What would happen if you CHOSE positivity?

“Man has almost infinite ability to take things for granted”

Aldos Huxley

How grateful are you? If you had to place your gratefulness level on a scale of 1-10—where do you rate yourself?

It is an intentionally ~silly question: how the f*ck do you “score” your gratefulness? What is the difference between a 4 and a 7? Ignore the precision. This is me telling you (and by you, I in some ways mean ME), to just shut up and try!! It only takes a second (or three).

In answering, or rather trying to answer the prompt, my mind immediately enters the neurotic treadmill: “Grateful…For what? For being alive? For not being dead? For being able to breathe? And walk? For having people in my life that care about me? For having shelter?”

I bring it back to the center and shut up. But I just wanted to acknowledge that I feel that gravitational pull—too—to LEAVE the feelings state and enter the cognitive state and AVOID answering the core question (aside, I do this sometimes. I get wrapped up in the technicalities to (probably) protect myself from the CORE. I distract myself with details. I lose the forest from the trees (or whatever that quote is really talking about).

Okay, in real time now, I am shutting up. I am answering the prompt. I rate myself a 3 out of 10 on the HOLY GRATEFULNESS SCALE (yes, the one I just invented). Again, being blunt, I think I skew towards NOT FEELING GRATEFUL (as opposed to, say, APPRECIATING LIFE). I would say this is a fairly consistent score. It sometimes wavers—but for the past several years, I would say I would answer a ~ 3 MOST of the time.

(In thinking about it deeply, I think my score wavers in ways I did not entirely expect. For example, when something really bad happens to me (or at least something I define as ~really bad but is still just relatively mediocre on a global human experience scale), like spraining my ankle so I cannot walk for a month, I tell myself: “NEVER EVER FORGET HOW AMAZING WALKING IS. BE GRATEFUL FOR WALKING.” I give myself this reminder, yet, today, just a year removed from my “TERRIBLE ANKLE INJURY,” I do not think, for a moment even, to appreciate my ability to walk.” Silly, no? How quickly you forget what you are grateful for…)

I return to the prompt of gratefulness and appreciation—and I ask myself WHY? Why am I not more grateful? Why am I not more appreciative of all the MIRACLES THAT HAVE HAPPENED AROUND ME? Of all my luckiness? Of all the good?

I do have a LOT of things to celebrate and be grateful for. Yet, my mind does not wander in their direction often.

WHY do I skew negative?

(A note—I do not think of myself as someone who is never happy or even rarely happy. I certainly go through seasons of unhappiness (2023 probably has had more unhappy days than any other year of my life. Does gratefulness correlate to happiness? That is perhaps another prompt to explore.).

So why am I attracted to the COMPLAINING VECTOR rather than the CONSTRUCTIVE vector? And what would happen if I chose—even for an experiment of sorts—to intentionally hop aboard the POSITIVITY TRAIN more often?

So why adopt negative over positive? Inertia _may_ be an answer. It may be easier to play the role of the victim rather than the hero. The victim can just react. and blame others. The victim can feel comforted by the idea (not saying a true idea, but idea nonetheless) that the WORLD IS OUT TO GET THEM. The victim can escape responsibility. The victim can sit back and DIFFUSE BLAME.

But is the victim really a victim? Is this really an accurate story?

What is the point of life if you default to playing the victim role? Is it a fun life? An empowering life? A productive life?

My intuition tells me that it is POSSIBLE to play the VICTIM CARD at every hand. No matter the situation—be it good or bad—it is certainly POSSIBLE to find a way to blame others for the circumstance.

Except.

And here is the big except. Wait, now THE BIG EXCEPT.

Except, I find that people (myself included) default towards adoption of THE VICTIM ROLE when things are BAD and default to the HERO CARD when things are good…

Not a novel take, but think about it for a moment (not a commandment, but I am thinking about this!).

Why is it that it is so hard for me to INTERNALIZE THE GRATEFULNESS of things being good AND SO EASY to create and believe in a VICTIM STORY when things are bad?

Do you see the paradox? Do you see how these are examples of me selectively choosing when to play which character? What is driving this selection? What is the selection criteria? And perhaps more importantly, why does it happen?

Do you find this happening to you as well?

A note is that I am not saying I always default in these directions. In fact, I probably assume hero card way more often than the average benchmark. Sometimes this is viewed as narcissism. Sometimes I get feedback (from others but also myself) that I am not being grateful enough for all the luck / those around me. Sometimes I get feedback that I am too harsh on myself.

But I do not want to listen to that feedback. I think that playing life as the hero—the kind, grateful, curious hero IS the most empowering and fulfilling way to live. I am not interested in auditioning for the victim. For blaming the world only for the negative and for taking credit for the positive. This is not a healthy character (in my opinion).

I want to be the hero that takes no credit, but knows in their heart that they can ALWAYS make an impact on the world around them.

This sounds like a very positive quality but can also be a dangerous quality. Always making an impact on the world around you means biasing towards CONTROL. Control, or at least trying to control everything, can be a tricky aspiration. It can be tricky because it impacts those around you but also difficult because it is not ALWAYS attainable. So what do you do when you cannot obtain your aspiration OR your pursuit is not working as well as you would like?

Do you still play the hero card or do you fall victim to the victim mindset?

This is a question you must ask yourself more than once. In fact, on the hero’s arc of life, you will find yourself experiencing some highs but the reality is that there are many lows. During each lower low, contrasted with each higher high, you may find yourself tempted to BLAME THE WORLD. Defaulting towards negativity.

But what would happen if you just CHOSE positivity?

What if you just accepted that THINGS WILL FEEL BAD but you chose the positive route? There’s always a positive route. Even if really really really bad things happen and your whole lens of life is filtered into a scary black and white.

There is always a positive route.

Sometimes you have to dig for it. Sometimes it hurts. But what if you just chose positive?


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