Friday, April 19, 2013


Why is it that one negative remark can outweigh ten compliments? Why is it that a difficult patch in one part of my life bleeds over to everything else?

Humans seem to be programmed to focus on the negative. It's easy to recall the awful thing a kid in your class said to you all the way back in fourth grade.  It's much tougher to forget it.  Look at the issues we have with anorexia, bulimia, and plastic surgery addiction.  We have multiple news channels, many of which run news 24 hours a day and the vast majority of it is horrible.  You could fill your days with nothing other than stories of rape, murder, terrorism and political scandal/ineptitude. Sure, there was the two and a half minute story about the dog that rescued a cat but does that make up for the other 1,437.5 minutes for tragedy and mayhem? It extends into Facebook, into our conversations and inevitably into our consciousness.

People are more often negative to each other too.  That couples with the long lasting memories of those interactions.  I can remember the messages on an online dating site where the guy was clearly being a dick.  It ruffles my feathers when someone is obnoxious to me (or someone else) in a store or cuts me off driving. Sure, some of those incidents pass as part of the chaos of living in a heavily populated society. Other incidents mean I stay ruffled for the rest of the day. Even a compliment doesn't sufficiently soothe a hurt.

Granted, life can't be all Mariners wins and cold beers on sunny afternoons. But how often do we identify ourselves by pain, suffering or frustration? Mariners fans, and Seattle sports fans in general, are long suffering and we're usually the first to say so.  The best music and art was created from heartbreak and hard times. If things are going well at work and you ask "How's work?" I'll likely say "Fine" but if it's not going well, grab a cup of coffee and I'll give you the whole run down. We perpetually remember tragic events. Year after year the flags are lowered, the world stops to recognize the victims and their families. At the rate we're going, between old incidents and new ones, we'll be lowering the flags daily. My tragedies have all been personal ones.  I didn't lose a family member in a bombing or terrorist attack but I'd imagine that at some point I'd want to be known as more than victim number 1857. At what point does remembering prevent moving forward?

I digress. You may have noticed I write more, more passionately and more animatedly when things are going wrong than when they are going right.  For several years now I've tried to really note the positives in my life, even when most of it is circling the drain, yet I often find myself incapable of halting the cycle. It seems to have it's own life force.  After a couple days, when it's run it's course, then I'm back to normal, but I'll be damned if I can't short circuit it sooner.

On that note, go compliment someone. Make it someone you know and a total stranger. Smile when you greet someone or are greeted. And go forth, for better or worse, because it beats staring at a computer screen alone all day.

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