Earlier this year I made a deal with myself that I would try to be more positive, look on the bright side, stop complaining about the little things and focus on the good. The hope was that if I could be more positive, I would enjoy the more mundane things in life.
It went terribly. I do not think I went a couple of hours without groaning about a minor inconvenience. Maybe that makes me a cynic. Or maybe that makes me human.
I am sure everyone knows that one overly optimistic person in their life. Whether you see them on Instagram or in your math class, they are constantly preaching positivity. The silver lining is always within grasp for them and it seems as though they have never been anything but happy for their whole life.
They seem idealistic, like their life is easy and one to strive for. But honestly, always being positive is a ton of work.
This idea of being positive all the time has become quite toxic in our society. Being optimistic is good, and I applaud you if you are able to have a positive outlook, but it seems to be taken to an extreme.
“I would say that having a generally optimistic outlook can be beneficial, but when someone chooses to ignore significant problems in order to be ‘an optimist’ is when toxic positivity becomes an issue,” said junior Harini Gosukonda.
There is so much emphasis on appreciating the good things and not dwelling on the bad. But people need to feel emotions and if you want to complain, whether it is about losing a big game or getting a paper cut, go for it. I am not saying that you should be ungrateful or not celebrate an accomplishment, but there is a fine line between being optimistic and being toxicly positive.
You can be an optimistic person without disregarding negative emotions both in yourself and the others around you. What people need to understand is that sometimes people talk about their problems because they want solutions, and sometimes they just need to vent. And both are totally acceptable. If someone is asking for advice, it is fair to comfort them and point out that the glass is half full. But if not, no one wants to be told to “look on the bright side” after they don’t receive an award or their pet runs away.
“There is no situation I want to be told to ‘look on the bright side’. No one ever wants to hear that. If I am complaining to someone, I just want to complain and there is a reason I am complaining. There usually isn’t even a bright side, just let me be as negative as I want,” commented junior Andreea Rusu.
However, on the other side of the argument, optimism can do wonders for a person. Kudos to you if you are always able to see what is good and know that everything will work out in the end. Many people wish they had the gift of maintaining this enthusiasm in life. Even personally, I wish it was not so difficult to stop complaining all the time, even if I do occasionally enjoy it.
“I do think that having a positive mentality helps me enjoy little moments because I know that in tough situations in my life that I can still see good through rough times,” senior Ella Bunovsky commented.
“It also helps me appreciate every moment and every person in my life for getting me to where I am today. And having a positive mentality, for me, helps especially while playing a sport. It helps me remember that one moment doesn’t define you and that I can use every mistake or negative experience as a time to grow.”
Perhaps the best thing to do is understand that you are not always going to be smiling from ear to ear, but when you are, you should relish in it. Embrace all of the emotions in life, both good and bad. Deal with the hardships, utilize them as lessons and learn from the bad times so that you can enjoy the good times.
Instead of relying on cliches like “the glass is half full”, “look on the bright side” or “stop to smell the roses”, try a different mindset about how you feel. Try to feel your emotions to the full extent. In moments of happiness, enjoy the pure bliss. Smile and laugh. And in moments of sadness, instead of pushing those feelings away, embrace them. Understand that everything is not always going to be perfect and life is not always going to go your way. But then overcome it. Remember that you are human and full of life and in an instant, you will be in a whole new place, with new feelings and new experiences.