On being a positive person without self-deception

There’s something about being positive

I’ve been thinking, for some time, about what it means to be a positive person.

People often describe me as a positive person, and while that may be somewhat accurate because of the way I put forward myself and what I believe, I’m inclined to say that I’m neither positive nor negative.

I’m just a person who knows where to head to and I make sure that I’m in the right direction and get closer to my destination.

I don’t need any extra energy pumping – well, this is how I would picture a stereotypical positive person, although probably those who describe me as a positive person don’t really have this image of a positive person. What I would assume from this kind of people who need extra energy pumping is that they may be trying too hard in staying positive, when they don’t need to try anything at all.

I wonder if such a try-hard behaviour is a form of self-deception. That is, by trying hard to pump extra positivity into themselves, I wonder if they are denying what’s happening to them or telling themselves that they are who they actually aren’t.

Three Women by Boston Teran

Few days ago, I finished reading Boston Teran‘s novel called Three Women. It was written in 2004, and as far as I’m concerned, the original English version of it hasn’t been published. I read its Japanese translation. There’s a French translation available as well.

Eve the protagonist of the novel is hearing-impaired and struggles to find her place as she grows up due to her condition and her familty situation. She eventually gets into photography and it becomes the main way for her to connect with the world with sounds. Eve’s mother Clarissa supports Eve, but she struggles too – she gets treated badly and beaten by her husband, who deals drugs. One day, Clarissa and Eve meet Fran, who is originally from Germany and later becomes the most reliable supporter for Clarissa and Eve. Even though Fran is a strong woman, she has a painful past and often relies on alchol to save herself from the pain of the past.

A lot of terrible things happen to Eve, and she does get knocked down by these terrible things, but she manages to stand up again. You can pretty much find a structure like this one in any other stories, and it didn’t have to be this story for me either, but I happened to read this book while I had been thinking about positivity and it made me think more about this concept. (Having said that, I really enjoyed reading this novel. I wish it had been published in English too.)

On being a positive person: What I think

For me, being a positive person is not about taking a look only at the good stuff and ignoring the bad stuff. But it’s about accepting the good stuff and the bad stuff, and then turning the bad stuff into the good stuff.

If you ignore the bad stuff, then I believe you’re deceiving yourself by treating the bad stuff as if it doesn’t exist at all.

You can focus on the good stuff and I believe we should choose to focus on the good stuff, but we shouldn’t ignore the bad stuff. On one hand, acknowledging the bad stuff requires your courage and by using your courage you will be stronger as a person. On the other hand, ignoring it leads you to be some kind of denial about what’s happening to you. Being positive and being in denial don’t seem to fit with one another.

These thoughts reminded me of my favorite TED talks by Scott Stratten and by Brené Brown, which I introduced in this post and this post. Check them out and see how they interact with your view on positivity.

So. This is what I think about positivity. Now it’s your turn to tell me what it means for you to be a positive person. Any thoughts?


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Photo: Caja Mediterráneo