“Each of us makes our own weather, determines the color of the skies in the emotional universe which he inhabits.” – Fulton J. Sheen

While driving home the other day, I was reminded by a few recent experiences of someone I haven’t thought about in years. Have you ever been around someone who constantly criticizes? They seldom laugh or smile, or they go out of their way to find fault. I certainly have. He was known as Dr. Gloom. Dr. Gloom was well educated (two college degrees), articulate, and was a wealth of political information. But, all was overshadowed by his negative attitude. For fifteen years, we were colleagues, teaching political science.

Dr. Gloom could be engaging; but too often, these times were eclipsed by his pessimistic personal opinions and political rantings. He found fault in and with everything: The weather was never right. His teaching schedule was horrible. The administration was always against him. He even found fault with department picnics. There were bugs, the surf was too rough and the beverages were not cold enough. Yes, he had experienced tragedy in his life, but who hasn’t, if you have lived long enough?

When I looked at my other colleagues, I saw a cancer survivor, a man who buried his father and younger sister; a woman whose family had escaped Cuba with only the clothes on their backs; and a man facing an uncertain future with major complications from type 2 diabetes. These people made the decision to accept, fight and move on with a happy heart, smiling and laughing with life, while Dr. Gloom’s view was consistently the adverse side of life.

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I’ve always tried to be an optimist, but my association with my former colleague and my recent experiences have sealed the deal. Positive will be what I am and how I will live. Negativity makes life too difficult for the person echoing this attitude and for others who are the recipients. Certainly bad days will always invade our lives, however, we need to try to pull something positive from each experience. Even having the flu has a positive. When you finally recover (and you will), feeling good smells so sweet. And, what about those couple of pounds you lost?

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When your wife loses her wedding ring, it’s replaceable, but the thoughts of losing her… Remember that first ding on your new car? Or that sick feeling when you backed into the fireplug! Make it a positive. Next time, when the light turns yellow, maybe you won’t speed up.

Doom and gloom is a disease that won’t kill, but it can surely cripple. I call it GNA, Gloomitis Negative Attitudeness, having a gloomy, negative attitude. Yes, we all catch it from time-to-time, like a cold, but it should leave in a week or so. But, what if someone has caught this dreadful disease and it doesn’t leave?  And, you find yourself in their presence listening to their statements like the following, over and over:

  • There’s nothing to do around here.
  • All politicians are corrupt.
  • Trusting is for children and fools.
  • Someone’s always trying to cheat me.
  • I’m not donating my money to those crooks.
  • You can’t do that. You’ll embarrass yourself and the organization.
  • Don’t you know, nobody cares!
  • That team will never win, they are losers.
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If you know someone like this, experience has taught me you have two choices. You can choose to get away and stay away. Remember, negative attitudes are contagious. Or, you can try to help them see life through different eyes. Careful though! This can be a difficult choice, and conflict may follow. Be prepared for rejection, anger, denial or all three. Please bear in mind, one seldom realizes they have become this negative person. In time, hopefully, you will sit and talk. And, if that never happens, choice number one has most likely been made for you.

So, in summary, my opinion is: Take each negative that life hands you and do your best to turn it into a positive. Better said by William H. Buckley, “Keep your thoughts right, for as you think, so are you. Therefore, think only those things that will make the world better, and you unashamed.”

Until next time,

Michael