“It seems like we are surrounded by negativity,” Jay Shetty rightly observes.
With overwhelming access to information and a constant bombardment of details surrounding the most up to the minute tragedy, it is easy to get stuck in a negative space. This is not a healthy or helpful place to live, Shetty argues.
While it seems impossible to escape the negativity that surrounds us, in this episode Shetty walks through eight steps every person can take to lighten the negative load and retrain the brain to seek out the positive.
This is not about acting from a place of denial, explains Shetty. It is about learning how to deal with hard things from a healthier perspective, one that is based on facts and wisdom, not on confusion and fear.
Techniques and Strategies For Freedom and Empowerment
“I've built these strategies, these techniques and these tools that still allow me to function effectively in the world,” Jay Shetty explains. “They allow me to be a realist, they allow me to be in touch and in connection with what is going on. But these tools and strategies that I'm going to share with you in this podcast also allow me to be free. They allow me to think, they allow me to dream, and they allow me to continue to try and make an impact in the world.”
“I know that each and every one of you listening right now is not just wanting to be a passenger in the world,” Shetty continues. “You want to live your purpose in the world and you want to make a difference. You want to make an impact. I want to help you do that. I want to serve you and support you in a way that you're not limited. You're not held back by negativity, but you're powered and empowered to make a difference.”
Shetty believes this empowerment starts out with a proper frame of reference. When it comes to the media, it’s helpful to recognize that the media is just looking for what sells.
“In the newsroom there is a saying, ‘If it bleeds, it reads. If it bleeds, it leads,’” says Shetty. “If there's a news story that is harsh, tough, challenging, conflict, and painful, people read it more. It leads in the rankings more.”
Given this information, one must be aware that the negative bent exists, but that it’s not the full story. Jay Shetty provides helpful balance from the book, Factfulness by Hans Rosling.1
In the book, Rosling highlights theories or questions people often worry over and unpacks both the facts and the fear behind them. Questions such as:
- Are more people living in poverty now than 20 years ago? and
- Has the average life expectancy risen or fallen?
The findings were enlightening. “Most people,” Rosling argues, “feel like situations these days are more dire, when in fact, the opposite is true.”
In sharing this information, Jay Shetty is not passing over the real issues that are plaguing the world. He is simply urging people to take a step back from such a negative and fearful way of thinking.
The Big Eight
“I want to share with you eight strategies and techniques to deal with negativity in the news and reduce stress in your life,” Jay Shetty says. First up, feeling, not thinking.
Feeling Not Thinking
“Focusing on something negative is something that we feel, whereas when we read something positive, it's something that we think. It's something that you know,” Jay Shetty explains.
It is easier to get swept up in emotions in a negative space because we feel negative emotions or experiences much more. It takes more work to feel something positive on an emotional level and not just know it.
To help with this, Shetty encourages practicing gratitude.
“Gratitude is allowing you to deeply feel something positive in your life. If you get good news and you don't feel grateful for it, it doesn't really leave a lasting impression in your life. It's so important to deeply process and immerse in those wins and those successes that come into our life,” he encourages.
Read the Positive, Amplify the Good
“So many of us read the good news, and we read the bad news. We share the bad news, but we hold on to the good news,” Jay Shetty claims. “It's so important to expose your mind to good news stories as well, to read about the positive and powerful things that are happening in the world. Because when you do that, it also gives you more hope, belief and faith.”
This doesn’t have to be groundbreaking, and the change most likely won’t happen overnight. Choose every day what to focus on and what to share with others.
“If you're benefiting from something, if you're growing from something, a podcast, a book, a call, a workshop, a charity, a community, a group of people…whatever it is, share that. Share so that more people can get involved and be a part of that transformation” Shetty urges.
Be Selective About the Reporting you Consume
Is it necessary?
Is it useful?
Is it helpful to you?
Jay Shetty believes that asking these three questions before consuming information will drastically cut down on the unnecessary noise and negativity.
“You will find that when you ask this question, most of the news is not necessarily useful or helpful to you. It's not really making a difference in your personal life, yet we glue to it like it's going to transform our lives,” Shetty says. Using those questions as a guide helps cut out the fluff.
Don't Be Surprised by Bad News
Jay Shetty elaborates on Hans Rosling’s suggestion here. “This doesn't mean you become immune to bad news,” he explains. “That isn't the point. We don't want an apathetic society or community that doesn't care and doesn't feel compassion.”
The point is to develop awareness that does not get swept up in feeling and emotion.
“Don’t get surprised by it,” Shetty challenges. “Don’t get swept up in it, but allow yourself to process it.”
Don't Judge Before Researching and Reading
Headlines are meant to be enticing, not the entirety. How often is a conclusion drawn from one or two brilliantly crafted sentences? Jay Shetty believes that one of the biggest mistakes we make is believing the headline and not doing further research.
“You can't just make a negative judgment based on something without reading about it, and without researching,” Shetty warns. “When you do [the research], you start expanding your mind. You start to expand your thoughts and your abilities. You start thinking and approaching tasks in different ways.”
Going deeper and getting more information helps slow the spread of misinformation.
Don't Make a Final Conclusion Without All of the Facts
“When your emotions are based on facts, they can't control you,” says Jay Shetty. “When your emotions are based on fiction, they control you. They control you because now you become a fiction writer and your emotions start painting these vivid pictures of how bad everything is.” He believes facts help temper that panic.
“As E.O. Wilson said, ‘We're drowning in information, but starving for wisdom.’ Wisdom is getting better at finding facts, and seeing what the truth is,” says Shetty.
What's on Your News Feed is Feeding Your Mind
What sets the tone of your day? What is the first information to hit your brain as you wake? Negativity is contagious, Jay Shetty reminds listeners.
“Limit your opportunities to see negativity from the first thing in the morning, because guess what? It's like a downward cycle,” Shetty says. “Once you've seen one negative thing, you spot the next negative thing, you spot the next negative thing and then you're in a negative train.”
He urges you to make a conscious effort to focus on the positive when setting the tone for the day. Train the brain to look for the good.
Find a Way to Get Your News
Jay Shetty urges listeners to be intentional about where they get their news.
“Follow the right places, listen to the right podcasts, have your feed set up so you only come across the places that you trust and the things that you want,” he says. “You don't just want to allow yourself to be bombarded from anywhere all the time. You want to make it focused. You want to be exposed to what you choose.”
“The reason I did this podcast is I just don't want any of you to believe that there isn't hope,” Jay Shetty says. “I don't want any of you to believe that we can’t change the world. I don't want any of you to believe that we should all give in, we should just stop trying. I just don't want you to believe that because it's just not true.”
“Humans being activated around purpose and mission is the most powerful thing that can happen,” Jay Shetty encourages. “So if that's the most powerful thing that can happen, that is amazing, right? If the only thing that's happening is all of us are getting more together and unified and working together. Then that's all we need.”
Be mindful of what you take in. Stick to facts. Focus on the good. Be the change
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “8 Ways to Deal With Negativity: News, Social Media, People & Reduce Stress In Your Life” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out his website at jayshetty.me.