Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Gratitude versus Sugar Coating

Since I announced jumping off the "Positivity" Train in a post a few months back, there have been a few people bewildered by my participation in the Gratitude Sunday project.

As I said in my aforementioned, extra ranty, post, a lot of what we refer to as the positivity movement feels like a high pressure sales pitch towards a fake, sugar coated life. It's a bunch of people editing photos, mailing out newsletters and running websites that make some readers - including this one - question the value of the lives they're living and doles out guilt for not making each and every moment of every single day on this Earth magical and special and memorable.

It makes you look around your house or apartment, at the streets, suburbs or familiar woods outside of your home and sigh, "Why can't this be tropical paradise?" It makes you long for a magically easy way to make a living, to globe trot, to throw common sense on the fire and follow whimsy. Seriously, who doesn't that sound good to? Unfortunately, it's not feasible for most people and really, why should we feel badly for having a good, if not exotic, life? What's the point in creating guilt or feelings of failure in your readers? Isn't that sort of, kind of, the opposite of being legitimately positive?

For those reasons, I've quit reading any and all blogs, newsletters, etc that fall in to that vein. I don't want your snake oil disguised as sunshine, thanks. What I do want though, is to be healthily positive and to find the up sides in the life I'm living. Not the shoulda, woulda, coulda life or the unrealistic fairy tale one; the real one I'm living. Right here, right now.

Thinking back on a day, or a week, and finding things which I can say with certainty that I am grateful for is a good way for me to do that. It's not a sugar coated way of putting a positive spin on a crap day, because let's face it, some days are just shit. That's the honest to goodness truth. But even in those shit days, there may be one little ray of sunshine that you would have overlooked if you didn't think back on it at the end of the day.

Nothing life changing, mind you, though it could be. I'm talking something simple, like a delicious piece of cake, no line at your favorite coffee spot, a silly photo message from a friend, a well timed hug from a loved one or a fucking great nap. Keeping a list of these awesome bright spots helps keep me from focusing on the fact that the other 23 hours of the day were total bull shit and helps me clear my mind and go to bed without a little black rain cloud over my head.

It shifts my perspective just enough to remind me that while everything isn't always sunshine and unicorn farts, it's also not always a deep dark cave of deep dark despair, either. And for me, that honest gratitude is a fuck ton more beneficial than any highly polished pitch about what I should be doing to improve my life. Or rather, how to edit your life to seem perfect.

Because, fuck all that.

4 comments:

  1. I think if everyone focused on the positive instead of the negative all the time, we'd all be in a better place. Kudos to you for keeping it real mama!. Looking for the positive in every day life is something that I've started doing for myself as well, especially after Persephone was born. It definitely makes those sleep deprived days much more tolerable and easier to deal with and makes for a much less grumpy mama in the end.

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  2. ha ha!!! High Five! I agree with you 100%. Sometimes I wonder if the overly happy people are just trying to talk themselves into it. I have a hard time with the pressure to be positive too, but I do have to keep tabs on my negativity too. The other day I watched an interview with Bob Dylan and his talk about destiny seemed to change things for me. It just might be that all this positive thinking does nothing at all to change your life, unless your life was destined to be different anyway. Maybe it's not about being positive, but just being willing to go with the flow without falling to pieces. Now I just - well, allow I guess is the best word. I am letting destiny do it's thing and trying to see the intelligence in that. I look back on some shit from the past and I just say - well that's the way it had to be in order for things to change. And then I forget about it. I really do think you have to pay your dues sometimes, and all the positive attitudes and gratitude journals in the world are not going to change that fact.

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  3. An excellent post. Agree with you 100%. Sometimes I get really down reading those blogs/newsletters, thinking I'm not good enough and wondering how they manage to have such a perfect life.

    Maybe I should take a leaf out of your book and stop reading them.

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  4. Realistic and raw aren't negative. They are just different. Besides, I heard unicorn farts are terrible for the skin. ;-)

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