Charlie "Tremendous" Jones
"You are what you are and where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You can change what you are and where you are by changing what goes into your mind." - Zig Ziglar
Of course, mediums and methods of delivering information have evolved over the years, while some have remained the same. Here are five sources of "mind food" that, if used correctly, can amplify the positivity in your life while simultaneously remove the negativity.
Although it may seem antiquated these days, books are still a fantastic medium for gaining education, inspiration, and motivation. Whether in print or digital form, there are books for every topic, idea, or purpose. If you're new to reading and are looking for good books on personal development or leadership, I recommend the following for starters: Intentional Living - John C. Maxwell, Today Matters - John C. Maxwell, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey, One Question - Ken Coleman. As you're reading through these books, I highly recommend keeping a highlighter and notebook available!
For Christians, I highly recommend digging into scripture daily. The ESV Study Bible is an excellent resource for study.
When you're on the road, out for a run, or working in the office, reading books isn't really an option. That's where podcasts really come in handy! There are some great podcasts out there which are entirely focused on your personal development, motivation, and inspiration. Some of my personal favorites are 48 Days to the Work You Love, Parenting Great Kids, Read to Lead, EntreLeadership, The Ken Coleman Show, and The Ziglar Show.
Of all the sources listed here, community is the most important and likely the most effective. The people you surround yourself with can either lift you up or drag you down. There's no such thing as a neutral interaction. Here's the deal though, we all have two roles: to be an investment and to be an investor. What I mean by that, is that we all need to have people in our lives who are pouring into us so that we can, in turn, pour into others. Practically, this means we should both have mentors and be a mentor. If you're a Christian, find ways to serve your church community with your God-given gifts and resources. Aside from the church community, we can all find ways to serve our local communities with our gifts and abilities. Local not-for-profit organizations which focus on youth are great places to serve.
These days, anyone with an opinion, passion, or expertise (including us here at Equipping Teens) can write a blog to serve others. These online communities typically start discussions and foster conversation with like-minded or similarly-interested individuals. The digital communities aren't a substitute for face-to-face community, but are rather a supplement to our real-world interactions. A great website which I used to have as my home page was Success.com. I'm sure you can find any type of website or blog for whatever you're interested in.
CAUTION: When it comes to digital communities, they have the potential to be just as harmful as the could be beneficial. Ensure that you avoid any online community that is rampant with gossip, complaining, abuse, or other negative dialogue. Critique and critical opinion should always be welcome as long as it is accompanied by respect. Without love and respect, these communities may bring you down with the rest of them.
Let's face it, most people spend several hours each day watching TV, movies, YouTube videos, or videos from social media sites like Instagram & Facebook. For better or worse, it's just the world we live in. Overwhelmingly, the content from the video medium tends to be rife with potentially harmful, negative, or destructive content. For example, even well-inentioned news outlets like CNN or Fox News are known for fueling hate and discord amongst people. It may take some intentionality, but you can find positive video content through documentaries, biographical films, and all of the other sources listed above. You just have to make sure you're filtering everything through your values and beliefs.
Often, music is completely overlooked for it's ability to negatively influence it's listeners. Here's the deal, the next time you find yourself humming a catchy tune, singing along to today's top hits, or bobbing your head to some sick beats, stop for a moment to analyze the lyrics of the music. Too often, we let words into our heads that fuel anger, negativity and support ideas and concepts that run counter with our personal values and belief systems. Quite simply, if the music you're listening to isn't bringing you up, it's only dragging you down. Don't turn off your mind and neglect your values for the sake of a catchy melody.
"... whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." - Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus