How to stay positive in a negative world

Dear Daughter,

I used to work at the local newspaper, and even though I don’t work there anymore, I still read the paper online every day. (We’ll discuss the Digital vs. Print debate another time.) I like staying connected with what’s going on in the community; however, I make the mistake every time of clicking on the Comments link, to see what others have to say about certain stories. Why, oh why, do I subject myself to such misery?

People who comment on local news stories are the most negative people on the planet, in my opinion. They will find any reason at all to complain, and it usually goes back to politics. A story about a trip to a pumpkin patch will end up with comments about how our government should or shouldn’t subsidize farms or something.

One time, there was a heartwarming story about a little boy from Haiti who was adopted by a local couple. The adoption took place just months after a devastating earthquake in Haiti; who knows what kind of conditions the boy would have grown up in had he stayed there. Yet, of course, some schmuck on the message board for that story said, “How dare you adopt a child from another country when there are plenty of children here in our own country who need a family.” As you can see, they will find any reason at all to oppose pretty much anything that’s happening in our community.

And yet I keep reading the comments. I don’t know why. It’s like watching a train wreck, I suppose; my curiosity gets the best of me. But it also leaves me slightly depressed after reading the newspaper. Now the quaint pumpkin patch and the warm and fuzzy adoption story are forever tainted by the heartless comments of some very cold and bitter people.

I often wonder what makes people complain simply for the sake of complaining. We’re all guilty of it to some degree, but there are definitely certain individuals who choose to be negative 24/7. Almost as if it makes them happy to be miserable. What causes that? I’m sure if you’re dealt a rough hand in life, you’ll have a tendency to see things from a more realistic perspective, without rose-colored glasses. But realistic and bitter are two very different things. The former is wise, the latter is destructive.

Daughter, I assure you that there is good to be found in every circumstance, and sometimes that little ounce of good is all the hope we have to cling to. I encourage you to discipline your perspective on things, to purposefully look for the bright side rather than focus on the negative. Easier said than done, but it takes practice. And a little grace. While I don’t want you to be naive, I do want you to stay away from the kind of negativity that extinguishes joy. Don’t be one of those people who ruins a good story with meaningless pessimism.

And whatever you do, don’t read the comments.



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