Monday, December 7, 2009

Positivity vs. Mush-mindedness




Recently, I got a comment from a reader that seemed to imply my blog was a bit too chipper.
Those of you who know me know I can be a bit of a pollyanna-- and I can also be complainy, cranky, and overwhelmed by the negative.  I think I am pretty average there.  I try, though, to make decisions on where I am giving my energy.  As I said in the last post, I have as many troubles as blessings.  But the research is clear on the restorative effects of positive psychology:  being grateful, tending to community, keeping an open mind, seeing a bigger picture.  Being hijacked by suffering does not help the sufferer, whether it's me or another.  It's not that I don't acknowledge it.  It's not that I don't sometimes indulge it.  It simply works better when I don't live there all the time.  

There's a difference between positivity and a sort of glib refusal to acknowledge reality. It's a bad idea to dismiss feelings, whether positive or negative.  I think we have to learn about and figure out how to integrate our shadow material so it's not running us.   I'm not a fan (though it may work well for some) of books like The Secret which seem to imply we can wish our way into everything we want.  It's close to delusional to assume somehow we can get a free ride from pain in our lives.  But we do have some control over what we feed ourselves, both externally and internally.  I want respite from the spate of negativity and cynicism that serves for information/entertainment in our culture, and that's what I do here.



This was, aptly,  the poem of the day on Joe Riley's wonderful list-serve.  To see the archives, visit panhala.net.  To join the group and have a poem a day delivered to your email address, send a blank email to this address.

Speech to the Young.
Speech to the Progress-Toward.


Say to them,
say to the down-keepers,
the sun-slappers,
the self-soilers,
the harmony-hushers,

"Even if you are not ready for day
it cannot always be night."
You will be right.
For that is the hard home-run.

Live not for battles won.
Live not for The-End-of-the- Song.
Live in the along.

~ Gwendolyn Brooks ~

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