Negativity and Radical Gratitude

Dear Pope Francis,

Lately, it seems like everywhere I turn I am being bombarded with negative messages. There is devastating reports coming from the Middle East, and the Ukraine. My Facebook feed seems to be full complaints, and if not outright grumblings, there are all sorts of negative connotations. In many cases, these posts are meant to be downers, they are simply highlighting the negative stuff happening in the world.Duking it out

As I was thinking about all of this stuff I was surprised to find out how much it has been impacting me. I’ve caught myself complaining to others about the few happy things that people were posting (although I was calling it sappy, which only points out my issues with the content). As a result, I’ve been more attentive to how exactly I’m responding to life in general, both global news stories and my own personal life. For the most part it’s been pretty negative, even the words I choose have a more negative connotation than other words I could have chosen (like referring to the happy Facebook posts as sappy; being sappy is not a bad thing, but I said it with a generous helping of disdain).

So now, I could spend the rest of this post theologizing about negativity versus positivity, or throw around platitudes (see there I go, negative connotation) like “look at the glass half full, not half empty”. I could propose we all focus on finding the happy things in our lives, or better yet, we could all sit around a campfire and sing happy songs, tell jokes and eat s’mores (*sarcasm sign*).

However, when all is said and done, there isn’t a whole lot I can do to address the global events, like war in the Middle East, so I will pray fervently because that’s the best I can do. But I can begin to address some of the negativity in my own life. It’s easier said than done, but I can choose not to engage in it. I have already recognized where I’m being hyper-critical, negative and pessimistic. Instead of dwelling on those, or beating myself up, I can acknowledge that I said them, and move on, hopefully the negative with something, if not positive at least neutral.

This is easier said than done; it has to be a conscious choice, much the same way that I am challenging myself to be radically grateful. Gratitude, like positivity, doesn’t mean that everything is perfect or always sunshine and smiles. It means appreciating what I have in this moment and focusing on those good things, even though there are negative things in the world, I am in a bad mood, or I am being materialistic. At the end of the day, both positivity and gratitude are conscious choices, choices, at least for positivity, that I haven’t been making very often lately.

Trying to turn the frown upside-down,

Lauren

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