One day I decided that I wanted to be a more positive person. I have always tended towards the top of the cynical, bitingly humorous, impatient and harsh curve and it seemed that this is not what is helpful to the world at large and to the people in my immediate vicinity. This is not the way to win friends and influence people. I would now say that this wasn’t altogether healthy for me either but at the time that idea was lagging towards the back of the line.
I decided that I was going to make a willful, concerted effort to be the swan of positivity floating in the sea of negative ugly ducklings. I was going to be a leader and proof of the power of positive thinking, a beacon of light on the ‘can-do’ highway of life.
And so I started about the business of readjusting my attitude. It seemed best to me, after a lifetime that if I will be absolutely truthful was most definitely top-heavy on the negative, that I should start small. Frogs only turn into princesses in the blink of an eye in fairy tales and movie theatres. This is real life and I am, if nothing else a realist (or so I thought but that’s another story altogether).
Anyhoo… I decided that it would be easy enough to smile and be nice to people in the grocery store, show a little kindness, allow others to get in line ahead of me even if I was there first. I was calm and patient waiting in line at the bank, making sure that I was pleasant and kind to the teller when my turn was up, regardless of how long I had waited to get to the head of the line. I was even pleasant to the clerk at the motor vehicle department and for anyone who has ever been there we all know what a challenge that can be. As an aside it is amazing what a little smile and humor can do to a person who has spent years toiling in the obscurity of government bureaucracy. Some of them even smiled back at me from time to time. Already some payback baby. This is going to be awesome!
I read books on the power of positive thinking, I read books on how to be a leader in the business world, how to be a leader in your personal life, how to get the most out of people, books on every conceivable positive thinking idea there is out there. I won’t lie, some of them were worth the read, occasionally I would come across something that offered a new way of seeing an old story, some little tidbit of life philosophy that I had not considered. Good stuff and I tried my best to put these things into action both at home and at work. And for awhile it was working. Most people really do respond well to positivity. Oh sure there are those that are permanently and eternally cynical and unhappy but hey, it does take all kinds yes? I would move along from them, nobody was going to rain on my positive parade.
But one day something happened. On this particular day I woke up and like a ton of bricks it hit me - this being positive thing was taking a hell of a lot of energy, I mean a hell of a lot of energy. And I pondered this. How could something that was so right, so good, so ‘freeing’, so full of everything we have come to know as true in this world be sucking up so damn much of my energy? If it’s good and right and true shouldn’t it be easier? Shouldn’t it be energizing rather energy depleting?
Thought number two for the first day of the rest of my life:
Sweetheart, get thee to a therapist.
I have saved the part that smiles and jokes with the bank teller, this IS better and it takes no energy and it is such a small thing and it truly makes a difference. Be nice to people. I still don’t (mostly) lose my temper when I get stuck in traffic. If somebody gets on my bumper I move over and let him (it is usually a ‘him’) pass. But the rest of it, the books, the forced positive attitude, the burning of the beacon of light on both ends? I’ve put that aside for awhile. I haven’t got the energy, I’m just not there yet. I have realized that it must come in its own time and in its own way and exerting my willfulness in an effort to force something does nothing but drain my resources.