Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see
– Irving Berlin
Attitude is everything. A lot of the criticism that I hear about sunny folks is that they gloss over things and refuse to see the negative parts of life. I would argue that those people aren’t actually sunny – they’re just pretending. But that’s not the point.
The key to being sunny isn’t in not seeing the bad stuff, it’s in not letting the bad stuff rule you. It’s not a matter of what you see, it’s a matter of what you focus on.
Imagine you’re getting ready for a party. You’ve spent all day and your house looks fantastic and smells wonderful. You’re looking forward to a great night. Your guests start arriving and everyone is chatting.
Unlovely Rita arrives. She looks around the room and spots a small leaf that another guest accidentally tracked in, stoops down, and picks it up. She holds it up, looks at it, looks at you, says something like, “You poor thing. All the work to put this together, you didn’t even have time to vacuum.”
Everyone else saw the gleaming room, the sparkling mirrors, the cozy fire, the flowers, the candlelight. Unlovely Rita automatically gravitates to the only flaw she can find and seizes upon it.
To be charitable, some of this is probably natural. We strive to achieve an ideal world and we’re trained early on to spot imperfections, like in the Sesame Street song “One of these things doesn’t belong here…”
But who wants to live like this? Most of us are hard enough on ourselves without walking around through life followed by critics pointing out our mistakes.
Yes, there is room in the world for constructive criticism. But there is even more room for constructive encouragement.