Friday, 25 February 2011

Positive thinking and the joys of being a robot

I really admire people that stay positive regardless of the crap that life throws at them. Those that can still smile when half their teeth are missing. Those that run marathons even though they're in a wheelchair. Those that climb mountains though they have no arms. There is something about these people's courage, their optimism, their strength that I envy. I often wonder where that attitude comes from, how it's born, and can I please have some?

At the same time it really bothers me when sadness or anger are looked down on as a sign of weakness. I read a book once where the author claimed that happiness is a matter of choice; how we react to a situation is something we've learned, and can thus be unlearned in favour of a more positive mindset. If you get angry at someone for something they did, for example, it's not their fault you're angry. It's up to you whether you'll let yourself get angry or not. You can choose to not get angry. Ask yourself if the whole thing was a misunderstanding. Or if that person had had a bad day. Then you can just feel sorry for them, and that makes your anger go away.

I found the book fascinating. Did the author mean to say that I can control my emotional responses? All the time? And just choose to be happy, and live happily ever after?

The cynic in me (and those who know me also know that I'm 90% cynical, 10% sceptical) struggled to give these ideas some serious consideration. I tried to implement them in my daily life. Then I dismissed them. Is it suddenly not acceptable to get angry? Or sad? Are these emotions weird, have they suddenly become not OK? And this idea that I would somehow be able to control these emotions – wow, I feel really omnipotent. Kind of God-like, with no uncontrollable human emotions whatsoever.

Choose not to get angry?? This book made me angry!

Guess what. Being angry, or sad, or happy, or scared, are normal human emotions, that we've developed as we evolved in order to ensure our survival. If we don't get angry at the caveman trying to steal our food, well, then we have no food and we die. If we don't get scared when we see a lion approaching, then we're cat food. Or imagine a world where no one feels sad when a loved one dies.

These were some of the things that went through my head as I walked home from work in my VFFs today. I thought about all the wonderful people I've met through the years, that have enriched my life with their positive attitude. Some of them runners, who were much greater persons than I ever will be, that asked me about my injury and then put everything into perspective by just shrugging and saying ”that's the bad thing about running – you always get injured”. Newsflash, newbie: You're not unique!

I had a colleague once that was the most amazingly sunny person I've ever met. Almost nothing fazed her. And she was genuinely positive, none of this mumbo jumbo new age crap about choosing happiness. I wish I were like her, instead of sweating about the little things. Sure, I've had a really tough autumn, with the injury and stress at work and some personal stuff that I won't get into. My foot injury is still there. But it gets better in the end. I know it will get better. The days get longer, the nights get warmer, and at the end of the day there are so many things to be thankful for.

So, how about a compromise: all feelings are OK. I'm not about to become a bloody robot. But no brooding. Celebrate the good stuff. Try and be that positive person that enriches someone else's life.

Oh, and eat more cake.


  1. Jag tänker såhär: om jag agerar i affekt kan det hända att jag ångrar mig dvs jag har reagerat ist f agerat. Yogan hjälper mig att hålla mig cool och utvärdera situationen innan jag agerar och det mår jag bra på! Sedan får jag ändå psykbryt emellanåt när jag bara slår i kudden och vrålar DET ÄR SÅ FÖRB.... ORÄTTVIST men det är väl bara mänskligt haha!

  2. Ja, du har förstås rätt. Det som jag störs på är att ansvaret läggs på mig som har blivit arg, och inte på den som agerat dumt. Den som agerar dumt får frikort, medan jag som blev arg betraktas som en svag människa som inte kan hantera sina känslor.

    Sen är det alltid bra att stanna upp och tänka innan man reagerar. Om man absolut inte vill döda nån, dvs ;)

  3. Haha precis, man väljer att döda ngn men man gör det lixom inte bara i förbifarten!