Check out this article I wrote for NSPIRE!
The Power of Negativity
By Tanya Uhrich
Negativity is everywhere we look today. What happened to the days of celebrating accomplishments? We have become so busy with keeping up with the demands of our day that sometimes we often complain about it. Instead of thinking about how lucky we are to have a job to go to or a family waiting at home for us and or how beautiful the landscape of our small town and open space is. We forget and focus on the bad.
Negativity is an easy trap to fall into and we often don’t even realize it. I am not a morning person and my first thought is always, ‘why can’t I get up when I want to go to work then?’ This is what goes through my mind when I hear my morning alarm. Next, getting out the door on time and a grumpy kid to school while dealing with traffic sets the pace for chaos and another dose of negativity. It can come from the things you need to get done that day and how you don’t have enough time or simply other people’s driving. (Maybe a little of mine too if we are being honest.) Then we walk into work to problems right from the start. Maybe the coffee machine broke or the boss is on a rampage. All of these things set the mood for the day. Every single negative irritation you have you spread to the people around you and so on and so on. It spreads like wildfire. It’s not good for us!
An experience I had recently made me stop and think a little bit and it changed the way I responded to negativity. (Although I still fall into it but I catch myself a lot faster now.) I went out of town and getting up early and getting ready on my day off was a grumpy way to start the day, but I decided on two things before I walked out of the house. One, I thought to myself, I get to go out of town. I get to do something apart from my normal routine of just going to work and coming home. The second, and my favorite, is how choosing to take something positive out of a negative situation or comment changed everything. It was fun and empowering. For instance, we ate at a busy and popular restaurant and when we sat down it took a little longer than normal for the waitress to make her way to our table. They were busy so I reminded myself I am not in a hurry and others were there before me. She finally made her way over and she wasn’t exactly the bubbly approachable waitress. She was unsure and quiet so I told myself that she must be new and maybe I could make her feel a little better about the awkward waitress customer relationship. I smiled and made eye contact and wouldn’t you know it, she smiled and her voice got a little louder so I could hear her better. Although, she was still slow bringing stuff to the table with a lack of enthusiasm on her face. When she put our stuff down she started smiling again. It was awesome! The power of positivity was proven to me that it is contagious! After that, she was still slow but the smile on her face and the power of a simple thank you changed the awkward situation into a fun dinner.
The last stop of the trip was the grocery store. That was a whole different game. People, in general, make me anxious and uncomfortable so I tend to avoid shopping often. We used to just have to worry about running into someone we perhaps didn’t like or someone we are avoiding. Now it almost feels like we are afraid of even making eye contact with someone for one reason or another. So again, I tried to create less awkwardness by being a friendly and helpful person. It amazed me. People started saying hello and smiling. I know we are living in a screwed-up mess right now and worry how close we get to someone or maybe say something to bother them. So where along this path did we stop smiling and saying hello to people? Why can’t we get back to doing the neighborly thing and spreading positivity for a change?
In my opinion, it’s because we are so consumed with all the misinformation we are fed daily and the negativity we create and pass on. My trip out of town was probably one of the best trips I have had and I know it sounds cliché, but it started with me. Constantly reminding myself of the choice to have a good day and be positive all came down to my choices and thoughts. It’s great that someone posts an inspirational quote on social media, but how often does one person really hear the message? Being a writer, I am crazy about sayings and clever spins on words. The reason is that it makes me think about something differently! We all need to think differently and remember when someone is being negative you have the power to help change their day. Smile and be approachable! Speak kinds words to them! And the most important is to remember they could just be having a bad day and you have the power to help change that for them!