Today, I read a couple of “focus only on the good” posts. I agree with the spirit of the sentiment. A positive outlook, even in the midst of turmoil, is a good objective.
But. There is always a “but.” In one case, a quote came from an artist who clearly doesn’t follow his own advice. He’s been negative in some contexts, marginalizing groups and people with broad strokes. Granted, that is his “job.” I’m not mentioning him by name, as there’s no point in starting a specific tit-for-tat with defensive sparring. Like everyone else, me included, he is a hypocrite. You and I can learn from anyone, even if they only provide us with a single glorious quote. The problem is that we all read greater context into such quotes, stretching them erroneously to cover situations that don’t fall to the level of a “positive outlook.”
There’s nothing worse than a world full of negativity shushers, actively oblivious to the real pain and suffering in everyone’s lives. (A “shusher” is someone who attempts to lessen or quiet expression.) We certainly don’t want a room full of negativity, that’s for certain. It drains our ability to live expressive lives. However, if I’m at the library and a librarian is looking over her glasses at someone talking, all the while loudly hissing “Shhhhh,” it is the librarian being a pain. In my analogy, the negativity shushers are like a gaggle of people telling everyone else to “be positive.”
There are people right now in our lives discovering they have cancer, or finding out that they’ve lost their job unexpectedly, through no fault of their own, and won’t be able to afford insurance. Perhaps, they are struggling with racism or homophobia, issues that aren’t on your daily radar. In other words, they are releasing their pain and suffering like human beings always have. They may not be able to reveal their entire truth at this moment. What you perceive as negativity may in fact just be normal expression of frustration or circumstances.
As with the inherent flaw in prosperity gospel, those who espouse constant positivity sometimes go too far and sometimes silence or cloister people’s real need to share their trials and tribulations. Sometimes, those things that seem minor to you, such as losing $50 to an ATM, are monumental to the person expressing them. Often, the people in question have suffered a clump of unpleasant or unlucky experiences. We want people to be able to share their stories and lives with us.
I see so many churning for being positive, not realizing that in many contexts, almost anything sounds negative to an unwelcoming mind.
In other words, “It’s only negativity when other people are saying it.”