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Turning Over New Leaf

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?

29 comments:

  1. Maybe because most are use to hearing complaints from others? "Misery loves company"... Frankly,maybe if the ones who can't take the good news its because they don't have any to share? For example, there some things not going so well in my life and I know some friends have not encountered what I am going thru... and I know that if I hear a piece of good news from them, I might be envious, tho I am definitely happy for them...

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  2. KBF: A very honest response. I am impressed. I agree with the misery-loves-company theory. I do wonder, however, why even nice people become envious.

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  3. Your text is very interesting and it applies completely to a country like mine - Portugal - where people are always complaining about everything. We are now living bad times because of the economical situation, but instead of discussing how to overcome it, everybody express their feelings about how bad iy is and they are. We are rational beeings, we should look for and live the best live has to offer us, because we do not live a long time...

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  4. Interesting question! I´m curious about the answers;)

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  5. @JJ: In response to your comment about nice people being envious... " the grass is always/seems greener'? lol... I guess it depends on the envy- for me, what some have ( not material things) I wished I always had... One example: I had two friends whose families I adored- their family let them speak their minds, the parents were open minded.. I could talk to one friend's Dad openly about things and he never was negative... he may not have agreed, but the knew how to word things in a way that made me think...

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  6. FanaticoUm: Exactly! It does not only exist in Portugal. It seems to be the same all over the world.

    mARTy: I, too, am very interested in the responses. I have quite a few followers that are deep thinkers. I generally learn a great deal from blogging. Thanks for your comments.

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  7. KBF: I agree with the grass/greener comment. I see it daily with my college students. They can't wait to get to wherever they're going because it is so much better than where they are.

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  8. JJ, I like this post a lot. I used to not be able to take personal successes gracefully or to embrace happy moments for what they are. I think a lot of that was because I was young, insecure, and had very low self esteem. Time and experience and letting go of past dysfunctions helped me get out of the dungeons.

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  9. Some people are only happy when they are miserable.

    Being your usual positive self around negetive people may be a good influence on them too.

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  10. The word "cant" i always say to my boys there's no such word as cant, if you try it and you struggle find another way, find your way so you can do it, there is no right or wrong. I think we live in a world where we are always having the negative thrown at us. The news is always negative which is why i dont listen all the time, i take enough on board to get me through life. I try to be a positive thinking person too and i cant speak for others but i embrace the good things that happen with open arms. Dee ;-)

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  11. I used to watch the news & listen to it quite regularly but found that it was often ... no, I correct that, it was almost always BAD. Instead I choose to read the weekend newspaper where there seems to be a good mix of all kinds of news and I can select which articles (news) I wish to read and take space in my head.
    I'm not sure JJ why some people are this way ... I guess it must come back to how they were raised & their experiences. Maybe whining & whinging has served them well in the past, in getting them the attention they desired. I don't know .... but what I do know is that it's not for me.
    When my children were small I used to always tell them to be "Have a go kids" and despite their skills deficits with learning they almost always did & I would praise their attempts. My husbands life motto is "Where there's a will there's a way" and he most certainly lives up to this motto.
    Give me happy times any second, any minute, any day of the month & I will be graciously happy!

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  12. My friends: I agree with all of you. Blogging with you makes me very happy. Thank you.

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  13. As does blogging with you JJ! :)

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  14. I believe in the law of attraction. You can only attract to you that which vibrates in harmony with you. Positive builds on positive and negative builds on negative. With that in mind, if I want something and I know that I am not in the most positive place I tend to not "go for it" then. Instead, I build on my positives until I get there. I want to be in a place where I am in vibrational harmony with what I am seeking. For example, right now I am sick. I feel terrible (on top of my migraine and other issues, which I cope with on some days better than others), so right now is not a good time to go chasing my dreams. I am not in a place of serenity or good vibrational harmony with what I want. I am self-aware enough to know this. I also know that I won't be like this forever, and that this Big Idea was never mine in the first place. So, things will work out that it will come to pass. I have faith in all of that.

    However, as for your post in general... if someone decides that they can't do something, than they most certainly can't. The opposite hold true as well. The people who succeed are simply the ones who failed the most. Eventually they had to get it right. Persistence is the name of the game.

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  15. Robin: Deepak Chopra (or one of his followers) has taught you well! As usual, you are right on the money. Of course, having a real physical problem is much different than being unhappy because your neighbor bought a new car. I think your attitude is quite good (probably better than you think it is!). Thanks for your insight.

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  16. Its easier to fall than climb, I say this from being at the bottom a few times. People tell the bad things as they are not things that should be kept inside as they fester and rot and eat you up, they need to be let out and the best people are thoses who are not close to you as the feelings are often tied to those who are close so it end up being about them. The good things the joy thats what warms your heart its like wrapping yourself in a blanket you don't need to tell.

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  17. This post made me smile and laugh, thanks. I would have really liked your father-in-law too. Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

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  18. Chibi Janine: Great point! It is not good to keep things inside. As long as we don't drown in our sorrows, sharing with our friends is helpful. Friends want to help.

    Miriam: Everyone loved my father-in-law. Good man.

    Finder: Thank you very much!

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  20. Thanks JJ. You've brought a very interesting theme.

    One of my friend is a nice person. She never talks about something negative about others. One day we had a dinner together. At that night she looked unusally upset. I asked her what'd happened? She said, you know Mrs.A. I went to her birthday party last night. Mrs. A had left her husband for another man, but recently come back to him.
    I said, that's wonderful! Yes, it is, said my friend. But you know what? A's husband presented her an Omega watch which costs over 10000 Euro! Then I saw why my friend looked so upset. She is one of the nicest person I've ever met. Generous, helping and giving. She is even richer than A and can afford Omegas. However she is envious of A. She said, all the jewleries which A has are original, there's no double.

    " God, please protect me from my friends, from my enemies I can protect myself." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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  21. They forgot to build the hotel--I love that!

    So many things to think about from your post and the comments.

    I think one of the reasons people share bad news is to connect. We all want to connect with others. It is less scary to connect by complaining. You are less vulnerable. Putting yourself out there with postive comments invites attack.

    And why is that? Because of fear, I think. Scarcity thinking. If you have positive news, or if something good has happened to someone, maybe that means I am not going to get something, or that I don't measure up, or that I can't compete.

    And finally, I think it is based on habits. We have a habit of thinking about things in a certain way, or communicating in a certain way. Sitting around complaining about the weather or about our most recent aches and pains, for example, is something everyone is familiar with. Walking in and saying it's a great day, or I'm so happy this happened to someone is not a familiar habit for many people.

    So we can look at this from two angles. Identify the fear and change our habits.

    Thanks for writing about this. It is something I have thought about in connection to why people are reluctant to give themselves permission to be happy.

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  22. lotus-eater: Great story. Your Goethe quote is perfect!

    Galen Pearl: Thanks for your comments. I agree. Putting oneself out there positively invites attack. I often find myself telling people that I am not knocking anyone. I am only indicating a perception or feeling. "I really like my Chevrolet" often translates to people as "I don't like your Ford."

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  23. ummm, thought provoking post. I like the horse story, too.
    Some people thrive on complaining. For them, negativity is the shadow side of positive. I doubt if they are aware of their Saturnine personality. I've learned to nod at negative people but pass them by. That way, my positive remains protected. Is that selfish of me? I don't think so, it's just that I chose positive over negative.
    Adios

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  24. Manzanita: Protecting the positive is what it's all about. No one wants to be dragged into the doldrums of negativity. It is not selfish at all. Adios, amiga.

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  25. JJ- Thanks for following me. I'm a pretty straight shooter (figuratively as well as literally) and I don't often entertain flowery prose or high brow thoughts. I could, of course, but it's just not me.
    On the subject of negativity and people seeming to embrace it: I have uttered the words, 'she's just not happy unless she's complaining' way too many times. As of lately I find I have very little time for the people I have said this about. There's a huge difference between those who discuss a problem or issue and then actually take action and those who just wallow.
    I have a friend who says it well. When someone won't stop going on and on about their miserable situation, she says, 'well, the talkin' part's over...'
    My theory- the healthier you get in this life, the less time and effort you spend with those who drag you down. Part of that whole knowing better and doing better thing.
    As usual, being educated even on an emotional level is extremely important.

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  26. 'Yellow Rose' Jasmine: Thanks for following me as well. I love the "wallow" comparison. That is exactly what I mean. There is a huge difference between helping or caring and getting dragged down by someone.

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  27. I much prefer to be around optimists, but let me tell you the story about one who got his foot stuck in the railraod tracks one day ....

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  28. Nick: I would love to hear it! Thanks.

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