Monday #37: Practice What You Preach

Do you think that just because I keep a blog that’s all about optimism, happiness and positive thinking that I don’t have bad days?! You know the kind… life giving you lemons, the pits in the bowl of cherries and the clouds in my coffee kind of days. Well, I do. And, it’s a good thing that I have a separate blog for how I deal with them, by the way, because I wouldn’t want to spill all my negativity and frustrations here at 52 Mondays. Negativity is for the birds.

Studies on human behavior reveal that we are much more emotionally impacted by losing than winning, more affected by bad experiences than good ones–at least as far as longterm memories go. Recently I read an article about successful relationships and how simply being nice can make or break things–though I might argue that sometimes being nice just isn’t enough. But, that’s a topic for another blog, I’m afraid.  According to research, however, for every one negative thing you do or say, there must be five positive things that balance it out. Wow. If you think about the people in your life with whom you have the most conflict, the necessary niceness it takes to smooth things out could really add up. Have you got it in you? I always say it’s easier to be nice than it is to be mean and this just proves it. Better to just say one or two nice things and be done with it. Badness and meanness are strong forces and make us all work harder.

But what do you do when people and life aren’t nice? You might already know how much I like lists, especially lists of five. So, today, here is my list of the five things I do when something bad happens to me and throws me off my game:

  1. Get mad, get sad. Yup, I get mad. I swear, shout, react and throw a little fit. Plus, sometimes I feel sick and anxious like I don’t know what to do. So, I go with it and let all that junk sink in. Get dark, get gloomy. Because…
  2. Then I snap out of it! Wipe my tears, slap my face and move on to a task, preferably do something I like to do–taking a run is a great thing, making a painting or a drawing… doing anything to keep from wallowing.
  3. I let some time pass and then I look at the negative situation and try to find the source(s) and cause(s). Have you ever noticed how, when something goes awry and you are really being honest and objective, you can look back see all the signs that led up to it? This is kind of hard to do because it means you have to own up to your part in it and see how you may have ignored your gut feelings about something that was possibly going to hurt you. Do it, though… this is where you learn.
  4. After finding all the crappy stuff that led up to this moment, I do some real serious looking at all the good stuff. This might be the most important step. Everything we encounter in life has value of some sort and we really have to find it in order to move on. We are all a big swirling glob of every experience we’ve ever had, every person we’ve ever met, every emotion we’ve ever felt. Get greedy, grab what’s yours for the taking and hold it in your heart for safe-keeping. This is where you heal.
  5. Move on! I am not a static person… I don’t wait for the moving on. Some people might find this to be impulsive but I need to feel like my life is in motion. I think that as long as you can keep your head clear, you should stay in the race. This is where you discover what’s possible.

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Khalil Gibran

Balance it out, friends.

About Dar Hosta James

I am an artist living in New Jersey. I write and illustrate children's books, paint, draw, blog, coach, teach and speak about creativity.
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7 Responses to Monday #37: Practice What You Preach

  1. peg46 says:

    I enjoy the positive so much, I’m on my way to check out “Negativity is for the birds” … I look forward to your wisdom each Monday … Thanks

  2. beth loveland says:

    Yes yes yes! This is very good! I think I am by nature/nurture a negative person. I recognize that it sucks life and energy to dwell on the negative so I am working to grow past this naggly little part of my spirit. I am forever looking for models of positivity, but was recently surprised to have found myself annoyed by one of those perpetual optimists. It was not her optimism per se, but the realization that in many cases, her optimism was not for the benefit of the world, but simply a state of self-protective denial. Of course, my annoyance is due to the fact that it drives me to confront the same issue in my own life.
    I am learning that not all negative thoughts are negative. There are those that will serve us. There are those that will alert us to better ourselves and the world around us. We must be very careful that the pristine positive bubbles we so toil to construct for ourselves are not merely the equivalent of rose colored glasses. We must process our crap, own our flaws, and work to repair them. Then (and ONLY then)… if we dare…we may be empowered to confront others in love with the goal of enlightening them to their own errors; that they may begin the process of growing out of their crap too.

    • Dar Hosta says:

      This is interesting to me, Beth… I would not have guessed this about you from our correspondence! I like to call myself a cynical optimist. And, oddly, when I judge people on their optimism and try to determine if they are MY KIND of optimist or some kind of self-protecting pollyanna, I use arbitrary things like: Do they ever say the f-word? Do they drink? Do they ever say anything politically incorrect? Do they have anything that resembles checkers in their past? If the answer to most of these questions is ‘no’ I am afraid that we are not in the same Optimists Club. Rose colored glasses suck. But I do believe in enlightenment. And growing. And processing flaws, etc.

      We should have lunch.

  3. beth loveland says:

    Love the term cynical optimist! I think I view myself as negative because I tend to think in the long term and I usually find the flaw in something immediately upon exposure.Time has given me confidence in my assessments, but it is not particularly a trait in which I would take pride. I do so enjoy life, but those initial reactions tend to spoil things for me; and if I am not careful about how I say things, they can lead to hurt feelings and sour faces…lessons I have learned hard way. I have tried to retrain myself, but to no avail. However, I have learned to avoid picking things to death, examining every flaw and giving up when things have no appearance of wild success. Perhaps, the optimist’s view would be to be grateful for all the disasters I’ve avoided…the trouble I have saved others. But, oh to be the one who simply gets on the boat and enjoys the ride …to impending doom (ok. That was a bit plucky). Perhaps this is the process of learning the fine balance of living in reality and working toward the best – making friends with failure and smelling the occasional flower et al.
    Judging by your criterion, we must be birds of a feather…sometimes realistically cranky 😉
    Lunch. Sigh. You should come to NE GA!! We’ve got mountains and waterfalls and beautiful places to run 🙂

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