The Tyranny of Positivity

Negative Nellies – that’s the term people use to describe those embroiled in negative emotion. But is that fair? Are we judging people before we know what life is like for them? For example, my husband is very sick. Lately he has been battling a cough that makes it next to impossible for him to sleep at night, and consequently, me as well. He has a slew of health issues and is on several medications, which makes taking something for the cough problematic. Medications can interact with one another to make a bad situation even worse. It’s hard not to be negative when you’re sick and not getting the rest you need to recuperate.

And for me, lack of sleep combined with worry has made battling my negative demons even more of a challenge. Sometimes the societal demands to be positive when just putting one foot in front of another seems like a herculean task. Speaking for myself, it feels cruel. I am tired! So, can we cut one another a break? We don’t know what is going on in the lives of others. Can we set aside the judge’s robes and the demand for positivity?

Yes, positive emotions are easier to live with and a positive attitude is preferable to a negative one. Yet, we are all only human. Sometimes life is hard. Placing demands on people to be positive when we don’t know their situation or what issues they may be struggling with, is, frankly, inhumane in my view. Kindness and compassion will go a lot further to help people become more positive than the judgment and labeling of them as ‘negative nellies’.

Let’s be a little more gentle with ourselves, and with one another.

Weary and worn

Seeking, searching

Looking for a way to release the burden

Wrestling with unfairness

And wounds inflicted without cause

It would be so easy to lash out

To exact punishment and revenge

A path encumbered by rage

Rage, that stumbling block to peace

Oh, God, how I want peace

Do I stand and fight?

Do I forgive the wrongs?

How to let go

I go back and forth in my mind

Trying to decide what to do

What course to follow

To make it all right

Shall I hold them accountable

Or turn the other cheek?

Please, wisdom, come sit with me

I am wearied by the struggle

Serenity, where are you now?

Flown like the snowbirds

To find warmer climes

My heart, like ice within me, frozen

Warmth is needed and welcome now

I summon you

O spirit of truth

Help me see the way



Negative Ions in the Air?

I had a woman come to the front desk to ask to use the phone this morning. However, policy does not allow us to give people access to the phone. So, before I could explain that she got very angry as soon as she heard “no” and huffed off out the door calling out to someone not within my view, “see, I told you they wouldn’t help me”. Then she looks back at me gives me a very dirty look accompanied by a hand gesture (you know the one). Had she given me a chance I could have explained that she could go to guest services to use the phone there. Oh well. I had actually wanted to help her, but she did not afford me the opportunity.

No, this is not the end of my little story. There were a few grumpy adults today – perhaps there was an over abundance of negative ions in the air? But then again, I also was treated to the smiles and pleasant demeanor of several little people today – maybe they are not affected by negative ions?

I love working with the public. I really do. But today it was the little ones, the babies and children who brought their gifts of laughter, love, and lightness that made the grumpiness of a few adults of no real consequence. Their negativity melted away like fog on a summer’s day thanks to the sunny dispositions of my smallest patrons.

I am grateful. I am grateful that though I may have to deal with a few grumps now and then, for the most part people are friendly, understanding, and kind. Perhaps the ones who aren’t are struggling with something that is getting them down. I think the important thing to remember when faced with such a situation as I described at the beginning is not to take it personally – who knows what that person may be dealing with. But I am hopeful of a better day tomorrow – one without dirty looks and ‘sign language’. Cheers!