The world is in a tumultuous time and many of us bear that weight, often using the only mouthpiece we have, social media, to voice our pain. Since the election, several of my friends have taken a “break” from Facebook, as they recognize they feel worse for having scrolled their News Feed.
Even if we post responsibly, we must be mindful how we respond to the posts of others. When used poorly, social media becomes a steady IV drip of resentment that robs us of our ability to see beauty in the world. I propose an alternative:
We use social media as a vehicle to practice Gratitude.
Try this three step exercise with the next three posts on your News Feed.
The Three-for-Three Process
1- Before addressing the post, look at the picture of he or she who posted. Silently wish them well and think of one way they have made your life better.
2- Now look at the content of the post. If it is positive, be grateful that your friend is well. If it is negative, hoping that their condition improves, wish them well.
3- “Like” the post. Not because you like its content, but because you like the person who posted it. Articulate this distinction in your mind. You are publicly and positively acknowledging the human being behind the post.
Repeat for the next 2 posts on your Feed.
Worst Case Scenario: You are free of your inner monologue for a few moments as you practice mindfulness, a reward in itself.
Better (and more likely) Scenario: You break routine and gratitude replaces apathy. You are reminded of how much better your life is because others exist, and you focus on their well-being.
When you continue down your News Feed, with your gratitude muscles primed, you will be in a state to view others (and yourself) more kindly.
Best Case Scenario: This practice brings you joy. You repeat it.
Spark Your Growth
There is an old fable in which an Indian chief teaches his son about a battle inside each of us, between a good wolf and a bad wolf, and when the young boy asks who wins, the father replies, “The one you feed.”
Every thought feeds a wolf. Every action pushes you closer toward or further away from who you aspire to be. If you do not purposefully practice virtue, vice will take its place. In the daily trenches for your soul, these subtle, seemingly meaningless choices determine who you become.
Social media, when used with the right intention, can be a valuable tool in the cultivation of Gratitude.
Use it wisely. Use it kindly.