Written by: Kathryn Frattarola
Good advice and something that we could all use a little more of in this day and age. Kathryn Frattarola’s short essay in Thought Catalog needs to be read by more people on the Internet.
I’ve had three articles published on Thought Catalog so far, and upon the publication of my latest, I noticed that very few people who wrote comments had nice things to say.
They either disagreed with one or all of the points I made or they just hated the article altogether. While I’m pretty impervious to criticism that isn’t constructive, I am downright bothered by our inability to appreciate the positive things we feel about someone or something. If we like something, we keep our mouth shut about it, or we discuss it as minimally as possible. If we don’t, we’re extremely vocal about it. We are more drawn to the negative than to the positive. We are choosing to be miserable and make others miserable as well.
Lately, I’ve noticed that many of my conversations strictly dwell on the critical aspects of things, even if whatever it is I’m discussing with the other person isn’t necessarily bad. I feel like we have become structured to expect perfection, nitpicking at the lacking elements while completely ignoring the pleasant ones. I’m not exempt from this, I’m guilty too. I want to know what it is that we’re so insecure about.
Perhaps we’re programmed to expect rejection automatically when pursuing something we’re deserving of, be it a job, a relationship, or maybe even just general happiness. Maybe we don’t want to compliment a person because we’re afraid they won’t be receptive.
We won’t chase our dreams or desires because we’re pretty sure that we’re unworthy and unqualified. We think back to all those school age childhood crushes that we kept to ourselves. We couldn’t tell him or her how we felt because we were scared of the reaction and the consequences. And today, maybe we can’t tell the person we love that we love them because we go into these things certain that they’re unreciprocated. We can’t accept or cope with the pain that comes with rejection, so we act to prevent it altogether.
We struggle to accentuate the positive when we’re asked. Our friends and family just want to know how it’s going, and the first thing that pops into our heads isn’t the thing we should be happiest about. Instead, we look for the thing that could be better, or maybe even the worst thing possible, and we share that.
What I want to know is why we’re afraid to share the good things. Maybe we’re afraid of losing the things we’re happiest about once we share them with others. The moment we tell others about our happiness is the moment we become unhappy. Maybe, like I said before, we expect others to resent our happiness or insult it because they are unhappy. Maybe we don’t want to sound like we’re bragging or foolish. We are afraid that if we share good news with other people, we will seem immune to suffering. Either way, we spend so much time criticizing even the things that bring us joy that eventually, we lose the optimism and happiness that we should cherish about ourselves.
Instead, we should take the time each day to say one nice and/or positive thing. It doesn’t matter who or what it’s about, but it should be nice. It should be a genuine expression of the graciousness and happiness that we too often to shy away from. And if we can’t muster up the words to say something nice today, there’s always tomorrow.