On Being Positive
By Peter DePasquale, Ph.D.
It seems that “bad news”, blaming others, complaining and putting people down, are contagious. Negativity is contagious. The world, unfortunately, is full of negativity. For example, have you ever noticed that when people gather together it is common to overhear them complaining about something? Favorite “complaint topics” include high taxes, crime, violence youthful disrespect of elders, government, other peoples’ behavior and a lot of other “gripes”. People seem so unhappy and so willing to complain. Now, of course, I’m not content or happy all the time. However, all things considered, it’s pretty amazing that the world runs as well as it does. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not naive, I’ve been around and I’ve seen the country torn apart at the seams during the 60’s. I’ve seem racism, and indeed, as a social worked/psychotherapist, I’ve seen countless examples of injustice, human pain. Deceit, tragedy and sorrow. However, if negativity is contagious, and I believe it is, then I am determined to do my small part to develop and foster a “positive force: to counter the negativity. How can you contribute to a worthwhile goal? First of all, ask yourself if you are up to the task. Do you want to be part of the problem or do you want to be part of the solution and serve as a positive force? Hopefully, you choose to help make the world a better place by choosing to be a positive person.
Next, actively begin to counter negativity when you are confronted with it. Do this in an intelligent, assertive, compassionate, and “safe” manner. For example, if someone says to you, “All teenagers are bad,” it is obviously a very negative statement. Equally obvious is that the statement is untrue. There are indeed many wonderful teens in this world. To counter the negative statement and get the “positive force” ball rolling, you could respond by saying something like “I know plenty of great teenagers. I certainly don’t believe all teenagers are bad,” then perhaps follow this with some specific examples, names, situations, accomplishments, etc. The objective is to counter the negativity. Good news dissipates quickly, while bad news and negativity sells papers, grabs attention and generally persists longer than positive news. Because negativity is contagious, it is necessary to actively develop positive responses to the negativity in the world. It takes continued effort to develop, spread and sustain a positive force. However, I am confident that if one works at it, positive responses will produce positive thinking and further stimulate more positive responses. Perhaps this will set off a chain reaction.
Little by little, one positive response after another, over time, will lead to a more companionate, understanding and positive-oriented community. This may very well be the primary way society will change for the better, in time.
To share a quote from a “hero” of mine, the distinguished anthropologist, Margaret Mead:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
With this in mind, may your journey towards”on being positive” be a most rewarding one. Spread the news!
Peter DePasquale, Ph.D., ACSW is a licensed, board certified psychotherapist with a private practice in Port Jefferson, New York. He specializes in individual and family therapy and in the use of clinical hypnosis for many areas of self improvement. From Harvard Medical School Dr. DePasquale received his advanced training in adolescent suicide prevention.
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