Sometimes I wonder when thinking and/or speaking positive got such a negative connotation. As in, when did it become cooler to just ignore and not invest in such an activity?
Is it a reflection of the world we live (economic, political, social etc.)?
Is it the popularity of an Oprah?
The overpopulation of self-help gurus?
The advent of life coaches?
The Church of Scientology? (I’m being serious here!)
President Obama and his way with words?
I get the junior high—high school reality where peer pressure ruled the day and few escaped unscathed or unscarred. It took courage to be who you were when you weren’t even sure. Or maybe you knew and just kept a low profile. But the adult resistance (and yes I do realize and know that adult peer pressure is very real) to lending a positive or encouraging word is a tough pill to swallow.
I used to say that good intentions are just that—good intentions. But just because you don’t have to end where you begin, doesn’t necessarily mean that if you began well you should fall into the trend of positivity being out of style.
There was a time in my life when I never smiled—in pictures, in my everyday life. Just didn’t even know how to make my face do anything else but be serious. I remember folks saying “smile, stop push up you face” or a random suggestion to “smile sis, I mean it’s gonna be OK.” The nerve right!? lol And yet, I could always muster up something for a stranger and then they would say, ‘that’s more like it.’ Now that’s some encouragement—on a New York street no less.
I never understood the power of a smile until maybe the last several years. It changed everything, my mood, the atmosphere, even down to my (sometimes) rotten intentions.
I had an episode at the J C Penney store that I will never forget for as long as I live. I was browsing the racks and caught a lady in my peripheral. We made eye contact and she was talking on her cell phone—I mean an animated conversation too. You know like the phone in the crook of her neck and hands just sifting through the racks as only women on a mission can do. She stopped when our eyes met, slid the phone down and held it against her chest and said “Jesus loves you” and then “you know that right? You understand that he loves you?”
I must have nodded in the affirmative, or done something that let her know I had heard, because she went back to her conversation and her sifting and I kind of stood in place reeling. You’ve got to know I almost broke down right there, and not because I didn’t know that Jesus loved me. But the moment held punch for all that a stranger had stopped in mid-stride to tell me this and I was going along, minding my own business, and I didn’t know I needed to hear the words.
I so did!
Imagine what more those words would/could do for someone who didn’t know they were special and peculiar and just highly favored. I mean I was having a good day, and a stranger made it great. That’s the kind of encouragement I’m talking about, the seemingly unnecessary kind.
I’ve started writing notes to myself again. I used to do it when I was small to remind myself of how I felt in a moment. I didn’t know what I was doing, so in love with words and the act of writing everything and anything down.
Today I write emails to myself, to remind myself of who I am. Of who I wants to be. Of great times and my hope for better times. And often, I write to remind myself of all the reasons I need to remain light and salt.
I could make any choice on any day of the week, but this week I want to make a stab at being truly positive. When I feel those walls closing in or a “heifer” rises too easily to my lips, I want to remember a little mercy and even a little love.
I love Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” for every reason under the sun that is positive. Check it!
And to know me is to know I love the King James Version of the Bible, so here’s the scriptural reference that pulled this post:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8