Many. That’s the number of people I’ve met or actually know who are devoted to the Positivity and Only Positivity Program. For the longest time, I thought: well, good for you!
I knew almost immediately that it wasn’t going to work for me. The rules were way too strict and I spent most of my time wondering if – no. expecting – I was accruing penalties for any little thought that qualified as ‘negative.’ Or losing valuable points. I didn’t want to lose my points.
For anyone finding a new perspective or changing habits built in childhood, the ‘Only Positivity’ route seemed a good thing.
But that’s changed and now I’m thinking something else. Now I’m thinking that all that positivity isn’t so much about embracing the positive, but avoiding the negative. And not just avoiding, but refusing to even entertain the negative.
In the last few weeks, a neighbor told me, “Oh, I just bury my head in the sand.’ He’s lovely, this ostrich man. Another friend, a lamb, shooed away a question about current events ith wiggly fingers. “I don’t talk about politics.’ At all? ‘No. No politics. I can’t have any arguments.’
The other day, a woman fake shuddered. ‘No negativity. I don’t have anything to do with negativity.’
They are just a sampling of people who are undoubtedly thoughtful and kind and just trying to create a world they’re comfortable in.
But I realize it’s not fun and, often, not terribly interesting being in a conversation or … well, experience with some of them. I don’t want them to backslide into the dark side. Noooo! Being positive is a great attitude. I, myself, don’t do well at cynicism. But this Positivity thing (the thing that gets a capital letter) has limits. Its followers describe the content allowed and provide little sense of freedom and play. Discernment? No, because discernment implies some measuring and measuring is negative. Dispute? No. Contradiction? No.
I was recently at a little party where the subject of favorite numbers came up. A woman who really, really likes and studies the mystical (I know, because it was her principle topic of discussion) smiled with great patience when another said that since she was a child, the number three had spoken to her. Our mystical know it all, chuckled. ‘You know,’ she said, ‘that’s strictly an American invention.’
My brain did a double take. What? The lover of three, though, ‘Really?’ which earned her a little sniff.
‘Yah. Completely American. Think of it!’ (Can’t speak for anyone else, but I was! Thinking of it. And also a little ‘what the hell?’ I was thinking of that, too.) ‘THINK of it. The Trinity? Father, Son, the et cetera, et cetera?’
See, now in MY world, we could have fixed that with a big burst of laughter and a little teasing. No harm, no foul. Sometimes weird shit and accidental misinformation tumble out of any of our mouths. Okay. Maybe just mine. But it’s a great occasion for playing.
NOT in this world. I don’t know why. I don’t want to know why. I don’t want to have those kinds of restrictions put on me.
If you do, please send me a postcard, but I’m not having a non-playful, narrow conversation with you. You’ll be happy because I’d just be negative.