Friday, July 22, 2011

Positivity--Nature or Nurture?

A life-long friend recently remarked, “Are you ever not positive?” This came right after I told her she was beautiful and right before she asked why I hadn’t been a cheerleader back in the day. LOL. But her question made me think. Most of the time, I’m a glass half full kind of person. I’d rather focus on the good in a person or situation than dwell on the negative. There are plenty of people out there waiting to knock you down. I don’t intend to be one of them.
Certainly, the ability to be positive is part of a person’s basic personality. However, positivity is also a choice that becomes habit like any other habit. Look around. Are the negative people’s life experiences really so different than the positive?
Don’t confuse positivity with being happy and upbeat. There’s a difference. At times, I want to curse the world and walk away just like everyone else. But I make the choice not to, and the more I choose this path, the more positivity is who I am and not just a habit I’m practicing.
My family is just as dysfunctional as the next, but I’m fortunate to have parents who have a never-say-die attitude. My father, in particular, is a positive, encouraging person. Some of that is his Christianity and a life spent delving into scripture and seeking God’s direction. He instilled in me long ago that life is easier on the heart and soul when you look at it through positive lenses (not to be confused with rose-colored glasses J).
Papa grew up in a family of 15 children, three of whom were half-siblings. He didn’t learn to read until he was 14 years old and in the sixth grade. By the eighth grade, he had dropped out of school. Soon after, he lied about his age and joined the Army. He also has a speech impediment. One time, out of frustration and ignorance, his mother told him not to speak to her anymore until he learned to talk right. He forgave her long ago for that, just as he did his abusive father. After all, having raised seven children and four grandchildren himself, Papa sympathizes with his parents’ frustrations. He doesn’t excuse their actions, but he has forgiven them. This was a conscious choice on his part—and one that liberated him.
Papa gave his children the best of what he had and most of that grew from his positive nature. Regardless of his speech and lack of formal education, he built a profitable landscaping company that is well respected in Gainesville, FL. He won an award a few years ago from the city of Gainesville for a yard he designed and landscaped at one of the University of Florida sorority houses. But it took years to carve this niche for himself in the industry.
Mostly, Papa’s life has been hard. He grew up during the depression, experienced eviction from homes, and went hungry. This did not create an environment of positive nurturing. I believe he learned that at our Savior’s knee, during hours spent in fellowship with Him.
So, to answer the question—I try to always be positive. However, I never discount someone else’s bad situation or bad mood. We all have them. Though my life is about encouraging others, catch me on a bad day and, if you listen closely, you might hear some grumbling. After all, I’m not that other “P” word. J
If you’re having a bad day and want someone to unload on, feel free to e-mail me. My email address is located under view profile on the left.

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