Ignorance isn’t always bliss

Graduating from high school my girlfriend didn’t know who Ronald Reagan was. This was weird because he was the president of the United States at the time and near the end of his first term. Shocked, I asked her how it was possible she didn’t know this. Shrugging, she replied, “I don’t like the news, it makes me depressed.”

Lori Welbourne, On a Brighter Note

 

Graduating from high school my girlfriend didn’t know who Ronald Reagan was. This was weird because he was the president of the United States at the time and near the end of his first term. Shocked, I asked her how it was possible she didn’t know this. Shrugging, she replied, “I don’t like the news, it makes me depressed.”

I understood where she was coming from.

Watching the news for the first time as a child and learning about the terrible things that were happening all around the world to people I didn’t know, horrible visuals would keep me up at night and upset me to my very core. I would feel distressed about their pain and I’d feel guilty when I slipped out of that distress, as though I shouldn’t be happy unless everyone else could be as well.

Later on I cut myself off from the news too, not wanting to educate myself on all the stories that would tear me up, tricking myself into thinking that if I didn’t know about them, they wouldn’t actually be happening. Ignorance was bliss, as they say. But was it?

I grew out of those mindsets eventually. I learned how to read and watch the news and be aware of what was going on without taking the weight of the world on my shoulders. I’m not religious, but I learned to pray for those who were hurting and send them my positive energy and loving thoughts. I would also take the opportunity to recognize how minor my problems were in comparison to theirs and appreciate my life as the gift that it was. I felt that honoring what I had, was in fact, honoring them.

More than ever, I believe that’s true.

It’s so easy to lose ourselves in the day-to-day pressures of life and sink into depressions when we face adversity. I know, because I’ve experienced it. At times I still do.

But when we truly put things in perspective and remember how lucky we are compared to so many of our fellow human beings, it helps shake us back to reality and acknowledge the opportunity we all have to look at things in a positive way, with love in our hearts.

Feeling grateful and helping others are the two best cures for escaping our own negative funks when we go through them. And when we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed by all those in this world who need our help, we can remind ourselves of what Mother Teresa once said: “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

Hearing daily of the suffering from the natural disaster in Japan, as well as so many other tragic stories around the globe, I gain an intense appreciation of my own reality. Where self-pity defeats the human condition, gratitude elevates it, and loving life is what it’s all about.

 

Lori Welbourne is a syndicated newspaper columnist. You can contact her at loriwelbourne.com