Trying to be a More Interesting Person

I know some folks tend to focus on the negative and on what they don’t like.

Believe me – the people who raised me taught me this. Sadly – this focus on the negative was one of their superpowers. They could and did find a flaw with everything and anything and anyone. No one and nothing was above their stony-eyed critique.

They also taught me just how destructive and hurtful this can be.

And – in spite of growing up immersed in this world of negativity and critique – I just don’t understand why anyone would want to live this way.   Why anyone would want to live a life focused on what you don’t like. Looking for the negative. Looking for the flaws. Pointing out to others what I think they are doing wrong. Thinking so much about what makes you unhappy and upset. The very idea of living this way exhausts me and it breaks my heart.

Of course – there are things that I don’t like. So many things. Of course – I see junk and gross stuff happening all around me. Of course – I have things I disagree with.   I most certainly dislike a multitude of things (sweet potatoes – celery – trips to the dentist – and meanness).   I even think and talk about and discuss them. But I try not to dwell on them for too long – because I don’t like the person I become when I focus on the negative.

When I focus on the negative it is like I can feel my very heart shriveling up inside me and withering away. When I focus on the negative I feel myself changing into someone I don’t want to be . . . Negativity begets negativity.   Negativity spreads and grows.   Negativity is contagious.

Instead – I try to look for the good in a situation.

I regularly refocus. I intentionally (try valiantly to) shift my thinking and focus all of the time.

The clerk at the grocery store was distracted. I could be deeply annoyed with him. Or – I could be understanding and remember he has a complicated life too. There is a reason he is distracted. Perhaps his daughter is sick – his son is struggling in school – he has a huge car repair bill. Or maybe his coffee just hasn’t kicked in yet . . .

The same goes for the nurse at the allergy doctor’s office who seemed especially jabby/stabby last week when she was giving me my allergy shots!

Someone sporting an outfit in public I wouldn’t be caught wearing unless it were literally the last set of clothing on the entire planet. I admire her self-confidence and self-expression.   I would love to have that kind of self-esteem. But – I have always found both fashion and self-expression intriguing.

I actively refocus my thinking when I find myself seeking the negative or getting particularly self-absorbed (“navel-gazing” as my seminary professor called it.)

I try to remember that I will feel so much happier and better and folks will likely prefer to be in the same room with me if I am speaking words of kindness and love and understanding.   And if I mean them!!! The genuinely meaning the words of love and kindness part is quite important . . .

We are exhausted and fatigued and frayed around the edges these days (some of us more than others.) We are stressed out and overwhelmed.

This wretched pandemic is wearing us all down. I know that it is wearing me down. It is bringing out the less than splendid parts of us. Our human humanness is starting to show again . . .

When we are stressed (and I think most of us are stressed right now) we tend to be less patient – less kind – less understanding.

So we start dwelling on the flaws and what we don’t like. We start being less kind and a bit less likely to step up with the grace – understanding and compassion.

I am trying to be more patient. More understanding. Just a bit kinder. I am trying so hard to remember that most of the time it simply isn’t about me . . . and to let things go.   To smile more and to be gentler and more loving.

I am looking for the good and seeking the beauty and the lovely in as many situations as possible. I am trying to remember to stick with the knitting and to skip the to nit-picking and the fault finding. Some days – some moments that is easier than others (again with the human humanness).

I am a work in progress but at least I have a goal . . .  Goals are good.  Goals are excellent.  Goals tend to keep us focused and keep us from navel-gazing!

I pick Bible verses on occasion to ponder – to dwell on and to live with for a time. This week I am pondering a passage from Saint Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. It is perhaps the most famous passage of the Bible after John 3:16. You can’t go to a wedding without hearing it. But it isn’t just for married couples – it is for ALL of us.

Saint Paul writes to the church in Corinth and to us – “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

“Love never ends. ”

“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

Wow – I think – that I will need more than a week to absorb those words and the lessons there – don’t you? There is so much there to meditate on and consider and to apply to our lives.

And if nothing else – it will give us something much more interesting to think about in our free time than ourselves and what bugs us and we don’t like. It will probably make us nicer people and make us more interesting people to talk to also . . .And who doesn’t want to be more interesting?

 

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