Must. Be. Positive. All. The. Time! Smile! How are you, GREAT? Uh-maaazing. 😀
It’s an affliction of sorts. Very American, it seems. When I lived in Prague they had this thing they called “The American Smile,” a bright, cheery, big grin of a smile, mostly used for photographs. Instead of “cheese” they would say “American smiiiile.”
Smiling for photos hasn’t always been a thing (and it wasn’t a thing in the Czech Republic until recently as the culture started to become Americanized.)
Which hasn’t stopped my mom from thinking it’s absolutely necessary.
Which is mostly not that big a deal. But when it jumps the frame and spreads into every other part of life it’s a problem.
It’s the chilled out dude who insists somehow both passionately and blandly that he only wants positive vibes around him.
It’s team think and grow rich — think and a fab new car will materialize.
It’s the youthful and energetic business bros coming up with some ill-informed, half-cocked idea and everyone tripping over themselves to be enthusiastic about it.
It’s good to err on the side of optimism and hope. I encourage positivity.
But not to the extent of Magical Thinking or Wishful Thinking or denial.
The reality is life is full of ups and downs and mixed emotions. In good times you will have negative emotions. In bad times, you will experience positive emotions.
The blissed out, blazed out, positive-vibes-only dude is running from reality—in particular experiencing and facing negative emotions. Understandable. It can be hard to face the yucky stuff. But healthier at the end to embrace the swings of life and be able to experience negative emotions and admit hardship.
The business bros are hyping their way past insecurities, or enthusing their way past hard work looking for lazy answers.
I know someone (someone close to me) who is perennially, diurnally positive. Which, on the one hand, I greatly admire and value.
But not everything is always looking up.
And he, I know, is afraid. Of death, massive injury, failure, and even talk of deep struggle.
I have mixed feelings about his positivity. I love it and I think it does damage. I’m grateful for it and I’m concerned he is not able to face negative aspects of his life (which also inhibits his ability to help others with their hard stuff.) I admire and need his positivity sometimes, and I feel it is sad.
I believe admitting the reality of pleasure and pain, joy and mortal fear, will allow you to love life, yourself, and others deeper and more. You will see things more clearly and accurately, which will allow you to build stronger and more durably.
Gently, face the realness. Look, and feel.