Me, a bundle of joy.

Me, a bundle of joy.

Negativity. I’ll admit, I’ve never been a ray-of-sunshine, happy go lucky person. I complain. I expect the worst. It’s in my nature. I’ll never be a “glass half full” person. However, I’ve been trying to be just a dash more positive. Like adding a spoonful of sugar to help the cynicism go down. So, I am here to describe some positive ideas, and probably sound corny and disingenuous in the process. Look, I’m even negative about being positive! See the purpose of the exercise?   


    So, here’s what I’m trying. 


   I try to practice gratitude. Reminding yourself of the blessings you have is important, despite how pointless it sounds. Gratitude- being appreciative of all you have and all you’ve been given- not only keeps you humble, but also allows you to see that life isn’t the nightmare that it may seem at times. When you feel you have nothing going for you, it’s good to remind yourself of what you do have. Whether it be a family member or friend who makes you smile, a comfortable room, or not having an allergy, we all have something we can appreciate. It’s easy to forget and hard to remember. But it’s important. 


  The school guidance counselor, Mrs. Cannon, knows a lot about gratefulness. She helps students at Lincoln-Way Central every day, and she told me the following: “Studies show that gratitude improves our wellbeing. The more we focus on gratitude and share it with others, the more we notice ways to be thankful every day. Write down three things you are grateful for each day-even really small details-and see what happens!” 

    There’s two people you can affect with a negative attitude: yourself and others.  


    Being negative to yourself is, surprisingly, not good for you. One thing I’ve learned over my hefty 16 years of life is that self-deprecation, even as a joke, is not always the best thing. It’s perfectly fine to occasionally poke fun at yourself. But constantly making fun of yourself and putting yourself down is never good.  

   One thing I’ve been doing recently is making jokes about how great I am. I encourage you to do the same. Saying, “I can’t hear you over how hot I am” is a much better energy (and much less uncomfortable) than “I look like an egg today”. Even If you aren’t doing this around other people, affirming in your head how trash you are isn’t exactly going to give you a gold star for best mental health. This may sound cliché, and it 100% is, but self-love is important. Constantly torturing yourself with ridicule is just going to destroy your self-image. Simply saying, “I look good today, I love my hair,” makes a difference. Hype yourself up. You might think that this is useless- you won’t believe it anyways. But gaslighting your brain is easier than you might think. Convince yourself that it’s true. Channel your inner manipulative boyfriend, except instead of “You’re crazy,” it’s “You’re super cool.” It’s worth a try. Who knows, you might just start to believe it. 

     Negative people can be exhausting to surround yourself with. I’ve been that person. I think we’ve all been, and it’s hard to break out of. Complimenting those around you and praising their accomplishments makes you someone people want to be around. Nobody wants the embodiment of the Muppet critics in their social circle. So, consider being a bit nicer, while still bullying them when comedic. The perfect friendship balance. 

       Despite everything I’ve just preached, you don’t want to be that person. The “see the silver  lining”, “it’s not that bad” person. Your dog dies? “He’s in a better place!” You fail a math test? “At least you know what to practice!” Growth mindset.

     Nothing makes a bad day worse than getting the whole it’s not all bad shpeel from the human version of a poster in a counselor’s office saying, “Smile More!”  

     But what’s so bad about seeing the bright side of everything? My issue is that sometimes there is no bright side. Sometimes things just suck. And that’s okay. It’s okay to be mad, or upset, or just plain sad. And trying to hide those feelings with a smile may seem appealing, but it’s really just a funny little thing called suppressing your emotions!  

     However, this doesn’t mean you should always see the worst in a situation. If you get an A, you shouldn’t be beating yourself up because you didn’t get an A+. In my opinion, this is one of the worst things you can do. If you’re always downplaying your achievements, it’s impossible to be content. Sometimes it’s good to think on the positive side. Sometimes you should let yourself see that it’s not all bad. Constantly seeing the worst in everything can blind you to the good.  

     So, is it good to have a positive or negative attitude? I think it’s an important mix of both. Try to see the good, but acknowledge the bad. But most importantly, never ever buy an “happy quote of the day” calendar. That’s not being touched after January 10th at the latest. Has anyone ever used those?