Reality Check: Choosing Your Lens

When we try on different glasses, it’s clear that the lens we use makes a huge difference in what we see. Some lenses make everything clearer; others muddy and distort.
In these troubled times, some are looking through an exclusively negative lens. For example, a young man feels anxious all the time. A middle-aged woman feels resentful because she is not allowed to travel. An older gentleman feels isolated because he can’t attend the social outings he enjoyed so much.
Are these feelings widespread? Or is it just these three people?
You can decide for yourself whether these are anomalies or common occurrences.
It’s easy to understand why negative feelings could be common. There’s so much bad news, ongoing restrictions, and little assurance of a happy ending in sight.
However, we can choose to look at current events through a completely different lens; a positive one. I’ll offer a few examples.
First, a vaccine for the current virus was not only developed, but has become widely available in many countries in an incredibly short period of time. Whether or not you choose to get a vaccination, take a moment to think about this technological development. A mind-bogglingly complex product has been created, manufactured and distributed. It’s remarkable.
Something else I see with my positive lens is that people now have a new or renewed appreciation for interactions that we used to take for granted. In the “old” days (two years ago) getting together sometimes felt like a bother; not worth the effort. Now, even mundane interactions are special, and I think may be more valued even when they become regular again. We used to take them for granted. Not anymore.
Another positive is a renewed appreciation for nature and fresh air. Again, it’s something that we would take for granted. Why bother going for a walk? It may have felt like a nuisance to walk the dog. Now, it’s a glorious reason to be outside in the clean air taking in the gift of sunshine.
Plenty of people have developed or renewed interest in creative activities: crafts, puzzles, reading, artwork. Creativity is good for both mind and body.
Mind you, I’m not suggesting that a positive lens offers a more accurate view of reality than a negative lens. In reality, both positives and negatives exist. However, many influences lead us toward using a negative lens: incessant news, social media, even our everyday conversations.
My suggestion is that it’s helpful to deliberately choose our lens rather than allowing someone else—the media or other influences—to choose our lens for us.
You may choose the positive one that I’m suggesting here, where you look for positive effects that you might otherwise ignore. Or you may choose a negative lens where you perceive the world going to a fiery place in a handbasket. You could even switch back and forth.
The act of choosing your lens may give you a better sense of control, and that, I think, is more satisfying than drifting along feeling no control at all.
Something that could be fun to try with your friends is to come up with any positive effects you’ve seen from this long disruption. You may be surprised what you think of!
Do you think it’s useful to look for positive effects? Or is that being unrealistic?

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