Sunday, December 5, 2010
Good News Is Hard To Take
Good News Is Hard To Take
Ever notice how some people get upset when they hear good news? Not everyone, of course, but even some people I like very much never seem to be content unless they are talking about their misery. Change the subject to something positive and you instantly become a skunk at a lawn party.
One of my closest friends, who lives on the other side of the country, is incapable of two minutes of telephone conversation without bringing up tragedy. "Hey! I haven't spoken to you in a while. How's everything going? Okay I guess, but my sister's neighbor went in for an operation last week and is now in a coma."
There is nothing like working hard all week, looking forward to a party on Saturday night, and heading home early with a mental schedule of everyone's upcoming medical appointments. Even the most festive celebrations can turn into events that feel like your romantic dream cruise was also booked by a thousand dentists from Minneapolis.
Kick off your shoes and enjoy a newscast on TV. Would you like to know the economy is improving? Would it feel nice to hear that you live in the nation's safest community? Would it not just make your day to hear that local high school kids raised an enormous sum of money for a good cause? Forget it! After the tenth auto accident, third train wreck, and fifth fire, it's time to think about those who will not be with you for the holidays.
Visit your local bookstore. The shelves are loaded with self-help guides. I figure it must be because nobody ever reads them. After all, if people help themselves to the point where they no longer have any difficulties, they will have no reason to live. I am not suggesting we become unsympathetic. I firmly believe in helping others, even strangers. As a world society, we have an obligation to help the less fortunate. We must support others by helping them through bad times. I have simply reached the conclusion that some folks don't want to be happy. If they read those self-help books, they might solve their problems, God forbid.
I have friends, and even family members who are not enamored with the fact that I do not acknowledge the idea behind the word can't. I look at life differently. When I hit a brick wall, I figure out how to get around it. I believe that attitude is commendable, but even people close to me find it obnoxious. No one wants to hear that something he or she is unable to do is actually possible. In my classes, I do not permit my students to use the word, can't. Whenever they do, I correct them by saying, "What you mean is that at this point in your young life you have not yet accomplished the task."
My father-in-law was the eternal optimist. He used to tell a story that stuck with everyone, even those who hated it. It went something like this:
There were two kids opening their Christmas presents. One was an optimist, the other a pessimist. The pessimist went first, and received a brand new bicycle. He immediately began to whine. "I'll probably fall off and break my arm. I might even get hit by a car"! Then the optimist unwrapped his present. It was a large box of horse manure. He immediately rolled up his shirtsleeves and began digging in the box saying, "There has to be a pony in here somewhere"!
Why do people expend an inordinate amount of energy explaining why their problems cannot be overcome, and relatively no energy finding solutions? Oh, sure they do. When the doctor tells you an operation is necessary, what is the first thing you do? Get a second opinion. When the second doctor says the operation is unnecessary, who makes the decision? You do!
Please do not get angry with me. I hate suggesting to people that how they live their lives just might be up to them. That's because I am always positive. As a result, one of my best vacations was the one where they forgot to build the hotel we booked.
Now I mean this with all my heart. I am very, very happy when good things happen to people. I do find, however, that many people are not. Please tell me - Why is good news so hard to take?