It’s WAY Too Easy to Be Negative

With the world economy in its current state and stressful media messages barraging us every time we feel like we’re beginning to turn the corner, it’s not always easy to stay positive. So at the risk of being doubly negative, I ask ‘How can we not be negative?’

This was the question I personally faced a couple of days ago while driving through hectic, animosity-ridden Glendale, California. The Mercedes in front of me stopped short. A mile later, an Audi ran a red preventing me from making the light. A short time later, a Toyota turned without using its turn signal. “What idiots!” I hissed. “Doesn’t anyone know how to drive and be considerate anymore?”

My stress level hit a new high. Spurred on by another verbal diatribe on my favorite political radio station, I assured myself that the end of the world must be near, and good riddance when it did; people have become just too stupid to live.

And then the rest of the way home – nothing. No accidents. No close calls. No irritating inconsiderateness. And it suddenly hit me. In fact, I had to laugh at myself. Other than those three drivers who had made mistakes, everyone else seemed to know what they were doing. In fact, “Oh my God, I believe that nice person in the beat up  Chevy is actually waving me in.” I began to review all of the steps that each driver on the road had completed and how many of those steps were perfectly managed. I smiled at the driver who had just let me in. He smiled back. This made me smile for at least the next 100 feet, and I swear a couple of other drivers picked up on that, probably thinking I was smiling at them, and their frowns turned upside down.

Isn’t it amazing how we tend to focus on the few things that go wrong or the few people who don’t care about anyone but themselves. If we would only focus on all of the wonderful people who get it right, we might be surprised at how much goodness and social consciousness there really is in the world.

If I had to count how many people on the road drove appropriately during my brief excursion, probably 97 out of 100 were good. Despite the greed and political maneuvering we see too often in the world, if we look around at all of the wonderful people—those who serve their country, those who work hard to pay their bills, those who sincerely want to help others and contribute to society—we might find that the world is a far better place to live than we had imagined.

My brother who’s in his mid-50s shared with me the other day how he was passing a driver whose car had broken down. The driver was already out, door open, pushing his car out of the intersection. Now my brother is the type that’s always first to help, but this particular day he had an injury that made him think twice. While he was reconsidering, a young man hopped out of his vehicle, and another young woman hopped out of hers. Together, they helped the driver get his car safely out of traffic and to the side of the road.  I could almost hear my brother smiling over the phone as he shared the story with me. Their gestures of kindness reaffirmed his faith in his fellow man.

In a similar vein, two weeks ago I watched a You Tube video about several employees going out of their way to help a momma duck get her babies to water two blocks away in the middle of a busy city. It reminded me of a morning in Florida many years ago when I was stopped short (yes, that darn driver in front of me again!) while on my way to work. Irritated at first, almost immediately I realized what was going on.

Now all the cars for several cars back across the two lanes were stopped, and the drivers were looking at each other and smiling. A mother duck and her family of five waddled across the middle of the road as if they had a crosswalk built just for them. For one second, our morning was interrupted by something far more important than getting to work on time—we were all working together to protect and support life. It made my day. Even now, I can’t help  but tear up a bit as I think of all the wonderful people who shared that moment and how proud I am of each and every one of them.

The lesson here? Every day take a few minutes to turn the radio and the television and yes even your computer off. Get rid of all of the negative influences that cause us to focus on the bad behavior that we’re told makes ratings. Instead, focus on all the amazing things that actually went right. It’s a fun exercise and one, if practiced regularly, that can help you remain healthy, happy, and yes, positively old.

I’d love to hear your examples of people doing the right thing in small ways on a daily basis. Please share them with us here.

 

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