I needed to be happier

A while ago, I found myself stuck in a rut of unhappiness. For months, I couldn’t find anything to be enthusiastic or excited about—like there were no more adventures or opportunities out there for me.

If you had asked me at the time why I felt so bad, I could have given you all sorts of reasons why things would only get worse, both for me personally and for the world at large. The reasons were valid and I had evidence to support them.

But focusing on those reasons was a choice that I was making and it wasn’t a choice that was serving me. At one point, I felt like I couldn’t bring myself to genuinely smile. It was taking a toll on me and my family. I needed to be happier.

I decided to change my news diet. I removed social media apps from my phone and installed newsfeed blockers to make social media less compelling. Using my feed reader, I subscribed to authors who had a positive vision of the future and builders who were working on making that vision a reality. Through these people I discovered more people. I read their books and listened to their podcasts.

It was like moving to a new city—a place with vitality, energy, and enthusiasm. I was surrounded by scientists, researchers, and engineers who were working together and building a better future.* The despair I felt was replaced with hope.

I share this story because I know I’m not the only one who has struggled with this stuff. Regardless of whether you follow traditional news or use social media, you’re eventually going to find yourself drowning in a sea of negativity as publishers use fear to fight for your attention. This is bound to get even worse next year as the election cycle takes over.

Please know: you don’t have to participate in any of it. Doomerism helps nobody and the idea that you have some societal obligation to follow breaking news is both flawed and harmful (to everyone except media companies). It’s ok to leave all of it behind.

In the physical world, moving to a new city is difficult. The best most vibrant cities are in high demand and expensive to live in.

The online world is different. You can move anywhere you want, anytime you want, for free. Find your people—people who inspire you and drive you to be better. People who make you happy.

They’re out there. You just have to look for them.

This post is part of a series about online media and RSS:

* If you’re curious about who I subscribed to, here are some examples: Gates Notes, Our World In Data, José Luis Ricón, The Roots of Progress, Steph Ango, CleanTechnica, Tom Macwright, Noahpinion, Sustainabilty by Numbers, and Devon Zuegel.

Feel free to email or comment below if you have recommendations for other people you think I should subscribe to.