Alphabet Lessons: Negatives and Positives

Avoid negative sources, people, places, things and habits.

Alright. This is good advice, when followed in a reasonable matter. This is even better advice for someone on the career hunt, because negativity is a quicksand trap on has to pull oneself out of with retail therapy and over-use of credit cards.

But to play devil’s advocate a bit, how fully can one appreciate the positive without experiencing the negative in some shape or form?

One of the tenants of our culture (particularly our religious culture) is that one must take the bad with the good. There’s that infuriating common adage “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Or as the dad from Calvin and Hobbes says, “It builds character!”

To take this further, negativity is part of being human. While certain grandmothers or distant relations who only see the negative in everything are impossible to be around, they provide some perspective. They allow us to be grateful for the fact we can laugh and smile and haven’t reached a low point of bitterness and despair.

But let me tell a story about the dangers of positivity. I have a friend, let’s call her Liz, who is always positive. And I mean ALWAYS. She claims to get angry and stressed out and nervous like every other mortal, but I have witnessed this girl in action and it’s simply not true. Liz always manages to make everything better, can befriend any person no matter how curmudgeonly and worst of all, does not judge people. That last one is an ideal quality in a human being, but I’ve come to realize over the years that most of the entertainment in our society comes from judging other people. It’s enjoyable, in moderation. To judge is human!

One would think this is the girl to call when in a sour mood. Often, Liz is the best person to cheer me up and get me going. But there are certain low moments in life where I just need to wallow in self-pity a bit before I can face society again. In those rare moments, an endless outpouring of positivity can be a bit grating, especially when I’m in no mood to match them.

So there you have it. To be stressed out is human. Maybe the world would be a better place if we were all like Liz, but we’re not. The best we can do recognize our moments of failure for what they are and move on.

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