It almost seems that no matter where you turn, someone is complaining about something or someone. Liberal-conservative, male-female, white-black, old-young, fat-thin, rich-poor, religious-atheist: it is so easy to pick a group to which you identify and vilify a diametrically opposed group or person. People confuse complaining about injustice and identifying how wrong a particular group is with bringing positive change to the world and to the people in and around your life. To me, positive change in the world comes directly from each person's positive interaction with the world - it does not arise from a continuous stream of complaints and vilification in the name of correcting injustice.
Over the years, I have been just as guilty of this as any other person reading this (if anyone actually reads this), but slowly I have made a determined effort to live by one specific rule: "Don't be an ass." - based not so loosely on Wheatons' Law. However, that is a pretty ambiguous and all-encompassing statement and so, privately, I have tried to turn that into a set of rules for myself - with the aim of turning positive thinking into positive living, which translates directly in a more positive and hopeful world.
So today I thought I would share my personal philosophy with you. These are all aimed at making not only me a better person but, by extension, the world. If I am a better and more positive person, then I can impart that upon the world around me.
- Choose to be Positive: this is by far the hardest step. It is easy to remain negative and in particular, it is not always obvious that one can choose to be positive. Some times bad things happen, but it is up to me to find the positive. By doing so, I choose to handle the situation the best that I can, and knowing that I choose my own attitude empowers me, and no one can that away take from me.
- Everything is a Learning Experience: in every situation there is good and bad and sometimes finding the good is hard - very hard. But it is up to me to learn from what is happening and incorporate that learning experience back into my life. By learning from the situation, you inherently find the positive and that is what carries forward.Not every situation is immediately fixable, but every situation does carry an experience from which I can learn.
- Take Care of Myself: only if I am mentally and physically healthy, can I truly gain what is offered by life and only then can I impart back on to the world a constructive and positive attitude. Self-doubt is the most insidious enemy of self-care. It is easy to turn on yourself, but if you don't care for yourself, who will? For me personally, this is the most difficult step and the one with which I struggle the most.
- Love: this is, by far, what we do best (thank you HIMYM). Don't shy away from it and hide it, but rather, embrace it, share it, expand it, and show it. And I don't necessarily mean love in the sense of a lover, but rather love your family, your friends, your pets, the sky ... whatever. Love is an emotion that, like all emotions, gets buried away if it remains unused. Don't save it for some rainy day - use it and enjoy it.
- Work Hard, Play Hard: positive living grows from self-fulfillment which comes from knowing that you have done your best. From there, you can be in a healthy place for yourself and for the world around you. Not everything will work out and sometimes you will screw up. That is all ok - failure is part of life; taking responsibility for yourself and your community turns that failure into a positive. In short: Have fun, sleep well, and tell good stories.
On a daily basis, do I succeed at each of these? Of course not! But by keeping these goals in mind, I strive to improve not only myself but the world around me. All those lofty goals preached to you every day by someone who thinks they know more (or better) than you - that doesn't work. True positive change does not come from shaming someone but only truly happens if we start with ourselves. The world is changed and bettered, not from without, but first from within.