Stretching toward the sunny side

I never think of myself as a gloom and doom person, but last Thursday I caught myself being ridiculously negative. All it took was one small incident with a client to bring me down. For hours  I kept going over the situation and bemoaning how silly it was and oh-poor-me-I-should-just-be-independently-wealthy-and-never-have-to-work-with-anyone-again. Then it hit me, probably 5 good things had happened that day, including a colleague sharing a really nice comment a client had made about my work and another client liking an ad headline I had struggled with. Why was it that one bummer incident could overshadow positives that were much greater?

In yoga these past couple weeks, our instructor has been urging us to make a new year’s resolution and reflect on it every time we practice. Hers was a good one — to see the good in everyone and to respond to even negative people and situations with love. She joked about that guy who cuts you off in traffic or the maddening wait in a line behind someone taking forever. (Basically taking to heart the “namaste” we end each practice with, loosely meaning “May the light and love in me reach out to meet the light and love in you.”)

I didn’t really make any resolutions this year — I could have the same resolution every year for the rest of my life, probably involving eating healthy, exercising, losing weight, or whatever. But last Thursday’s negativity wake-up-call made me think I should focus — again — on being a more positive person.

This is not news. I read the seminal The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale 6 or 7 years ago and really appreciated the message and that this was something I needed to work on. I did adopt some of the practices into my life, but clearly need to work on it more. Seriously, with so many positives in my life, I’m rather ashamed that I’d waste more than a minute or two pondering some little “shit happens” moment or dwelling on a criticism, perceived injustice, or anything not impacting life, health, or livelihood. That’s not to say self-reflection isn’t good or you can’t learn from negative events. It’s what “they” always tell you: It’s about perspective. How you choose to think about something. Recognizing and acknowledging the trivial bad stuff and then letting it go. Glass half full and all that.

Obviously, I’m not the only one who struggles with this. It seems to be a very common, very human failing (hence all the aphorisms). So I can’t claim to be unique, or that my failings are somehow more profound than anyone else’s. Nope, they’re common and boring and as far away from rocket science as it gets. All the more reason to vanquish them.

Be careful how you interpret the world: It is like that.
~ Eric Heller


  1. Rege said,

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Did you start those flowers inside?

  2. WritingbyEar said,

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I wish I could start stuff inside — not much room to rig up a light table. But I love that picture because the sunflower was a very unexpected volunteer.

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