POSITIVE ISN'T ALWAYS POSITIVE
I'm frequently surprised by the number of people who tell me that they are trying to cope with the challenges in their lives by "only thinking positively". While there is no doubt that optimists, people who maintain a positive perspective, live longer and live happier lives, we also know that people who try to deny the reality in their lives, generally end up in their counselor's chair...
Ok, here's the reality: sometimes, life is not pleasant, or positive. Sometimes life is tragic, and painful, and very hard work. Sometimes, life just stinks! If we ignore that reality, we are trying to pretend that something that is true, is not true. And it's that pretending, that can hurt us. It is much better for us to practice acceptance of the realities in our life that are difficult. I often wonder if Reinhold Niebuhr ever knew how incredibly wise he was when he wrote his serenity prayer:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
There are some things in life that we won't like but we may be able to change. By all means, I wish everyone the courage to change those things in their lives that they can. But to ACCEPT the things in life that we cannot change, is one of our greatest life skills. Acceptance doesn't mean we have to like it, it only means that we won't fight a useless battle. Paying taxes is one of those realities that most people consider a negative experience. Acceptance doesn't demand that one like paying taxes, it only asks that one doesn't fight it. Acceptance (of what we can't change) is truly a path leading to inner peace.
To everyone, optimists and pessimists alike, I encourage all of us to celebrate and enjoy the many, many positives in our lives. But when something negative comes along, ask the question, "is this something I can change?". If it is, best of luck to you. But if it's not, consider acceptance--the absence of fighting--as a truly positive perspective.