Important Lessons We Can Take Away From The Election

By Samantha Weller on April 8, 2017

Peril, fear, and collapse are three words that can accurately describe many feelings about current events right now. On the other hand, there are also the complete opposite feelings of being content and satisfied. Regardless of the reactions,  our country is enduring more change than most of us can keep up with, let alone imagine would ever happen.

Many of us who disagree with what’s going on feel powerless as we continually endure change and commotion, feeling like everything around us is unstoppable yet impossible to ignore. Regardless, though, there has been a lot of outrage on both sides. A lot of people have had no idea how to cope with the world we will be living in for years to come, witnessing changes that could impact some of us the rest of our lives, such as people denying climate change, the education system taking a seemingly-backwards turn, and a multitude of other controversial decisions being made right before our eyes.

For college students and graduates, this is all especially worrisome. Even adults may find themselves distracted at work from political discussions or distressing news. A recent APA study even found that over half of Americans are stressed about the results of the election. Part of this is due to the high rate of exposure. If some aspect of the election isn’t on TV, it’s in the newspaper or on social media, and can even be found as wall art.

Lynn Bufka, the associate executive director for practice, research, and policy at APA, said, “Election stress becomes exacerbated by arguments, stories, images, and video on social media that can heighten concern and frustration, particularly with thousands of comments that can range from factual to hostile or even inflammatory.”

Fake news is creating worsened perspectives, while people are already frustrated enough with real news. People are arguing left and right, on and off screens, and it’s affecting all of us in our daily lives.

While the election is certainly impacting our daily lives, there’s unfortunately only so much we can do, and it’s essential to learn how to deal with it rather than attempt to deal with it in ways we simply cannot, or in ways that are doing more bad than good. After all, there is always something good that can come from even the most drastic times, and sometimes it’s the only thing we can do to deal with situations.

Consider other perspectives 

One of the most important skills to develop if you want to live an easier life is learning how to take other’s perspectives. The New Yorker stated that people are so close-minded that they can’t even accept the facts right before them out of thinking so highly of their own opinions.

According to the New Yorker on human reasoning, it’s human nature to believe we’re right, regardless of facts.

Elizabeth Kolbert said, “there was little advantage in reasoning clearly, while much was to be gained from winning arguments,” noting that, from an advancing society that accelerated at a faster rate than humans could keep up with, our minds kept the same ideologies, and ignorance, that perpetuated the desire to ‘win’ arguments.

However, if we want to be happier, and generally have a better quality of life, it’s important to understand why other people have completely opposite ways of thinking (and no, it’s not to make you mad). Right now, if people spent more time trying to understand another’s point of view, rather than trying to convert them to thinking their way, there would be a lot less hatred and a lot more simplicity.

Be proactive

The protests this year have really displayed our nation’s efforts to spark change among us. The Women’s March, according to estimates by political scientists, involved more than 1 in 100 Americans, totaling to around 3-4 million people. The North Dakota Pipeline protesters also showed a heartfelt effort to support a small population in our country.

Whether people are donating to good causes, signing petitions, or both of these, the election has really brought out the proactive side, especially in the millennial generation, and shows our ambition and that we recognize how we need to take a stand for what we believe in. It’s times like these where we can really learn how to share our ideas and encourage others to improve our society. It takes time to get there, but even making the slightest effort can help and can make you a better person.

Appreciate what you have

The thing about living in a bad time makes us reflect on times that were really good. It makes us appreciate our life more while understanding that sometimes, things can go wrong. Although many people think so, this is not the worst thing that could happen to us.  

Although some of us may feel distracted by all the changes that are going on every day, we need to remember that we still have many opportunities that third world countries still do not have. So much of our society is still just as good as it was before, and we need to think about that rather than what is changing.

Understand what could go wrong

If we are uninformed about past events such as World War I and World War II, and the Great Depression, and forget how far we’ve still come despite some declines, we will constantly be disappointed at our imperfect nation. Unfortunately, the reality is that things can turn around so fast in today’s economy, and in the most unexpected of times.

We often have our individual expectations of society, while trying to block out all the bad aspects of it. Accepting that sometimes things can go in the complete opposite direction, but can still turn around, is essential to dealing with a massive change such as this year, and the next coming years. The more opportunities and material things our society has, the harder we will fall.

Gain control of your life

In the midst of feeling completely out-of-control, we should actually be taking better control of our lives by ignoring all the distractions. It will not only help us feel more in control but also prevent the election from holding us back in our daily lives. It may be difficult to cope and stay focused at work or in your daily life right now, but we are learning day by day to either ignore, look at things from another angle, or think positively. If it’s better for you, try and avoid social media, not following any pages that implicitly or directly state things about the election, and refraining from pointless online arguments. Striving to not let big things impact your ability to work will also be good for your career — learning to focus in a distracting environment — and is actually crucial for a lot of people right now.

For those who feel that everything is going downhill, just remember that the election can only impact our lives so much. We have control over how much this election affects us, and if anything, it should be teaching us and building us as people — not tearing us down. Whether by making us stronger, making us work harder, or making us be the bigger person, there are some ways to look at the election differently, and also to have a different attitude towards it.

Each and every one of us that feels our society is indescribable right now should accept that it’s more effective to work towards viewing it better, continue looking at what we all still have, and not invest too much time in what’s different around us. Life still goes on, and although it might not be what some of us envisioned it would be at this point, it’s still our country that we have to love and fight for like we always have.

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