Confession: Negativity is actually one of my pet Peeves.
Reminder: I am an extreme optimist, so rejecting negativity should not surprise you.
So while working today, I had a former coworker come in and catch up with another one of my current coworkers. I thought the former coworker was a super chill, cool guy from all my past experiences, so what followed ended up surprising me. For the next 40 minutes, these two friends talked about all the negative experiences they’ve had with this company, leading to why the first one quit and why the second one was desperately seeking a new job. I like to keep peace, so I wasn’t going to just tell them to stop talking, but after twenty minutes, I couldn’t help myself: I felt like I had to defend the company in which I’ve invested five years of my life. Interestingly, neither of them objected against my defenses; they just wanted to talk about the bad times from the past.
This sort of negativity drives me crazy – as it would most optimists – but more than that, I saw it as a weight dragging down both of these two young coworkers (I say young, but they are both probably two years older than me). Negativity can take your energy and attitude to a whole new bottom level. But before my pessimistic and realistic friends feel attacked, let me address the distinction I am making.
Realism is seeing the world as it “really is.” Negative and positive are both held together to see the “true” reality (the only reason true is in quotes is because everyone still sees reality from a personal perspective). My pessimistic friends often see the negative, but that is not necessarily a bad things – seeing the negative may prepare them to deal with the outcomes, or even cheer them up when things turn out better than expected. I am addressing neither of those terms. I am focusing on negativity – the attitude of letting the negative aspects of life/job/relationship/school/whatever impact the way you live – to the detriment of those around you.
You may currently be living in a rough patch of life. You may be dealing with consequences of your own choices or you may be handling unfortunate, unforeseen events. In either case, how you let these circumstances affect you and your interactions with other people is very important. You can help other people or harm other people, just by the way you let negativity affect your life. Case in point: I was talking with a friend who is five years older than my mother, and she shared the story of her own husband’s crazy credit card spending and how he plowed their family into so much debt and then divorced and left her. Despite this, my friend is kind and loving to everyone I’ve seen her encounter. She smiles, she treats people with attention and respect, and she remains thankful for little things in life, despite the hard circumstances she’s gone through. This is someone who probably has the right to let negativity affect her. But she pushes on and seeks better things in life. She is not an optimist (I would describe her as a realist), but she does not dwell on negativity. I can point you back to the opening situation and I hope that illustrates the stark contrast negativity can be.
I do not ask for everyone to be an optimist like me; that would be naive. What I instead ask of you is that you do not let harsh circumstances or negative situations permeate your character. You don’t have to love your job just because you have it; but you do need to have the respect not to bash or attack your job or author when circumstances are undesirable. Negativity will drag you down – it’s a heavy weight that begins to shape who you are. It’s a big, fat, heavy dragon that wants to bite down and never let go. Do not give this dragon the chance. Stop negativity before it begins.
And what about those who are dealing with negativity right now? To those who have it around you, I say first, find a friend you can share the burden with. I am blessed with an amazing fiancee who let me vent to her for 20 minutes before writing this blog. Trust me, it helps to share that burden. And to those are are experiencing negativity (undesirable circumstances in your life that make you talk and act and think differently), I say this: Keep your head above the negative waters. You have family and friends and role models who believe in you. If you feel you don’t, I point you towards the Savior Jesus who undoubtedly would take you by his side and grieve with you concerning your negative situations. But please, keep in mind how the negativity affects your coworkers, your family, your loved ones, your friends, and your own self. There is more to life than one day or one job or one annoyance.
May you conquer the dragons of negativity trying to weigh you down, and may you ride the beautiful dragons that come alongside you to defeat the rest of those evil dragons. Peace be with you.