Getting Rid of Negativity and Focusing on the Positive

I live in West Texas. Cotton fields, a few mesquite trees (if you’re lucky) and tumbleweeds are the general landscape around here. In the spring, we get sandstorms so bad that the sky turns red, and during a cold streak in the winter we can get wind chills in the negatives.

We also boast the most beautiful fall season you could hope to find, and (since there are no hills or trees to obstruct the view) sunsets that look as if they were painted by God Himself.

Most people grow up here trying to figure out how they can get out, and once they do they spend the rest of their life trying to figure out how to get back. In fact, it is such a common occurrence that there is actually a song about it, “I thought happiness was Lubbock Texas in my rear view mirror, but now happiness is Lubbock Texas growing nearer and nearer.” A little cheesy, but kind of catchy too 🙂

Personally, I LOVE Lubbock. I think it’s the perfect blend of small-town meets big city. Although most who come from either a small town or a big city would disagree!

One of my favorite things about living in Lubbock is our neighborhood. In the midst of red dirt fields and general lack of vegetation its tree-lined streets and perfectly manicured lawns are like a little oasis. Rob and I had this neighborhood on our dream board for years, and we put my house on the market the day we returned from our honeymoon so we could move out here. My parents live here to, as does my Nana. We are each a few blocks away from each other, but close enough to meet for lunch at the pool, and to spontaneously run into each other at the neighborhood mail boxes.

Our neighborhood is full of new homes built with a classic architecture. Big font porches, tree-lined streets and a park on just about every block. We have a swimming pool, a coffee shop and, at Christmas, we sponsor carriage rides that take residents and visitors up and down the streets to look at all the beautiful lights. In the summer you can hardly go a day without passing by some kid’s lemonade stand, and we have movies in the park where all the neighbors bring their lawn chairs and popcorn. I love everything about our neighborhood… everything except our neighborhood Facebook page.

It’s a good thing I didn’t know about this page before we moved out here, or I might have reconsidered the decision. What is it about a social media platform that turns otherwise sane individuals into raving crazy people? For as long as we have lived here we have seen the same negative issues be hashed over again and again and again… gaining more negativity and hateful insults with each passing occurrence.

I kid you not, issues as simple as locking your vehicle at night (especially if you plan to leave your iPad on the console) have escalated to calls for a a nightly armed patrol of the neighborhood men-folk. Dog poop in the grass has turned into personal threats against neighbors and resulted in tattle-tale posts that read, “To the unnamed individual with the black poodle, I saw out my window that your dog pooped and you did not pick it up.”

Honestly, the absurdity of it all has become almost humorous! What’s funny, is I have yet to meet a neighbor I did not like. Every single person we’ve met has gone out of their way to be welcoming and friendly! I guess there is just something about the internet that makes some people forget not only their manners, but often their human decency.

It became so bad for a while that Rob and I were seriously discussing the idea of putting our house on the market and moving. Where? Anywhere that does NOT have a neighborhood Facebook page! As appealing as the thought was, it made me sad to think about. To live in this neighborhood had been on our dream board for SO long — I wanted to love it here, because I had loved living here LONG before we ever even moved in!

A few months ago Rob and I were out walking one of the dogs, enjoying a beautiful stroll through the neighborhood on our way to and from the mailboxes. We had waved at neighbors driving by, stopped and talked to a few who had been in their yards, and even ran into my brother and sister while we were out and about. As I sat down on our huge front porch I began doing some thinking — there was nothing wrong with this neighborhood! It was as beautiful, as tranquil, as wonderful as it had always been. In fact, it was better… because it now had a house in it that we called our own. So what was the problem?

I realized, as someone who spends much of the day on the computer, that I had allowed myself to be sucked into the “Facebook drama” of the neighborhood. I had notifications set up to come to my Inbox, my News Feed AND my cell phone. Although this was great whenever a neighborhood event or party was being announced, it was basically INVITING the negativity into my life. I quickly realized I was seeing my neighbors names on my news feed more often than on the beautiful tree-lined sidewalks. Instead of fun conversations at the latest pot luck dinner, I was dwelling on the latest of the nasty comments. I decided then and there to put a stop to it!

I turned off all of the notifications from our neighborhood group and resolved to break the habit of constantly checking in on all the posts and comments. It took some time but I can now honestly say I check our page about once a week… and I only read the comments on posts I feel may be directly relevant to us (which, it turns out, are few and far between). I also made it a habit to spend more time outside… enjoying the beauty of the neighborhood and appreciating it for all the wonderful qualities that made us want to live here in the first place.

As it turns out, we don’t dislike our neighborhood at all. We love the houses, the streets, the activities and we especially love our neighbors. When we chose to take our focus OFF the negative and to put more emphasis on the positive, our entire perception changed. Now, instead of moving, we are working with an architect on plans to add on to our home… making extra room for our future children who we know will love this neighborhood as much as we do!

Nothing changed. In the midst of all the negativity the reasons we moved to this neighborhood were still as real as ever. And now, in the midst of our new-found love for our neighborhood, the negativity on the Facebook page still rages on as strong as it ever has. The only difference is me. I took control in the only way I knew how — by purposely removing the negativity from my daily routine.

So the point of this long, personal story is this — the next time you are having a problem with something in your life, think about steps you can take to change your perception of the situation. Sometimes, the best solution is to remove yourself from it completely. Other times though, you may find that changing your focus (and maybe getting rid of those notifications) can make all the difference in the world!

Choose positivity. Get rid of all the negative junk and enjoy the feeling of peace and happiness it will bring!

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