It doesn’t take much to impact your attitude: a picture here, a post there…suddenly you have “Facebook Depression” – everyone’s life is better than yours, their children are more successful than yours, they seem to have everything. The term was first coined when a series of studies identified a link between social media and negative feelings. A host of studies found that social media use consistently generated negative feelings and a decline in happiness when used very frequently (more than the average 30 times per week). Recently the rise of political negativism and personal bashing has become rampant to the point where I know several people who have decided to take a break from Facebook all together.
I would like to suggest rather than allowing our well-being to be impacted by comparing ourselves to others, or allowing them to drag us into their world, that we develop an attitude of gratitude. The answer is not necessarily doing away with social media but instead, per Gratitude expert Robert Emmons, we can all benefit from what he calls “practicing gratitude”.
I purchased two gratitude journals as Christmas gifts this year. I am now thinking I should have kept one for myself! Emmons summarizes his findings proving that when we consciously identify things in our lives to be grateful for, we experience profound benefits including more efficient sleep, lower blood pressure, healthy heart functioning, and reduced risk for depression and anxiety. “Practicing gratitude” also encourages positive behaviors like “more frequent exercise, better dietary intake, less smoking and alcohol abuse.”
Emmons concludes “Gratitude blocks toxic emotions, such as envy, resentment, regret and depression, which can destroy our happiness…it focuses the mind on what an individual already has rather than something that is absent…” As a member of OC Women2Women, it is not uncommon to hear first-hand of the hardships of others who are truly in need. I find myself thankful for the many blessings I enjoy.
I challenge us all to take our lives back by voicing our gratitude, enabling us to act rather than be acted on, to appreciate the everyday journey that nurtures learning and loving in a chaotic world, and make a positive impact in the world around us.