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What’s your Focus?

Don’t you get discouraged when the headlines scream of war, deaths, accidents, hostility? I know there’s a lot going on that we can be upset about. But we need to also focus on good news. estimates that 77% of Americans have a social media presence of one sort or another. A new study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology followed 143 students from the University of Pennsylvania who were divided into two groups. One continued their pattern of interacting on social media. The other was reduced to 30 minutes a day, 10 minutes each on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.

The results were clear. The group that reduced their activity on social media had better mental health outcomes.

“What we found overall is that if you use less social media, you are actually less depressed and less lonely, meaning that the decreased social media use is what causes that qualitative shift in your well-being,” said Jordyn Young, a co-author of the paper and a senior at the University of Pennsylvania.

The authors of the study say there isn’t yet enough data to say everyone should cut down on their social media presence; however, the data clearly suggests that extended time on social media can cause increased depression and loneliness.

When we constantly go to our feeds, we tend to compare, to think “if only” and to deal with FOMO–Fear of Missing Out! How does my life compare with the pretty pictures on Facebook or Snapchat? Because, face it, most of us don’t post downers.

We post highlights–vacation shots, the new garden we planted, a cute pet, house upgrades, loving times with family and friends. Sure, those are part of our lives–but they are not the whole. The person who had a lovely vacation may come home to care for a loved one who is disabled. The beautiful home upgrades may come with a cost that pressures the family to cut back in other areas. The loving times with family and friends are precious – but do we talk about the times we disagree, see things differently?

If seen too consistently, watching the news can have a similar effect. One can become depressed about the war in Ukraine and its effect on people we care about, or even simply about a country that has been attacked without provocation.

On April 6, 2022, Healthline stated “A steady stream of disheartening news can alter your perception of the world, causing you to lack motivation and view the world with a sense of cynicism and hopelessness. Negative news has the potential to exacerbate your personal anxieties and the stressful situations occurring in your own life.”

So let me share some GOOD news, the stories we don’t read about often enough.

Jim Harbaugh, head coach of the Michigan Wolverines, was recently interviewed about his pro-life stance by ESPN. Here’s what he said:

The interviewer then asks, “What would you do if a player or a female staff member of the Michigan football team came to you and said, ‘Coach, I respectfully disagree with your stance. Can we discuss it?”

“I’ve told [them] the same thing I tell my kids, boys, the girls, same thing I tell our players, our staff members. I encourage them if they have a pregnancy that wasn’t planned, to go through with it.”

“Let that unborn child be bornand if at that time, you don’t feel like you can care for it, you don’t have the means or the wherewithal, then Sarah and I will take that baby.

ESPN Interview

I am touched by Harbaugh’s commitment. Whatever your position on abortion, this man has committed, not just to a cause, but to raising children if their parents are unable to do so. I know this is cliche, but he’s put his money where his mouth is.

Another story touched me. A young man and his nephew shopped for groceries. The nephew noticed an elderly gentleman who had a hard time reaching items because of his extreme bent frame. It was hard for him to look up. The nephew said, “Can I go help him?” After receiving the ok, he approached the man. “Can I help you find things, sir?” “Thank you kindly, young man. That would be wonderful.” As his uncle shopped for their needs, his nephew ran around the store, picking things up for the elderly gentleman, having a ball.

When he had all he needed, the older man said this was the first time in fourteen years someone had offered to help him! Wouldn’t you be proud of that nephew? I sure would.

And when Don and I flew home from Wichita last Monday, a Hispanic man sat next to me, wearing a mask. I wasn’t sure if he’d want to converse, but introduced ourselves and began to talk with him. We had a most pleasant conversation. Near the end of the flight I was concerned that we might not make our transfer, since our flight had been delayed out of Wichita. My brother, Bob, was seated in the back of the plane.

I called over an air hostess and explained my concern, asking if there was some way Bob could get off the plane before others in order to make our connection. Immediately Jose spoke up. “I have more time than you do. I’ll trade with him.” And he did, so Bob, Don and I were all in a row near the front of the airplane.

Later, as we stood outside a restroom, Jose walked by.

“Will you make your flight?”

“Jose, I had the wrong time zone in my mind and we’re fine. But thank you so very much for your kindness.”

Another of those lovely moments of kindness and graciousness that we don’t hear about often enough.

So this week, let’s focus on ways we can extend kindness, both to those we love and know, and to strangers, whether it’s in the grocery line, with someone wanting to make a lane change, or someone in need of a helping hand to reach what they need on the shelves.

And let’s remember and think on the good things around us, rather than focusing on the negative. The Apostle Paul challenges us to focus on what is good.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 1:8, ESV

How have you found focusing on what is true and good helps you deal with the stresses of your life?

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