I'ma be me, whether you like it or not. I owe that to you.
After all, who I am to tell someone they need to stay positive? Who am I to say, “Look, you have problems, no doubt, but so does every single other person in the world. I think you would be happier if you didn’t sit around and complain, and if you constantly looked for opportunities instead of obstacles.”
Who am I to say that? Who am I show little or no tolerance for a constant negative attitude?
I listen to friends who take a negative view on life, and rather than tell them to snap out of it, I try to be sympathetic and find areas of agreement. After all, who am I to tell them how they should live their lives? I thought I should communicate my point of view through the way I lived my life, instead of also with words. It was more polite that way.
I finally figured it out while on a walk in my sister’s neighborhood on New Year’s Eve. Who am I to constantly tell my friends to find the positive in situations and to focus on what they can control and to take this ONE LIFE and make it what they want?
I’m their friend, that’s who I am.
A friend of mine died last year, a month after finding out he had cancer. During the six years I knew him, he frequently indulged in negative thinking and cynicism. During coffees or lunches, I’d shake my head and smile in apparent agreement as he ranted about his boss or raged about the idiots who didn’t understand his genius (and he did have a genius for many things) or cursed the morons who didn’t hire him.
I thought I was being a friend by letting him binge on these negative emotions. But I wasn’t being a friend, because I wasn’t being myself. I was hiding my light under a bushel basket for fear of offending him or looking like I thought I had all the answers.
I don’t have all the answers, but every once in a while, I might have the answer, and it does my friends no good for me to keep that insight to myself when they might need it.
In the last four weeks of his life, after discovering his illness, my friend completely changed his outlook. He told his kids he loved them. He became a better husband, he said. He found far more gratitude than he’d felt before.
And then he died.
And I realized I had failed him. I’m not saying I absolutely would have helped him get to this more positive emotional place sooner. But I sure didn’t do him any favors by trying not to impose.
So, friends :-), I am going to try to be more open with you in 2012. I am going to try to assume that the reason you consider me a friend, or the reason you come to read this blog, is because you are looking for different viewpoints and different ways of looking at the world. I am going to believe that the reason you are listening to me, or hired me to speak to your group, is because you want to hear my message – otherwise, what’s the point? And I am going to trust that if I am overdoing it, you will tell me (there are limits to how much advice anyone wants to hear…) – and that if you get sick of hearing all that motivational BS from me, you will unfriend me or unsubscribe or stop hanging out with me. And there will be no hard feelings – not on my part, anyway.
Thanks! Happy New Year!