Citizens of Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, and other "battlefield" states: I'm sorry.
I'm sorry because for the next few months, your TVs will be taken hostage. Your favorite shows - The Voice, NCIS, or, my personal pick, Modern Family - will be interrupted every few minutes with something that will make your skin crawl. That's because up until November, your favorite channels will be taken over by the foulest form of TV ad: the presidential candidate smear campaign.
Perhaps the dirtiest trick in all of American politics, the smear campaign takes a group of people - people who are all vying for the most important job in the U.S., mind you - and paints them as the most corrupt, reprehensible, and incompetent among us.
Political alignment doesn't matter. Geographic representation doesn't matter. Frankly, facts and truth don't matter. All that matters is making the other guy look worse than you.
Smear campaigns make us feel bad because they focus on the worst parts of our society, rather than the best.
I can't think of another avenue of life where we unquestionably accept such negativity - except planning for the future.
I get it - planning for the future is hard. It's uncertain. I think it boils down to this:
Planning for the future is complex.
We tend to view complex things negatively and even put them off.
Think about the above example. Politics are complex. They're not cut and dry or black or white - they're gray. It's much easier to accept negativity in campaign ads than it is to fact-check. Similarly, it's much easier to put off thinking about your future than it is to crunch numbers and make difficult decisions.
However - sometimes the most satisfying thing you can do to combat this complexity is to take the first and littlest baby step. Ask yourself: What is important to me for my future? What are my goals?
I know - that's hard too. But it doesn't have to be. Ask your partner, your loved ones, or your trusted advisers.
Meanwhile, try to stay positive during the next few months as those smear campaigns start rolling by. Or, if you have to, avoid them altogether. I know that for the next few months, I'll be spending a lot more time on Netflix. I still haven't seen "Making a Murderer" yet and it's calling my name!