Positivity is everywhere we look. At least, we are led to believe this. Posters throughout schools, friends post positivity quotes on Facebook, inspirational pictures at work (which I always found amusing considering the general morale in the building). I even get a “Daily Motivation” forwarded to my email from a friend. It could be perceived as oversaturation. Many of us are numb to it mostly because we see this stuff all the time.
Personally, they come in handy. I try to be a very positive person. It works, most of the time. Some of the other times, I actually need to pay attention to the posters, Facebook affirmations and my friend’s “Daily Motivation” emails. I read them and have sort of a “woo-sah” moment. And it actually helps a lot.
I had a moment of clarity a while back. One that changed my life. I noticed that I was a fairly negative person. I took a step back to figure out why and, most importantly, how I could change it.
I have always been a moody person. My wife could bend your ears for hours about my moods. However, I am more aware of it now. Most of the time I can recognize it and not take it out on others. Or at least warn my loved ones that it’s “one of those days.” I feel like my best coping mechanism is actually reading a quote or email or whatever works for me that day. Take a minute or two to realize that, hey, I’m living and breathing and relatively healthy. My little “woo-sah” moment. It also helps to hop on my bike, take a ride and clear my head. Or better yet, throw on the gloves and go at the punching bag for a good half hour. Whatever works for you, it’s important to get that negativity out. That stuff’s poison, man.
But positivity is so much more than just not being moody. It’s actually doing positive things. I have some people in my life who seem to have the most positive outlook on life. They are refreshing and inspirational. Some of them, I have discovered, do not actually practice what they preach. It’s unsettling. Now, I am not the one to judge them. And I do not love them any less. But it does break my heart a little.
No one is perfect. I am far from it. Far from it. But I feel like I know what it means to be a good person. On the inside as well as the outside. A general rule of thumb for me is: Would I be ashamed if someone knew about what I am doing? My friends? My wife? My kids?
Our lives touch so many people. People that we don’t even realize. Our actions can affect so many different lives. My brother and I have come to call this “The Ripple Effect,” named appropriately because of certain people in our lives damaging so many others by their actions. Yes, damaging. If you think about it, you can probably notice a bit of this going on around you. Don’t be surprised to find out if you may be the one that started the “ripple” at some point. I know I’ve been guilty of it on occasion, which is part of the reason for this about face in my life.
As most everything does in my life, this thought process has really come into focus as I became a father. What kind of lives do I want my kids to have? Not one surrounded by negativity, that’s for sure. Now, I can’t completely shield my kids from negativity. I talked about that a few weeks ago. But I can enforce a positive environment in their home. Kids notice a lot more than we realize. This becomes more and more evident to me every day. So I try to keep in mind: How will my “Ripple Effect” affect my kids? It’s worked pretty well thus far.
My kids have far more drive, determination and, yes, positivity than I ever had a kid. My daughter at 9 is running races that I didn’t know existed at 9. And she loves school! Just straight up loves to learn. That is awesome. My oldest son is a beast on the football field and is a true student of the game. All while making grades that put my middle school report cards to shame. And No. 4 is the most open minded 5-year-old I’ve ever known. Loves his veggies, loves music — all music — and is always happy. Always.
They have very far to go and much to learn. But I like to think that this is a great foundation for leading positive lives. They strive for excellence, happiness and know how to learn life’s little lessons. And, perhaps most importantly, they know to enjoy life along the way.
Is this a product of the positive environment I’ve strived to provide for them over the years? I don’t know. I’d like to think so. And if it is, I don’t mind patting myself on the back a little bit for that.