Monday, September 3, 2012

Be Happy Happy Happy

I love this article that was in the Sydney Morning Herald.

It's about how some smart folks are critical of the whole think-positive movement. One of them is an Aussie social researcher, Hugh Mackay. He worries about over-achievers and kids who feel they must always please their parents.  It's the dissatisfaction-over-a-silver-medal syndrome.  

There's also a British guy in the mix. I like this quote that the article has from him:

Motivational books, tapes and seminars might leave you feeling briefly excited, but that feeling fades. Which is, a cynic might suggest, how motivational speakers and self-help authors guarantee themselves a reliable income: if their products delivered lasting change, they would have less repeat customers.

I just read one of those books, though it was in the guise of fiction: Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol.   It's like The Secret and What The Bleep Do We Know turned into a novel.

I enjoyed the novel to some extent. It was actually quite a page-turner. But at times, the philosophy in it became a bit too heavy-handed. I felt I was being preached at, which would be fine if I had been reading a self-help book. If you pick up a self-help book, expect some preaching. If you read my blog, expect it too.

It's different, though, with fiction.  At least, I think so. 

As for being positive, I like a balanced approach.

I'm very positive in some aspects of my life. I'm negative about other aspects.

I think I'm a positive realist.

I have low expectations...or at least I try to have them. Then I try to have gratitude for what I do have.

But having gratitude doesn't mean I ignore the bad things in my life. I DO feel pressured to do this, though.  I feel guilty when I think about the negative things. I feel guilty when I write about the negative things. There's this pressure to be happy and grateful and positive about every damn thing.

I have a wonderful life, but it's not 100% perfect. And sometimes I like to bitch about it.

Bitching too much is a problem, though. And I wouldn't blame people for wanting to avoid me if I did it all or most of the time.

I don't like being around people who are negative all the time.

I also don't like being around people who are overly positive.

I spent part of an evening, this summer, with one of these people. She was so smiley and grateful.   She got on my nerves, and it was a bit of a relief to say good-bye.

The general idea I get from the think-positive movement is that if you think positive you will gain financial security and success in your career.  Your wildest dreams can come true.

I personally think that's bullshit.

My way is to think as positively as possible about both the good stuff and bad stuff in your life. That can range from celebrating aspects of your life to simply accepting them. By accepting bad things, I don't mean you refrain from ever trying to change things. But there still can be acceptance. Either, I accept that this part of my life sucks, and it's not going to change. Or, I accept this part of my life sucks, and I accept that I need to make attempts to change it.  

I have parts of my life I dislike. But after many years of thinking, I've decided more grief would come to my life if I tried to make a dramatic change. Instead I've learned to live with it. Sometimes I'm sad about it.  Sometimes I'm mad. Sometimes I bitch about it. Other times, I think to myself, in the scheme of things. It's really not so bad.    

Life doesn't have to be perfect.

We don't have to be perfect.

We don't have to be rich and famous.

We don't have to climb the highest mountains.

We don't need to be positive and happy all the time.

We can just accept our life for what it is.

We can feel comfortable bitching occasionally about the bad stuff, and enjoy whatever good stuff comes our way.