Let’s talk about cooking for a bit, shall we? Imagine a big pot of your favorite comfort food slowly simmering on the stove. It might be stew, or chili, or potato soup, or gumbo, or veggie soup. You’ve been working on it all day, and you just taste tested it; it may be your best batch ever. Perfectly seasoned, perfect texture, perfect blend of ingredients. You can’t wait to sit down and have a nice big serving, maybe two. But then someone comes along and throws in a big chunk of rancid meat. Or a tiny vial of poison. Or a ladle of sewage. Suddenly you’re not so apt on eating that perfect bowl of comfort food.
There are a lot of phrases we use to symbolize this idea: one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel, a little yeast leavens the whole batch, etc. While I’m not sure it’s quite as absolute as my above example (would you just scoop out the offending item and eat a bowl anyway?), I truly believe that even little bits of negative garbage can have a drastic effect on our lives. And if it happens often, it becomes a real problem.
If we surround ourselves with people who put us down, put others down, or put themselves down, we’re going to end up being down. That’s just how it works. It’s even worse if WE’RE the person putting everyone down, including ourselves. Think about the things that come out of your mouth (or end up as your Facebook status): I hate my boss; he/she is horrible. I can’t stand so-and-so; they’re so intolerable. I hate my body; I wish x-y-z was different/prettier/better. The reason the country is being ruined is because of (insert least favorite politician here). If you find that statements like these outweigh more positive statements, you may want to rethink that choice.
Do you really want to be the one who chucks poison or sewage in everyone else’s stew? Do you want to continue to throw those things into your own stew?
Perhaps your boss IS horrible. But if you do in fact have a boss, that means you’re employed. And while circumstances are not an excuse for being horrible to another human being, you don’t know your boss’s back story. There may be something going on that is consuming his life right now, or something in his past that has left him like that.
Maybe your body is not exactly how you’d like it to be. Stop focusing on what you hate about it. Change the things you can (and be patient because it doesn’t happen overnight), and stop whining about the things you can’t change. Find something about your body that you really like, and think of that when another self-berating thought pops up.
I know everyone gets sick sometimes, and I don’t have the least bit of problem with the occasional, “Ugh, this illness is really kicking my butt” statement. But if every single post is whining about every single ache and pain, people begin to wonder if anything good ever happens to you.
And I said I was pretty much going to avoid politics on this blog, but I have seen so much negative garbage lately, it makes me ill. I have seriously considered “un-friending” some people just because their status updates are nothing but constant political poison. Regardless of your political affiliations, there are two things you need to get through your skull: one person cannot single-handedly destroy our nation, nor can one person single-handedly bring it out of the difficulties we’re in. Nobody has that much power. If you disagree, you were clearly not paying attention in government/economics in high school. I invite you to educate yourself–there’s this really cool resource called the internet that’s great for that sort of thing. I might recommend that you avoid sites that pat you on the back for spewing poison, though. That’s not really going to help the issue. Nor is it likely to educate you.
I’ll admit it’s not an easy habit to break. You have to completely retrain your mind. And hijack your mouth, most of the time. And then you’ve got to nail those internal thoughts as well. Like I’ve said before, you can’t control when a negative thought pops into your brain, but you CAN decide how long it gets to stay there, and whether it makes it out of your mouth (or onto your FB page).
While I didn’t make a New Year’s resolution (not really my thing), I do intend to continue working to improve myself in this area. I have a ways to go yet, but I think progress has been made. It’s very important to me that I am a source of positive input to my friends and family instead of being a constant rain cloud. Excuse my Pollyanna moment for the day, but I’d rather be a ray of sunshine.
One of my favorite quotes from my favorite episode of Doctor Who:
The Doctor, after Amy is heartbroken that they couldn’t save a friend: “The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant. We definitely added to his pile of good things.”
May I always be mindful of whether I am adding to others’ piles of good things, and may I not add to their pile of bad things.