Negativity is a silent force of destruction, yet goes unnoticed and unchallenged by millions.
I wonder sometimes if I’ve been a negative person since my first breath.
I look at pictures of myself as a child, and all the smiles seem forced. I know I was bullied a great deal, and extremely unhappy at times, but did that cause my negativity, or feed it?
I don’t know, and there’s no use crying over the proverbial spilled milk. I can only control today and tomorrow, not yesterday.
Negativity has almost cost me my marriage a couple times. Once, my wife, Laura—who is my heart, my spirit, my smile—broke down in tears, and said, “You’re just so depressed. You’re so negative, and I don’t know how to help you. Even spending time with Joshy (our grandson, who was only about two-years-old at the time) doesn’t make you smile anymore.”
This hurt me deeply, not because of what she SAID, but because I was once again reminded of the impact having a negative spirit can have on those around me. I try to smile more now, but sometimes I still feel like that pudgy nine-year-old, forcing a smile for the camera.
Maybe you can relate.
I think it’s imperative we take a break every now and then and re-evaluate ourselves. How do we react to friends and family? What are the words we say? HOW do we say those words? Do we smile or sigh when we say them? Do our eyes light up around others, or do they roll in exasperation? Do we lift others up or tear them down? Do we ENcourage or DIScourage?
People are so hungry for light, positivity, laughter, joy, hope, love and kindness!
Take a look at the opposites of all those words and see if you ever fall into any of these categories: darkness, negativity, sadness, sorrow, despair, hatred and anger.
I’m sure you do. Everybody has their down times, I think, even if they are few and far between for some.
Over Christmas break I was watching the animated movie “8 Crazy Nights, “and in “Davey’s Song,” Creator/Writer/Star Adam Sandler sings, “I hate love – I hate you – I hate me.”
There was a time I felt like that, for sure. I would “joke” that I was an “equal opportunity hater.” That was the past, though, and I am now aware it’s difficult, if not impossible, to simultaneously harbor a negative spirit and maintain healthy relationships.
“When you speak healing words, you offer fruit from the tree of life. But unhealthy, negative words do nothing but crush their hopes. (Proverbs 15:4, emphasis added)”
One day a few years ago I could hear my wife and son laughing and carrying on from the other room. I walked in and the laughter died a bit. “How ya doin’, dad?” my son asked. “I’m hurtin’, buddy. Just hurting, as usual. I’m sick of this chronic pain in my back and legs! It never lets up, man.” A few minutes later I was complaining about some trivial matter or another, and then when I walked out of the room, I heard a sound which pierced my soul:
No more laughter.
Had my negativity killed their good time? I thought I’d test it out.
I walked back in and started joking around with them. I smiled, and even hugged my son when he stood up to go to the kitchen. “Hey what’s up, you ok?” he asked. “I just love you is all,” I replied.
Then, an hour or so later I walked back out of the room and listened.
And there it was:
Beautiful, glorious laughter. Jokes. Love.
“Negativity is an addiction to the bleak shadow that lingers around every human form…you can transfigure negativity by turning it toward the light of your soul.” John O’Donohue, Irish poet, author and priest.
That’s why I try hard to not let pain and darkness get me down. I pray a lot more. I laugh a lot more. I smile a lot more. I worship God a lot more.
Yes, worship. This may sound NUTS to some, but in worship, I found a joy I never thought possible. I noticed it one day when I was at church. During the worship service, I suddenly became aware I was smiling. And not just any smile; a huge, glowing smile.
These days, I also try to tell my wife every day that she’s beautiful and loved. I hug my kids and grandkids, and tell them I’m proud of them. Not for what they want to be someday, but for who they are today.
Look, all I’m saying is this: be mindful of your attitude.
It’s possible YOU are the “mood-killer” in your house, just like I used to be.
Life is too short for negativity, my friend. BELIEVE me, I spent decades there, and it almost destroyed me.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:8)”
Many blessings to you and yours.