This is the modern day dilemma, I posit, for every thinking human being. We are smothered in waves of negativity. How do I live that positive life we hear so much about? It is to be noted that there is no optimistic or cynical reality. Life is what it is — a series of incidents unfolding in time. What is true, however, is that I fully “color” my consciousness. What I see is. My worldview is the net sum of me.
If I view the events that occur on a daily basis as the pessimistic reality of our unfolding in history, there is no way I can escape a foreboding feeling for Earth — and my place on her. If on the other hand, I believe that life is actually fruitful and hopeful regardless of the pain and suffering endured by many, then I am acquainted with a totally different life.
This leads to several abominable problems. It is very arduous to influence and change anyone when they’ve occupied a certain way of thinking. It is also very difficult to believe that someone thinks differently than you do. You need patience and awareness to mature. I was 14 when I got my first job. I lived in an industrial village and on the weekend the crew buses from a local logging company had to be cleaned. My brothers and I got this contract.
Some of the working men were a rough unsophisticated lot, so there was a certain amount of filth. It was not an easy job, though we had exposure to actuality. What was most interesting for me was that my home was always very clean and orderly. Here was the exact opposite. If lunch was eaten inside a vehicle during a wet day, the detritus went on the floor. I had never seen this kind of disorder. My first job exposed me to the vagaries of life. What was it like to be an adult? It was obviously not easy.
Our present crop of young people, however, have no such experiences, for the most part. They are exposed to an inordinate amount of study that produces a type of sheltering. The campus-like atmosphere of most universities, and their rarefied crop of professors, (1) further isolate students from the “real world.” They graduate with a false sense of work and are unprepared for the ephemeral nature of life and its soul-destroying, capitalist-based, employment.
When a person finally stumbles into free enterprise, the shock is often stunning — scarring a person for the rest of their financial life. (2) What is implicit in all this is a fear of money, an enormous curse. When you read the income levels of the elites, the billionaires, (3) they appear so estranged from real life that it is difficult to place them in human terms. They are like Greek gods living on Mt. Olympus. (4) It is terrifying when you see your measly paycheck in comparison.
So if you want to stay positive in a negative world, three beliefs are necessary: Firstly the assumption that I create my attitude to life, I am in control, whatever the circumstances. Secondly, an education + experience leads to expertise — and this takes hard work and time. Thirdly, and most important of all, my success is not based on pecuniary gain, lucre is important but not enough to ruin my life. Achievement is based on the honest efforts that I give to my duties, my mission.
The eminent psychologist, Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (5), leaves us with a thought: To overcome the anxieties and depressions of contemporary life, individuals must become independent of the social environment to the degree that they no longer respond exclusively in terms of its rewards and punishments. To achieve such autonomy, a person has to learn to provide rewards to herself. She has to develop the ability to find enjoyment and purpose regardless of external circumstances.”
A closing thought: It is true that when I awaken in the morning, I can decide whether it will be a positive or a negative day. This is very easy to say, but tremendously hard to put into practice. The only way to overcome the onslaught of angst that assaults the average individual is to give yourself time to steady your psyche before you start your day. Develop a routine of positivity: make your bed, wash, write in your notebook, exercise, and then approach the day. This mental respite will assist you in your journey. (6)
To sum up: This week we spoke about staying positive in a negative world. The answer is that it is not a positive or negative life, it is only my perception of it that matters to me.
To be noted: From Oscar Wilde — Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.
This week, on your thoughtful walk, please reflect on how you see your life and the world itself.
Every day look for something magical and beautiful.
Quote: Beauty is always in front of me if I want it.