“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
~Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan, 1893
Do you remember the 1970’s series of Mr Men? I always liked Mr Funny best, followed shortly after by Mr Pernickty, because I like the word ‘pernickty’ (also known as Mr Fussy). There were 49 Mr Men characters (followed by 42 Little Miss characters) but some years back I named a 50th Mr Men. That was my Dad, and I named him Mr Positive.
I need to start by saying that I mean no disrespect to my father, who has since died, and he was aware and amused by my naming of him, so I am sure he would have no problem with what I write.
Dad was the ultimate positive person. He wasn’t just a ‘glass half full’ man but rather a ‘glass overflowing with your favourite drink, even when all you can see is a few drops in the bottom’ man. This had to be a good thing, especially when in his job he spent a lot of time helping other people in some very dire circumstances. The thing is though that when you’re the ‘glass half empty with a hole in the bottom of the glass’ daughter, with a tendency toward severe depression, all this positive stuff could be a little grating at times, to say the least.
Some people, including my Dad, took the view that to pull me out of my depression I needed the good things in life pointed out, and Dad had a knack of being able to see good in absolutely everything. For me though, love him as I did, I hated it and would want to crawl into oblivion because I happened to know that there simply wasn’t good in everything. Actually sometimes there is bad. Sometimes we get hurt and unexplainable tragedies occur, and that it is very difficult to see how there could possibly be any good in them.
Dad would say “life is good!” and his pessimistic, depressed daughter, if given half the chance, would say “bollocks!” And there we would come to a friendly but frustrated impasse, me unable to see his view and him unable to see mine.
What I’m realising now that if it had been possible to put our two views together then we might have got somewhere, instead of me simply putting my hands over my ears and saying “Mr Positive, Mr Positive, Mr Positive” while pretending it all didn’t exist.
Yesterday I wrote My ‘Anti-Social Media’ Day expressing my frustration with the level of negativity to be often found on Facebook. What concerned me was that when we fill our minds with negative things, then we run the risk of becoming that negativity. I think Dad would be smiling at that, because while I still don’t like a blind ‘everything is great’ attitude, there is some definite advantages to some positive thinking. (Yes, Dad I really did just write that).
Several people commented to me after that post that achieving a balance is what is necessary, and I totally agree. If all I see is negative then that is all I know, but to take out some of that negative and replace it with positive means that I get to know something good. And so I took some steps to limit the negative posts arriving on my news feed. I ‘unliked’ a few things and restricted what I see from some other sources. I also walked away from my computer for a good while, and spent some time with people who have a positive effect on me. Already I feel better. Already I don’t have that ‘sinking to the bottom of my boots’ feeling when I have to see some of that stuff on my screen.
I will never become Little Miss Positive, because I recognise and acknowledge that there is bad in this world, there is hurt and not everything is good. But I am starting to realise the importance of what I let into my mind. not only by what I see on my screen but even in the people I spend my time with, and how I let them influence me.
I am realising that I have the control over what influences me. It’s my choice. I’m not denying that negative happens, and I’m not turning my back on people who are trapped for now in a sea of negativity, but I am finding ways to ensure that doesn’t turn me into a negative person.
I suspect I will always have a natural tendency to ‘glass half empty’. I always have, regardless of the state of my mental health, but I can work with that and I can simply enjoy that I have a glass and it has something in it. And that is enough for me.
“The sun shines and warms and lights us and we have no curiosity
to know why this is so; but we ask the reason of all evil,
of pain, and hunger, and mosquitoes and silly people.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
- My ‘Anti-Social Media’ Day (infnitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)
- Happiness Is… (infnitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)
- Positive thinking: Reduce stress by eliminating negative self-talk (aaramblog.com)
- Half-empty vs. Half-full glass (euzicasa.wordpress.com)