May 30, 2024

Inputs and Positivity and Podcasts and a Positive Mental Attitude

My current podcast lineup is as follows:

  • Best of Both Worlds
  • Girl Next Door
  • Best Laid Plans
  • Organize365
  • About Progress
  • Office ladies
  • Lazy Genius
  • Didn't I Just Feed You 
I have gone off recent Cal Newport Deep Questions episodes because I am so out of the headspace of professional development right now.

I listened to a few episodes of Enemy in Paris recently, because I love Office Ladies and they were guests on the show.  
Although I did like the show, and found both presenters funny, I realised I did not like listening to something that was so negative.  It's in the title - it's a "hate watch" podcast.  They did not like the show.  I can see why.  They are funny while hating on the show, but I couldn't listen to it because I just felt... negative.

I don't know when I started being more careful about positive vs. negative inputs, but I now try very hard to avoid things/shows/people/news that are overly negative.

I try not to read news (although I do slip up - I have news sites blocked on my phone for this reason)

I try to nicely correct people close to me if they use negative language (for instance if someone says "I did something so stupid" I often say "please don't use stupid/dumb/hate/idiot around the kids, perhaps you meant you did something silly or made a mistake?".  This only works with people I am very close to, and mostly happens with family members who visit)

I don't follow politics at all, in the US or the UK (recently someone from the US mentioned November 5th and I asked if Guy Fawkes day was becoming a big deal. They meant the presidential election).

I don't read books about the dire state of things.  I didn't finish The Hungry Empire for this reason, although history is sad I don't want to learn more sad right now.

I don't watch regular TV so I never see ads.  Ads are not necessarily negative, but they do make me feel "less than"

I don't have any instagram/facebook/linkedin/Twitter so I can't be targeted with ads which might make me feel bad about my current life, or compare myself to others doing "better", or take on other peoples negative experiences.

Build the Life you Want had a great section on this, and on watching the language we use.  
I try not to say that I "hate" something.  I am definitely tired of the rain.  I don't want it to rain.  But I wouldn't say "I hate this weather" because that feels far more negative.  I definitely look forward to better weather!

It's interesting to me that being more selective about my inputs and my language has caused me to be more sensitive about negativity.  I find spending time with negative people far more taxing than it used to be.  I don't mind a gripe of course - problems shared are problems halved - but I do mind a perpetual onslaught of "here is a bad thing I read... here is something I saw on twitter... here is a bad experience I had this morning caused by someone else". 

Life seems hard enough without searching out more negativity?   

[As a caveat here... I know there are awful things happening in the world and I am writing from HUGE privilege.   The world is not a great place for so many people right now.  If I want to get involved in those causes or find out more I will search out the information.  In my opinion, going to a news site to look a pictures of horror and trauma from around the world isn't informing me... it's just letting the news site make a bit more advertising money.  I do believe there is value to being informed about the word we live, but I don't think we were meant to be have access to tragedy from every corner of the world every moment of every day.]

I also try and play a game (which doesn't always work) when driving.  If someone does something really aggressive or rude I think "man, that person must be having a tough day.  I'm glad I'm not having a tough day so I don't need to be so aggressive"

Or, the other day I was in LIDL and they opened up a new check out.  I had about 20 items and a man ran over with 4 things in his hand so I let him go in front of me.  Then he waved his wife over with a trolley full of items.  At first I was annoyed because I was trying to be nice and let him through, but then I though "I'm glad I'm not in such a rush that I have to cut in front of people.  I'm glad I'm not buying processed sausage rolls from LIDL.  I'm glad I have the chance to stand in this queue and not worry about 5 minutes".  

It doesn't always work and I'm obviously not always positive, but controlling negative inputs has definitely reframed how I see the world, and how I respond to things at a baseline level.  Coming at the world with neutrality or positivity doesn't make the world a better place, but entering every interaction with negitivity is unlikely to improve anything.

Any realistically positive (I don't need Pollyanna here) podcasts you enjoy?  


  1. Inputs... Pretty much all of the above podcasts. SHU, Best of Both World, the Hidden Brain, So Money, What Fresh Hell, The Giel Next Door, Money with Katie Show, GTD, Chasing Life, Geeky a GoGo, the Lazy Genius, and Fried.

  2. My all time rec is My Dad Wrote a Porno (start at the beginning). I think Ask Ronna might also fit your criteria.
    I am also trying to be more generous in my assumptions, if not more positive. E.g. maybe that person drives great on a good day but is just really tired today, etc. - Kat

  3. Your comment about traffic- we live two blocks from a hospital and it used to really get to me when people drove carelessly in our neighborhood. It still does, but now I say to myself, “Maybe there is someone in a lot of pain in that car,” and try to give grace.
    I really like On Being- I find each episode so thoughtful about how to live life with grace and wisdom even when things are hard.
    Vivek Murthy’s podcast House Calls is also great, too. Both shows always give me so much to think about.

  4. We listen to a lot of the same podcasts! And I 100% agree- I would not like a podcast based on negativity. I have a person in my house (not going to say who it is) who can be very negative, and it really bothers me. I've tried to help them reframe things (in the ways that you've mentioned) but it just doesn't work. I think some people can't help it- their brains are hard-wired that way. It can be hard to live with though (I guess I should just be grateful I wasn't hard-wired that way!)
    About november 5th- i may have to move to Wales! This whole election is going to be hard to get through.

  5. I am not a podcast listener so I have no recommendations, but I love your attitude. I am generally a positive person and often try to give other people the benefit of the doubt or - like - reframe the situation. It definitely doesn't always work, but practice makes perfect ;)