The word is Positive. There, I said it!
With an enthusiasm that can (and will) set your teeth on edge, proponents of Positive Mental Attitude will exhort you to Be Positive. They go about it will all the delicacy of a bull in a china shop. On an aside, have you, personally, seen a bull in a china shop? I admit frankly that I have not. Pretty silly we’d look, wont we, if we saw one sitting quietly on a handy stool, minding its business? Just goes to show you.
But I digress. My cardinal sin.
This misplaced enthusiasm (of the PMA proponents, not the bull) makes a sort of a red film descend over my eyes. The phrase justifiable homicide sums it up neatly.
Please don’t get me wrong. I have no bones to pick with the desirability of having a positive attitude. On the contrary, I am all for it- normally. The rest of the times, my grouse with it goes thusly:
1. I am depressed. This means…
2. The rising sun, the chirping birds and the roses in the garden just seem like someone’s sick joke to me. Let me rub it in. I don’t feel positive at all. Enter the PMA crusaders on their wild horses…
3. “Be Positive, be positive” goes their battle cry as they gallop past. I look dourly upon their receding backs and say,
4. “Forgot to tell me the name of the shop from which to buy it, didn’t you sunshine?” Banging the door shut…
5. I sink deeper in depression. (Return to #1…)
And so it goes.
Over the years, I had kept the whole unpleasant issue at bay by the clever ruse of tagging it as fatuous nonsense and skimming over its surface when it shoved itself in my face. We were doing perfectly fine, the PMA nutcases and I. I would pretend to look interested and grateful and the blob of sunshine would pat itself betwixt the shoulder blades before moving on to scatter its brilliance in some other dark corner. The infestation got virulent as the ranks of the ungodly multiplied. I wasn’t worried at all since I had it all worked out. But you know how it is, don’t you?
While one adroitly sweeps dead bodies under the carpet, one hates the squelching sound they make when underfoot. Gruesome. And of course, after a while, they stink to high heaven. I began to realize I hadn’t found an air-tight solution. Oh, I am fey like that, you know… sensitive. Yes.
The issue (read dead body) festered on. But as they say, it didn’t hurt enough for me to do anything about it. It was just there… somewhere… under the carpet. You don’t find me going in there if I can help it. I just let it all pile up and make me feel vaguely anxious. Like something I ought to do but take delicious pleasure in ignoring. I only hope all the stuff in there feels silly.
Then guess what? I was going through some of my old write- ups and I found this quote. It got in amongst me in no uncertain manner. I still have the dagger’s point sticking out of my lumbar curve. Damn inconvenient, I’ll have you know.
Of course many people are tired simply because they are not interested in anything. Nothing ever moves them deeply. To some people it makes no difference what’s going on or how things go. Their personal concerns are superior even to all crises in human history. Nothing makes any real difference to them except their own little worries, their desires, and their hates. They wear themselves out stewing around about a lot of inconsequential things that amount to nothing. So they become tired. They even become sick. The surest way not to become tired is to lose yourself in something in which you have a profound conviction. A famous statesman who made seven speeches in one day was still boundless in energy. “Why are you not tired after making seven speeches?” I asked. “Because,” he said, “I believe absolutely in everything I said in those speeches. I am enthusiastic about my convictions.”
That’s the secret. He was on fire for something. He was pouring himself out, and you never lose energy and vitality in so doing. You only lose energy when life becomes dull in your mind. Your mind gets bored and therefore tired doing nothing. You don’t have to be tired. Get interested in something. Get absolutely enthralled in something. Throw yourself into it with abandon. Get out of yourself. Be somebody. Do something. Don’t sit around moaning about things, reading the papers, and saying, “Why don’t they do something?” The man who is out doing something isn’t tired. If you’re not getting into good causes, no wonder you’re tired. You’re disintegrating. You’re deteriorating. You’re dying on the vine. The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have. You won’t have time to think about yourself and get bogged down in your emotional difficulties. To live with constant energy it is important to get your emotional faults corrected. You will never have full energy until you do. People who lack energy are disorganized to one degree or another by their deep, fundamental emotional and psychological conflicts.
~ Norman Vincent Peale in Power of Positive Thinking
Now we may quibble and say Peale was talking about feeling tired but we know better, don’t we? Tiredness is merely one of the manifestations of a disheartened consciousness.
The way to get out of a disempowered state therefore, is no longer a impossibly tangled labyrinth. It can be condensed into something simple.
Throw yourself into something bigger than yourself.
What lights a fire in your belly? What would make you forget yourself- Hunger, thirst, physical exhaustion, sleep? Do you know when you stopped throwing your heart over the fence so that your body had no choice but to follow?
You stopped doing that when you acquired the soul of an accountant. This accountant wouldn’t know long range perspective if it stood on his toes. His range of vision is the current nano-second. He tallies up your dedication and sneers at you when you have no payment to show for it. He thinks contentment is a word dreamed up by people- like Santa Clause and tooth fairies. His God is Pragmatism. To be practical is his only mantra, his sole tenet. All the rest, he thinks, is just so much twaddle.
You hate him; he rules your life. Which is all rather perfect.
I wouldn’t recommend that you quit your job and join Green Peace. Nor that you fire your boss and teach slum kids. But DO something… once a week… once a year. Do something that feeds your soul. Get so busy that you have no time to get bogged down with your pains, anxieties and emotional dramas. They are all besides the point, truth be told. It is alright if you want to hate me for saying this. It really is. I am too busy churning out words to feed the fire in my belly, I have no attention to spare for your hate barbs. They will swish past me and bury themselves into the sands of time, bleeding their poison away in abject futility. And they’ll be forgotten after a while… along with many things that ought not to have been forgotten- like the music of your soul.
Go, lose yourself into something bigger than yourself. Please..!