2018 was an enormous year. A lot happened in my life, my family and friends’ lives and around the world. Amazing and wonderful things happened as well as sad and upsetting things. And with all these things that have happened, I have really come to realise how important our mindset, and more specifically, a positive mindset is.
Social media and the media in general make it easy to share the good, bad and ugly of what goes on. I used to have news apps on my phone with the headlines set to push notifications. At least once an hour, a headline would pop up on my phone and I would be informed of something that has happened here in New Zealand or internationally.
It made sense to me at the time I downloaded the apps that I should stay informed. I’m a law and geography student so world events matter to me and my studies. It means I can take part in conversations about current affairs and I can develop an opinion or point of view on the matters.
However, over the past year, I noticed that the headlines were increasingly negative. More often than not, the news was bad news - another fatal car accident, another murder, another anxious story about war and politics and America, Russia and China.
The articles about murders surprised me because while I was well aware they occurred in New Zealand, they seemed to be happening a lot more. The deaths and injuries caused by car accidents made me sad and wonder just why people aren’t driving more responsibly on roads.
The negative effect
The compounding effect of these cumulative, negative headlines often affected my mood and mindset. I felt dismayed about the state of the world I lived in.
Social media is wonderful for keeping in contact with loved ones and connecting with like-minded people. However, often social media features commentaries on news events and at times this can contribute to negativity surrounding current affairs.
The news media does help us stay informed, but, like others before me have questioned, how accurate is the news that is published? Are all the facts correct? Many articles are published with only a couple of facts, and the rest is speculation. It is my opinion that these kinds of articles can be dangerous, leading to anxiety and hopelessness about the world.
About a month ago, I decided it was time to delete my news apps. It was time to take action against these negative influences and silence the constant bombardment of bad news. Of course I still want to be informed, but over summer it didn’t seem right to be constantly switched on and receiving partial information about upsetting events.
It is important to be aware of our thoughts and our mindset and the various things that influence them. Recognising how we feel and what we are thinking is key and locating the source of negative influence is crucial in creating or maintaining a positive mindset.
Thankfully for us as followers of Jesus, we can find daily encouragement in the bible to focus our hearts and minds on good things. Paul instructs us to set our hearts and minds on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians chapter 3, verses 1-2).
We are encouraged not to dwell on things of this world, but to look to God to fill our hearts and minds with what is right and good. This can be our motivation towards having positive influences and a healthy mindset.
This encouragement can also be found in Philippians. Here, Paul is again encouraging the church to think about true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy things (Philippians chapter 4, verse 8). There truly are a lot of good things to focus on.
The passage surrounding this verse is all about the peace of God that we can each receive. This passage is so good as it encourages us to recognise God’s high position over everything and that we should focus on the positives.
It is important to acknowledge and deal with the bad news of this world. But we ought to be careful to not let the good news of Jesus and the peace and freedom we receive from him be forgotten in the midst of negatives.
Jesus said he came so we could have life to the fullest, and by fixing our eyes on him and our minds on pure, right and lovely things, we will be on the right path towards a full life with Jesus.
Rebecca Hoverd studies law and geography at The University of Auckland and loves writing as a way to communicate with God and to unpack her thoughts. She loves coffee, conversations, and would love to hear your feedback at email@example.com.