Generally, I think of myself as a pretty positive, upbeat person. I read mostly romance and fantasy fiction, because I like happy endings, good guys winning, and everything working out for the best — sometimes saving the world at the same time. Lately, between political campaigns and divisive social issues dominating my internet news and social networks, I’ve felt a lot of negativity coming at me. Today, I made the decision to make my speech, action and thoughts all positive. That proved to be extremely challenging and worth reflecting on.
The first challenge was the morning radio broadcast: a guy was being interviewed about education reform, and he insisted that what we need to fix schools is “teachers who want students to learn.” What the hell? Does anyone honestly believe that our public schools are full of teachers who DON’T want students to learn? Or who are indifferent? Maybe they are there for the vast respect and high wages that come with the profession? I turned that off, and put on some Robert Plant and Alison Krause instead.
On my way to campus, I stopped at Office Depot to buy supplies for my class. But they didn’t have what I wanted, so I felt like I had wasted my time. I had to work a little to be polite when I realized this. Then I got to campus and found that the teacher of the class ahead of me had promised her students extra time on their test — meaning that they were in the classroom through their own class time and into mine. My students were cranky about that and surprised that I wasn’t. Because I was staying positive!
Over the course of the day, I had students who didn’t have their work done and others who complained about the exercise I had planned for the day. I had drivers in front of and behind me who didn’t use turn signals, observe speed limits, or keep anything like a safe distance from my (recently repaired) bumper. I had poor customer service, disappointing professional news (delivered callously), and some inconsiderate treatment from people from whom I felt I deserved better. And it was a pretty typical day.
I was really surprised how many times today I started to say something negative — not snarky, not funny, just negative. Calling names, criticizing (not constructively) and complaining apparently make up a lot more of my daily discourse than I realized. While I don’t mind being called a “mean girl” for my occasionally blunt opinions and use of ridicule, I didn’t like finding out how hard it is for me to be basically positive about my life and day-to-day encounters and experiences.
I have a terrific life: I live in a free country; I have my basic needs fulfilled and money left over for some luxuries; I have healthy, smart, loving kids; and I share all that with a wonderful man who loves me more than I can possibly deserve, except that I love him just as much. I spend part of my free time talking with warm, funny, smart people on the internet, or meeting with some of them in person, and I have a large and loving extended family with whom to share life’s ups and downs. I’m a lucky lady, a happy lady, and it bothers me how easily I forget that when confronted with a stupid political ad or an inconsiderate driver.
Not that I’m going to try to never be negative again; I’m human, yo! But I am going to set myself a repeat of this challenge periodically, because it was good for me. You’re never too old to learn something about yourself, I guess — how’s that for a positive thought?