A few weeks ago I wrote about how it’s very easy for me to complain about bad customer service, but I never take the time to talk about good service. That day I sent a note to Staples commending two of their employees. It felt good, and hopefully those two employees got a nice little note in their employee files. The incident made me think of a larger issue: why are we so quick to accentuate the negative instead of the positive?
I try to do a gratitude exercise every day, but I admit, when I sit down at night and brain dump, the negative things about my day usually pop into my head first. I think about the irritating employee at the bakery, the guy who bumped into me spilling coffee on my favorite black converse, the fact that someone had already grabbed the “good” elliptical at the gym. When I think back on my day bad overshadows good by a wide margin. It often takes me awhile to think of a good moment, and I lead a relatively charmed life. My days are normally filled with way more ups than downs. Why don’t I remember the good as well as I remember the bad?
Am I hardwired to think that if something isn’t “perfect” then it is bad? Do societal pressures make me feel that every moment of my life should be fairytale like, so that when something disrupts the fairytale I remember it?
Have I overthought this topic?
Well, yes and no.
I think in order to live a fulfilling life, one must find the good that is out there, find the positive that exists. I don’t think a fulfilled life is one that is filled with riches or fame or any of those other grandiose things. I think true fulfillment lies on the back of the small moments, and accepting that these small moments of joy carry a great deal of impact. Finding joy in your morning cup of coffee, or a pleasant exchange with a stranger can bring you happiness every day. We need to recognize this and nourish it.
Psychologically I don’t know why we harp on negative and eschew positive, but I know we do. But, I think it’s possible to change out mindset. It just requires work. I think the effort will be rewarded.
I know some people are scared of happy. I know some people don’t trust those that exude positivity and happiness. Isn’t that sad? When did happy become a thing to be mocked? When did contentment become a joke?
I’m giving you homework tonight. At the end of the evening, go back and reflect on your day. Write the highs and the lows. But the number of highs must equal the number of lows, or exceed them. Some people might find it easy to do this: others will not. But I think it’s worth a try. Don’t you?