I try not to make resolutions, because as soon as I put a title on something (like “resolution”), or make it a conscious decision, BOOM!, the possible becomes impossible. I can be going along just fine, eating healthily, but as soon as I decide to eat healthy, suddenly I find myself surrounded by mountains of empty Oreo packages.
I do much better at doing better when I have no idea what I'm doing.
Which is how I came upon the happy realization that I have, of late, become Relentlessly Positive. Or Annoyingly Optimistic, depending upon your perspective.
This is a rather blatant rip-off of Furiously Happy, a hilarious (yet serious) book by The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson, in which she details her efforts to combat/confront her mental illness by setting out to have as much fun as possible. In my defense, being Relentlessly Positive does not always mean that I am Furiously Happy, only that I am Less Frequently Stressed, and quite often Not As Grumpy As I Could Be.
My accidental descent into Relentless Positivity was an act of self-preservation. Faced with Persistent Pessimism, Wanton Negativity, and Bitter Outbreaks of Generalized Anger – triggered at least in part by contagious political partisan poopy-ism – I decided to focus on the good that is, rather than the bad that might be.
The seeds of positivity were planted last year in a chance encounter at the gym. As I was leaving after a 5:30 am class (still grumbling about hating mornings), a cheerful young man was coming in for his 6:30 am workout. He told me that he made a conscious decision every morning to be in a good mood (even at 5:30).
I found his attitude wonderfully refreshing!
Actually, I thought he was a complete nut job – because it was 6:30 in the morning and I had not yet decided to be Relentlessly Positive. But now, now I see the method to his madness.
When I focus on making the best of a bad situation, or when I stop borrowing trouble by anticipating the worst, or when I ignore things that are just none of my business, I am a lot happier.
Unfortunately, Relentless Positivity does have its drawbacks. In the first place it is exhausting. There are a plethora of Cockeyed Pessimists out there just waiting to harsh your mellow or steal your parking space. And sometimes I get so caught up in ignoring the Negative Nancys (and minding my own business) that I speak without thinking (not an entirely new situation).
For example . . .
I recently took a bread-making class, and as we were mixing our dough the discussion turned to celebrity chefs. Someone mentioned that they used to like Chef FancyPants (not his real name), until they read that he had sex with a bride – not his own – in the kitchen while catering her reception.
Caught up in the powerful Zen of dough kneading and Relentless Positivity, my lips started moving before my brain started working. (See: “I do better when I don't know what I'm doing,” only not so much.)
“Well, these things happen,” I said.
A hush fell across the kitchen; the kind of hush usually reserved for statements such as “I eat kittens for breakfast,” or “I voted for Donald Clinton.”
Still not entirely cognizant of what I had already said, I never the less felt compelled to say more. Unfortunately, I still did not feel compelled to think prior to speaking.
“I mean, Eww!” I continued. “Not in the kitchen!” (For the record, this celebrity chef neither asked for nor received my approval for his actions. But really, the kitchen?)
Just like that, I officially became the Unofficial Craziest Lady in the room. As such, my classmates took to treating me the way people usually treat the extremely socially awkward – speaking slowly, using small words and avoiding eye contact when possible.
Which is all a long way of explaining that as we approach a new year, I (unconsciously) intend to continue to hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and keep my mouth shut about things I can't control.
Unless I don't. In which case I will most likely say things that are Incredibly Inappropriate.
And I am Relentlessly Positive about that.