When I was in middle school, I distinctly remember looking out the school bus window at a random pedestrian and thinking, “Wow, she’s ugly.” And then, for some unknown reason, something shifted inside me and I was suddenly aware of (and ashamed and horrified at) my own thoughts. Was this how I wanted to see the world? Did I want to be someone who casually picked apart everything, derisive and smug? What an ugly way to live. From that point on, I made a deliberate attempt to change my outlook, or at least my conscious reaction to my world. I worked to see the positives and the potential, rather than to mock and dismiss. And yes, I realize this all sounds a bit PollyAnna-ish. And no, I wasn’t always successful. But I’ve always thought of that moment on the bus as helping me to positively change the way I responded to and interacted with the world.
But lately, I haven’t been comfortable with myself. My thoughts and my internal dialogue have been dark and unkind and I’ve felt vaguely uneasy. Then, yesterday, something shifted again. I recalled that long-ago pivotal moment on the bus and realized that, so many years later, I’ve once again tuned in to the radio frequency “Negativity”–quick to complain rather than to compliment, to see ugliness rather than beauty, to denigrate rather than too celebrate and to dwell on loss rather than on good fortune. I have allowed pessimism and fear to seep back into my world like ink wicking into cotton paper, coloring my outlook in unsightly blotches. But more importantly, yesterday I also remembered that I have a choice. I can turn the radio dial and change the frequency.
And so that’s what I’m doing. I will seek to compliment rather than to complain, to seek and acknowledge beauty even amidst ugliness, to celebrate rather than to denigrate and to treasure my good fortune rather than to dwell on what has been lost. I have promised myself to embrace the positives and reject the negatives and to be thankful for all that I have and hold in my rich, comfortable life. For there is so much.