Thursday, August 14, 2014

On Positivity and Negativity

This past week, a former coworker and current friend gave me the 5 Days of Positivity Challenge. In this, I had to post 3 positive things every day for 5 days. I don't have a hard time posting happy stuff, but to be dedicated to it took some effort. I kept note on the phone whenever something particularly good happened, or made me smile. I flipped back through others' Facebook posts to see what I may have missed, or what these posts triggered. It was not always easy, with the tragic death of Robin Williams, the turmoil in Ferguson MO, and staring my ended relationship in the face. Still, I persevered.

I am SO GLAD that I did! When I wrote my last post today, I really could feel how much better I see the world now. Especially now with so much trouble at every turn. It makes my day a little brighter to think of the things that are good in my little corner of the world. I've long thought that positive thinking has power, and this exercise has helped me recognize it yet again. While I am an upbeat person, I'm not always looking on the bright side of things, or for the simple joys all around me.

In the last few months I have made a whole bunch of new friends, most of whom are also very positive and upbeat. These guys have helped me look harder at the good and to hell with the rest of it. I'm sounding a lot like a self help book right now, so I'll leave that part of it there.

In this time, though, I've also seen just how negative a LOT of people I know are. We all have hardship, I get that. We all have insecurities, I get that too. But sometimes it just seems like people go out of their way to gripe about things that otherwise wouldn't affect them. These people have a hard time empathizing with others' good fortunes because it didn't involve them.

Many of my friends are in career transitions, and some got exactly what they were looking for and others didn't. Those who didn't have griped very publicly the whole time. Some, to the point that those who did get what they want feel like they can't say anything because it'll be a lightning rod for the negativity to these people. It's really a shame that the negativity taints everything around it so much.

I've also seen people being super bitchy about: various events, gay subcultures, different brands of technology, and TV shows that they hate. Not a single one of these topics are a mandatory part of life. Don't like Market Days? Don't go! Some people do have fun there, and it's not affecting you at all if you stay away. Think the bear culture is ridiculous? Then steer clear of the bear websites and bars. Hate Apple products? Fine, enjoy your Samsung stuff! Hate reality TV? Then don't watch it just so you can bitch about it.

I really don't understand how people can devote so much of their time and energy to things they hate. I don't have the time for all the things I enjoy! It seems so silly and such a waste to devote so much mindspace to things that piss you off. Maybe it makes these individuals feel superior to dump on things others love? I'm not sure. There are certainly things out there that I dislike, but if someone tells me how much they love them, I usually just accept that it's not for me, and move on.

People also cannot fathom why someone doesn't like things they themselves love. For example, an acquaintance of mine didn't like Guardians of the Galaxy. Now, I LOVED this movie, but I can accept that it's not for everybody. When he announced it on Facebook, people piled on trying to convince him that he didn't get it, didn't see it with the right audience, or in the right theater. I fell for some of it too, extolling what I loved so much, before remembering that it's perfectly fine if he didn't like it.  Doesn't detract from my love of it at all.

I guess where all this rambling is going is to say that we should all try a little bit to look for the good things that are all around us. Allow yourself to enjoy things without shame, and don't shame others for liking or disliking things differently than you do. Being happy is often a choice, and I suggest we all do our damnedest to choose wisely.

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