“A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.”
Herm Albright 1876-1944
What has happened to the meaning of the word, positive?
I almost feel like I’m composing a eulogy for a departed friend. When I was introduced to Positive, it was by W. Clement Stone. He showed me the value of PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) and how being friends with Positive could make my life better.
Stone also helped me understand that PMA wasn’t very useful if it only stayed in my head. It was a tool to guide and drive action.
There were others available to teach me about Positive too. People like Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightengale, Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield, and more. All of them taught me about Positive from a different angle, and they all conferred that just thinking about Positive would do limited good.
The responsibility to make things happen was still on me.
I’ve always understood Positive to be about moving forward, taking appropriate action based on what I wanted and what I had. It makes me a little sad, but it seems that Positive has changed over years.
The changes may not have been at Postive‘s choosing. Others have taken Positive‘s intention, it’s original and intended meaning, and twisted it to their own designs. Maybe I have too.
To best understand what Positive has become, let’s look at the way I’ve always viewed Positive.
- Positive is not about becoming blind to pain, problems, and hardship.
- Positive does not help you when you fake it.
- Positive does not want to take the place of action.
- Positive loves critical thinking and questioning, because when Positive is involved there is always a solution available.
- Positive is not the ability to detach from reality.
- Positive is the conscious choice to approach reality with courage.
- Positive can listen and appreciate your pain and the pain of others.
- Positive does not discard the notion of problems because it is inconvenient or uncomfortable.
- Positive does not shut itself off from the world because Negative might get in.
- Positive and Negative are, always have been, and always will be connected.
Of all the statements just made, the last one is perhaps the most important. This may stretch your thinking a little, but you cannot have Positive without Negative. Just like there is no dark without light, no wet without dry, and no here without there.
Maybe the lack of understanding about this duality, and the idea that you can somehow eliminate Negative by just ignoring it, is why Positive as I’ve known it has passed on. Somewhere in the midst of teaching people the complexity of how to use Positive and Negative, it just became easier to tell them to only acknowledge one and completely ignore the other.
For many it seems, Positive has become an excuse for delusion, ignorance, and plain stupidity. Examples of firing people for “being negative” when all they were doing is questioning a policy. Accumulating debt because they don’t believe anything bad can happen. These things aren’t Positive, they’re dumb.
Perhaps it is time to re-redefine one of my favorite words, or abandon it all together. Maybe where we are headed now is courage. The ability to grip reality with both hands and make a determination to do something forward moving and productive. A commitment to understanding problems and having an attitude, a mindset, that causes us to look for solutions instead of rolling over.
I will layout that courageous mindset over the next several posts and how we can all achieve it.
In the meantime, what are your thoughts about the state of Positivity?