It is hard to stay positive in today’s world. Children are dying in famines in Africa, and are starving in American cities. Loved ones are lost in terrorist attacks and wars and to cancer and car crashes. Women live in unspeakable circumstances as their freedoms are controlled in societies throughout the world. Homes and lives are lost in hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes. Every day struggles to obtain and keep a decent paying job are often daunting and overwhelming. Relationships fall apart and break hearts. Death and loss confront us on a daily basis, and even more so, now that there is a plethora of media formats to connect us to previously local tragedies. People everywhere are hurting. Suffering is everywhere.
So, in the face of all of these nightmares, it can seem naïve or even insensitive to carry around a positive attitude. Certainly, at the very least, being a cynic can make a person popular in many circles, where self-deprecating or critical or complaining humor can feel more “relatable” and “genuine” than a perky smile or a “I’m doing great today!” communication.
But for those folks who want to crush the positivity out of a smiling soul simply to relieve the pain in their own, I have to say, it isn’t going to make their lives better. The resentment directed towards a positive person could best be taken as a clue to look inward, to address the source of pain inside, rather than attack good energy where it exists in this world. It is so much easier to envy, to criticize, to mock, to try to bring that person into our circle of suffering, but the truth is, the positive people living the seemingly perfect lives are not the problem.
There seems to be a prevailing zeitgeist that being positive is not being real. That could not be further from the truth. Being artificial turns people off, but true positivity is a balancing act that should be commended, not degraded. Being positive requires emotional courage and strength. Being positive requires being secure in oneself, because being positive is often an unpopular choice in a world where many people are looking to find a mirror for their own pain. Being positive requires looking at the suffering, seeing it, changing what you can in the situation, seeking support when needed, and keeping a forward momentum while appreciating and choosing to focus on the good in life. Life is not all bleak. There are brilliant moments of love, tenderness, beauty, comfort, coziness, self-sacrifice, and compassion hidden in the rubble. The positive people among us just know how to focus on those things when the walls come down. They know how to appreciate the simple things, like a cozy blanket, or a sunny day and make them significant. They know how to smile or offer words of comfort to a struggling stranger. They know how to try when trying is the last thing they might want to do inside. They are warriors with their inner ghouls and make deliberate, challenging choices to be hopeful, pleasant, and kind. They are joy givers and light bringers. They can sometimes be the people we disdain, but maybe that’s because we wish that we were able to be the people they are: defenders of joy, innocence, and goodness in the world.
Author’s disclaimer: I’m not sure that I identify as a positive person. I have my moments, and I have my struggles. Depends on who you ask, I guess! But I know other positive people when I see them (I am thankful to call several of these folks my friends) and while I may have had my moments siding with the cynics, with each year of my life, I develop deeper admiration for the positive people. This post is for you!
Also, if you would like to help those families who are suffering in Somalia, please click on the link in the first paragraph of this post to learn how you can assist the relief effort.
Linking up with Shell at Things I Can’t Say for