One of the great ironies of modern mass communication is that while it enables us to stay in contact with friends and loved ones around the world, it also gives other people the opportunity to rob us of our happiness… simply by flooding us with negativity. It’s great that we can connect with more people than ever before, but it also means that we deal with more and more people whose idea of fun is to shit on our front step.
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The current election is a great example of just how much social media can clog our emotional bandwidth – the divisiveness and vitriol that has come to define the election is emotionally exhausting. Browsing Facebook and dealing with the people screaming at one another about Trump or Hillary or Bernie or Jill Stein or whomever can leave you feeling drained and miserable, even if it’s not directed at you.
Even television can be another source of inadvertent misery or dissatisfaction. Most of the medium, after all, is designed to sell you something. And the best way to sell you something? Tell you – even in subliminal ways – that you shouldn’t be happy because you don’t have X. Your life is empty and miserable because you don’t do Y or you don’t look like Z.
This is why one of the most important things you can do to increase your own happiness is to limit the negativity that you expose yourself to. While it’s trendy to yell about “safe spaces” and it’s unrealistic to expect all of life to be unicorns, rainbows and unicorns farting rainbows, that doesn’t mean that you need to invite unnecessary misery into your life. Sometimes taking a break from the people hurling abuse your way in the name of “discourse” is what lets you keep you keep your sanity intact and not clog up what’s left of your emotional circuits with misery.
Whether it means taking a social media break, cutting toxic friends out of your life or taking a long hard look at the subreddits and forums you spend time on, cutting down on the amount of vitriol, anger and bile you get exposed to daily increases your capacity to find happiness and joy, simply by freeing up your emotional bandwidth.