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Steps Toward Positivity

December 2, 2010

Confession: I’m somewhat of a negative person.  I try not to be, but somehow it is always easier to complain about all the things that are going wrong, rather than step back and realize all the wonderful that is going right.  I don’t know when I developed this habit.  Maybe it came about during my formative years with “middle child syndrome” and a far too analytical mind.  When I was ten, I was fixated for weeks on the idea that I had no identity after an elementary teacher accidentally called me by my sister’s name.  When my parents threw me a surprise 13th birthday party in middle school, I was so upset that the guest list was screwed up, that I spent the latter half of that evening crying in my parent’s bedroom.  My friends partied in my basement without me.  Leave it to me to find the negative at a surprise birthday.

But I’m working on it.  Joy is so much more compelling than anger.  Even though negativity is such an easy fall back, it is lightheartedness that draws people in.  We crave to be near those people who’s peace is untarnished by outside circumstances and who remind us that there is good, there is hope – in all.  I want to have contagious joy, even if it means completely restructuring my mental state to get there.  As I think over my week, there are already several jovial moments worth sharing.

Positivity #1: Annoying Kid Smiles

There is a young man I work with who, I admit, annoys me to no end.  He never intends to be annoying, but he is the type of guy who constantly asks questions when going about a task.  He needs constant reassurance that what he is doing is right, and I often find myself without patience and a sarcastic remark sticking out of my back pocket to get him to pipe down and be quiet.  I have noticed, however, that lately he seems to be trying to keep his comments to himself.  He seems to be picking up on the boundaries that my fellow co-workers and I have been setting.  He has been less abrasive, and has been going about his day-to-day business without his game of 20 Questions.

I handed him back a project he completed a few weeks ago.  I reviewed the assignment, and his work was truly remarkable.  I was impressed, and saw a side of him I hadn’t expected to see.  I simply placed the project with my feedback on his desk, and walked away.  I watched him open the portfolio gingerly, as if he was nervous.  He was slow to pull apart its contents, and read over my comments.  And then I saw it.  This very private, very shy, very humble smile that was not intended for anyone else to see.  The smile spread up to the corner of his eyes and I watched as the little wrinkles formed in the crevices.   There was no hiding the self-worth he felt in that moment.  I am glad I was around to secretly share in his celebration.

Positivity #2:  My Boss Doesn’t Wear Shoes

I am at work late on a Tuesday evening, and my body is aching for home.  It is pouring down rain and no one else is left in my building, and I am cursing to myself about the dreaded drive home while I walk out the door.  Just before I turn to leave, I notice the lights on in my boss’s office.  On a night where I am desperate to get home, I normally would have just kept walking out to my car.  But for whatever reason, I decided to poke my head in her office.

“Come over here,” she said, “help me take a look at this.”  I glance over her shoulder at a newsletter she is about to send out and help her make some editing changes.  She is in yoga pants and a sweatshirt – clearly having just come back from an exercise class.  Her bare feet hover just above the floor, and her shoes are kicked over to the side of her desk.  She seems so comfortable, so at home.  We chat for a few minutes, laugh about some of the events that happened that day, and she wishes me a good night as I head out of her office door.  What a gift to walk into my boss’s office and feel so welcome there.  What a gift to feel like she makes time for me at work the same way she would if I walked into her own home.  Not everyone is lucky enough to work for that caliber of a woman.

Positivity #3: Garth, and Some Others

I am enjoying this challenge of looking for things to celebrate.  It moves me forward in a quest to be a positive human being.  Today I watched Garth Brooks sing “The Dance” on Oprah, and it brought tears to my eyes.  Literally.  He was crying, the audience was crying, and I was on my couch crying.  Even better than Garth (if there could be such a thing), my brother scored the game winning goal in a major collegiate soccer game a few days ago, and the momentum has yet to die down.  The goal was, quite simply, soccer magic.  And yesterday, I got a much anticipated email from my favorite cousin who is away at school.  I am still surprised by the excitement I feel when we exchange our stories.  I realize now that my list could go on.

As Emily Bronte wrote in Wuthering Heights, “it was not the thorn bending to the honeysuckle, but the honeysuckle embracing the thorn.”  So it goes with my steps toward positivity.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. mzeigler2008 permalink
    December 3, 2010 3:50 pm

    you are an amazing writer!!!!!

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