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Warmest regards: River of Negativity

Published August 10. 2018 11:27PM

It happened again today.

A friend I like tried hard to convert me to her religion, even though I made it obvious her efforts were futile.

She was too caught up in her inappropriate emotions to notice.

No, the religion she wanted me to join wasn’t that of any church. Her religion is one I call the River of Negativity.

I’m sure you know about the River of Negativity. It flows when you dwell in the land criticism and condemnation … when you find fault with everyone and go on to constantly voice your negative feelings, hoping to convert others to your way of thinking.

Maybe I’d better explain the circumstances so you understand what I’m talking about. My friend, who is good and sweet but doesn’t allow for any viewpoint except her own, made the mistake of doing this in work too many times.

She loudly complained to her co-workers that all the boss’s decisions were dumb. She did it so much that others were uncomfortable.

Finally, in a nice manner, the office manager met privately with my friend, telling her how important it is to have loyalty and camaraderie. In the interest of workplace harmony, my friend was advised to keep negativity out of the office.

In response, my friend screamed at the office manager, telling her she “didn’t understand what was going on.” Then she wondered why she was told it would be best for everyone if she would find employment elsewhere.

How do I know all this? My friend told me, wanting me to agree with her and condemn the boss, the manager and the entire office.

A year later, that boss was honored for some heroic work he did in the community. When he was honored for that, I wrote a story after interviewing about a dozen people who sang his praises.

See — that’s what I do. I write positive stories.

My friend likes my positive stories — but only when they agree with her viewpoint.

Waving my newspaper article at me, she wanted to know why I didn’t print “all the bad things he did,” including firing her for no reason.

To tell the truth, I occasionally get asked why I don’t include “the dirt” as well as the glitter in someone’s life.

I always say it’s because that’s not what I do. The world is drowning in negativity. No one needs me to add to it. There are so many good people in life and I am delighted to be able to write about them.

That incident I told you about was the second time in one week that someone I like and respect wanted me to smear a worthwhile organization in print. She wanted it done because she didn’t have her facts right. She’ll understand after I see her in person and we talk about it.

What I do is tell stories. Good stories about good people.

I figure if readers are interested in negative stories that tear down instead of building up, there are many other places to go for that kind of coverage.

I’m not quite a Pollyanna, but I am persistently optimistic, seeking goodness and light, not the dark side of life.

One dictionary defines a Pollyanna as “an excessively or blindly optimistic person.”

Another dictionary defines it as someone who is unreasonably or illogically optimistic.

It’s interesting to note the origin of Pollyanna.

It originated in 1913 when American author Eleanor Porter captured readers with a book about Pollyanna, an orphan girl who, despite the difficulties of her life, is always extremely cheerful.

The heroine of the book, Pollyanna Whittier, found cause for gladness in the most difficult situations. Back then in more innocent times, the Pollyanna books were extremely popular and captured the imaginations of millions.

Today, unfortunately, people don’t mean it as a compliment when they call you a Pollyanna.

I’m sure I would rather be called a Pollyanna than a constant complainer. I can complain with the best of them when it’s justified — just ask my husband. But it’s not the state in which I want to live.

I think I’m upbeat and optimistic and, for the most part, I prefer being with positive people. That doesn’t mean I want my friends to share only happy feelings. In true friendships we share the good and bad and bolster each other through tough times. I value genuine friendships like that.

What I don’t value are those who are vociferously negative all the time. If they want to constantly criticize and rip down other people, that’s their business.

But I don’t want them to think I have to share every single one of their negative feelings.

There’s a song from “South Pacific” that says we learn to hate those our relatives hate. Whether it’s friends or family, we don’t have to accept someone else’s hatred and adopt it as our own.

In the same manner, I can respect someone’s negative feelings but I don’t have to adopt every negative feeling as my own.

I have eased away from some friendships when I thought their constant criticism of others was destructive, both to those who were their targets and also to those who formed a willing audience.

I refuse to drown in the River of Negativity. And if that makes me a Pollyanna, I’ll wear the badge with pride.

Contact Pattie Mihalik at

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