I'm trying to be less critical.
Lately, I've noticed my tendency to critique everything. From the beginning. Often before I even have enough information to properly critique. I come in to a situation looking for things I disagree with, things that I want to argue. Overall, it leaves me feeling kind of blah and less than optimistic about things in general.
It's not just affecting me.
A conversation at a diversity workshop this summer wound around the idea that bad emotions are contagious. It was pointed out to me that in the fields of education and medicine, in particularly, high-stress environments with critics all around passes the negative stress on to patients and to learners. It gets dished out into society and the bad cycle continues.
The book I just picked up for my class, called "Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence," explains how this works from a neurological perspective. Human emotions are influenced by the environment. If someone in my environment is consistently negative, my brain will pick up on those signals, send out similar chemicals to my brain, and I will take on that mood. Likewise, if someone is optimistic and positive, I will also adopt a good mood for myself. This means that others literally can change my outlook.
I can also affect other people's outlooks. I realize that I need to stop the negative cycles of criticism with the power of balance in a life of service and Sabbath, and centeredness in Christ through prayer. For me, the focus needs to be on living in the kingdom of God daily and following Jesus in my life, which means living in celebration of the fruits of the spirit and living joyfully in ways that make for peace and justice.
I don't mean that I want to focus on myself and ignore what's going on elsewhere. It's just that the only real change I can make is how I respond to others, what actions I initiate, and the kind of energy messages I'm sending to others. I want to add energy to positivity, to life, to goodness cycles of healing and hope.
While still recognizing , lamenting and getting angry about the evil when needed, I think I can try to point out these positive cycles and keep my focus there. In this way, I resist evil and negativity by choosing to live different patterns and to live in life, hope and joy -- trusting the Creator of mercy and abundance and love to restore all things to goodness and rightness.