“Songs are as sad as the listener.”
Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”
Wayne W. Dyer
“Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it.”
I’m really glad to be here. I’m relieved. I’m glad to be writing. All I wanted to do last night was write, but after a long day, I fell asleep. Although yesterday was a tough day, I’m still grateful that my life is relatively easy, far easier than it is for most people. A friend said something to me that really made me think: she said my life is easy. She said that I was the one who complicates things.
I will admit that I tend to get stressed a little too easily. I also tend to imagine the worst and I tend to create problems where none exist. But does that mean that if I could stop doing those things, my life would be easy?
A few years ago I made a choice that I would allow no negative talk of any kind to come out of my mouth nor any negative thoughts to stay in my head. I would not complain or gossip in word or thought. I did this for a month. During this month I lost a job that I loved. I was also in a car accident that totaled one of the best cars I ever had, due to the carelessness of another driver who kept going. In addition to the physical pain I was in for several days, I was now set back financially. But I did not complain.
Then one day, in a support group of all places, I forgot my commitment and began complaining about my troubles. I broke the spell. Suddenly my negativity in word and thought returned. But here is what I realized.
· I went an entire month without complaining in word or thought.
· None of my troubles seemed to trouble me during that time. They were just facts.
First, to go an entire month without negativity may be one of the most amazing things I have ever done. I’ve tried to do it again, many times, since then, but I haven’t been successful. But I’m not going to give up. First, however, I want to define what complaining is and isn’t.
Sharing facts is not negativity. Making a judgment around those facts usually is. For example, I can say that my car was totaled without saying it was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. It may have been inconvenient, physically painful even, but was it really “horrible?” Let others make the judgment if they wish. Maybe my car accident was a good thing because it wasn’t a fatality. Maybe it was just life. What is “good” and what is “bad?” Perhaps there is much less bad than we think.
Sharing feelings is not negativity. I think it’s okay to feel sad or even angry at a loss. In fact, it’s probably normal and healthy. What’s not normal and healthy is holding on to those feelings indefinitely or revisiting them constantly. How long can we hold on to the past? How often can we revisit the injustices of life? Is there something we can do now? If not, is there a way to let go? Is there a point to holding on to something that just drags us down?
Leaving a situation is not negativity. Sometimes it’s just time to move on. I’ve left certain jobs and situations, not because they were “bad,” but because they weren’t the best choice for me. I might be leaving a supervisor, coworkers or work that inhibited my growth or caused emotional pain. It’s okay to move on to something else. What keeps this positive is the simple choice to not complain about who or what I’m leaving. It was a learning experience.
So what then is negativity? It’s complaining. It’s gossip. It’s constantly revisiting the past as if I could change it or make it “better.” Am I saying that some things weren’t difficult? No. In fact, it may even be helpful to get support or therapy over certain situations. Many victims of trauma need help, but only for the express purposes of healing and letting go of the chains of the past.
Here are some questions I would like to answer the next time I’m upset about something:
· Is it really worth my time to focus on this?
· If so, how quickly can I deal with and let go of this?
· What are the natural feelings that come up around this situation?
· Can I acknowledge those feelings and then let them go?
· How quickly can I get to my natural states of love, joy and peace?
· Is the situation something I can or want to change?
· Are there other areas worthier of focus upon instead?
As I said, that month of no negativity was one of the most amazing things I had eve done. I don’t see why I can’t do it again. I don’t see why it can’t be a lifelong habit. As with any effort towards personal growth, it would require diligence, vigilance and practice, but I don’t see it as impossible.
Will this make my life easy?
When I last did that the circumstances were neither easier nor harder than at any other time. In fact, some of them were a little harder. But I wasn’t aware that they were harder and so my life was actually easier.
So many of our difficulties are truly in our heads. It’s not our circumstances, but our perception of the circumstances that make life difficult. Sometimes I just need to sit down and do my work. Often I have caused many of my own troubles, but I can solve them, too. I truly do need to Get Started and Keep Going…positively.