"Shaded by a tree, can't live up to a rose. All you ever wanted was a sunny place to grow." - Miranda Lambert
Negativity – The trendy, seemingly common, societal thread that holds everyone together (Especially these days). It surfaces quickly and rolls off the tongue with downhill ease. It’s not just a tone. It’s a mood. It’s a motto. It’s our “spirit animal,” to quote the kids. A mantra slipped silently into our daily routine. We wear it as comfortably as our favorite, broke-in tee. We exercise it without thinking – Brushing our teeth in the morning, taking our contacts out at night and filling the gaps with our less-than-sunny dispositions. Why though? I mean, forgive my dramatic wordsmithing above (I have a bit of a flare for that) but, I find it very disheartening that we’ve all gone so dark. Maybe “dark” isn’t the word. Perhaps “cloudy.” And speaking for “everyone” probably isn’t fair either. I’m sure not every single person out there has gone to the cloudy side (Puns? Puns to lighten the mood anyone?). I’ll amend to those in my circle – myself included. Myself probably most of all to be honest. And, I’ve always considered myself to be a mostly positive person but I’ve been catching myself more and more saying snarky things and making snide remarks and rolling my eyes. Like when you get a job promotion and all you think about is the added responsibilities that go along with it. Or someone compliments you on how you look that day and you think, “Oh, what? Because I look like shit every other day?” Things like that. Little things, but when repetitive – a much larger problem. Thus, bringing us back to our question of “Why?” This topic has been nagging at me for several days. I’ve been trying to pin it down, and here’s the thing…
Being negative is easy. It requires minimal thought, hardly any skill and zero effort. The hardest part is pulling your face and skill and thought only come into play if you’re adding in some well-placed sarcasm. Other than that, negativity is a cakewalk. Think about it. Think about the things in your life that irritate you. Things that drive you absolutely insane and just grate on your every nerve. It’s a decent sized list, right? Came to mind pretty quickly, too I assume. Now think about the things in your life that bring you joy. Little everyday nuggets of life that bring you happiness and put you in a good mood. Were those harder to think of? For most people, I’ve found – They are. It’s generally much easier to rattle off the negative. Restaurant reviews are also a prime example. If you have a fantastic time out to eat some place – I mean the food is good, the service is attentive, the night is just a total hit from start to finish – you are more than likely going to leave that place one hundred percent satisfied and talk about it for days to come. Now, say you go out to that same place and have the exact opposite experience – Shitty food, non-existent service and a poor time – you are going to get out your phone, Google that place and more than likely post some scathing review about your night. Just ripping them up and down because you want all who are thinking about eating there to know how big of a shit show that place is. Right? It’s a proven service industry fact that people are more likely to fill out guest surveys at the end of a meal if they had a bad experience. If they have a good experience they just leave satisfied.
Negativity spreads, too. Quickly. Ever showed up some place in the world’s best mood only to have your first interaction be with a stressed out boss or an irritated coworker or rude teller or a moody cashier? Your balloon pops right then and there. Your sun shining face falls, and before you even realize what’s happened you take on that same disposition. Then you go someplace else with a blank stare and an annoyed face and what starts as polite small talk from the chick behind the counter is met with your shortened, ruffled remarks and the irritation spreads down the line. A negativity train my friends, is very hard to stop.
I think that negativity is also perceived as experience, much like wisdom is with age. You trust it more than you do positivity. If someone’s being positive, you wonder what’s up. Are they trying to hide something? Are they all there? Positivity equals cluelessness. It’s for the naïve. For those who haven’t been hardened by the realities of the harsh, unforgiving world we live in. Negativity is the weathered old man with the peg leg and kraken tattoo with a rolling glass eye and all the cool stories of the sea and all her adventures. Positivity is the baby-faced deck hand with glistening eyes who stares at his surroundings like he’s seeing it all for the very first time grinning like a sap and asking millions of questions. He’s annoying. Nobody likes positivity. They’re all gathered around negativity because he’s got all the cool stories. Negativity is the Fonz, people (Or, Regina George – However you want to look at it). Positivity is for losers.
It’s easy to fall into negativity’s draw and once you’re in it’s quite comfortable I’ll agree. But, once you’re comfortable isn’t that when you know that a change needs to be made? Change tests patience. It’s frustrating. It challenges perception. It ruffles feathers and creates enemies, but it also births great revelations. It broadens understanding and carves out space for growth and kindness. Change is difficult and positivity isn’t popular, but when you think back to some of history’s greatest breakthrough moments many prove to be just that – Unpopular ideas that conquered difficulty and emerged as something fantastic.
This weekend, as we soak up all the thankfulness of the holiday, may we also be empowered to take those good vibes and keep their warmth with us and when we find ourselves in those inevitable situations where negativity dominates, may we make a conscious effort to be the positive pulse whose presence – however faint – serves as a light to those who are seeking to make the same change.