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Dealing With The Default

| Matt Bednarsky

Imagine strolling through your local bookstore (if you’re fortunate enough to live in an area where those still exist) and stumbling upon the self-help section. You quickly peruse what’s before you, and you see titles like “The Power of Negative Thinking”, “How a Little Bit of Cynicism Goes a Long a Way”, and “Ease Up on the Self-Esteem”.

Quite ridiculous to picture, right?

But, I’d actually prefer to live in a world like that.

“Huh?” you say?

Of course, some clarification is in order on my part.

Today’s self-help section (a booming industry with seemingly endless content) is filled with ways of being more positive and more confident. We live in a world where people feel an inclination to be negative, cynical, and critical of themselves.

In other words, negativity is the default, and we look to whatever way to jostle us out of this pattern.

How did we, as a species, or at least in our cultures, develop to have a negative mindset?

[Disclaimer Sidenote: Of course, I can’t speak for all cultures. Potentially, many are not like what I’ve described. But, from what I’ve observed, many have, in some measure, a footprint of negativity.]

I truly hope you’re not this way. I truly hope your bounce back position is one of optimism, praise, and constructiveness, and that you may only rarely and briefly have your moments where sarcasm or scoffing claim a tiny victory. If you are as such, you’re either donned with this blessing, raised in a prize-worthy family or are some mutant in the next stage of human evolution. Either way, we need you!

But, I deduce that for most of us, we have to make an intentional and consistent effort at changing to positivity. We have to practice better behaviors, such as non-reactivity and focusing on the best possible outcome. We fall into abrasiveness rather than gentleness, and should we want to change that, it will require a rewiring of the default.

I don’t know why this is. I could make an educated guess that it’s a conglomeration of evolutionary development, lack of spiritual connection, corruption through excess power, and other factors, but I don’t know and I’m not sure anyone actually does.

But what I do know is I’d like to change, and I’d prefer to live in a world where the default is positivity.

So, going back to the alternate universe negative self-help section I described before, I’d presume those books would only be needed in a reality where positivity and self-esteem are the norms. In other words, they’d be working against the collective tide of positivity, in the same way, today’s self-help section works against the collective tide of negativity.

Myself, I’d prefer to swim with the positive tide.

To stay with a water metaphor, you can see the glass as half full or half empty, or you can just be grateful for what you got.

Whatever you have, drink it on up and be glad. I’d say that’s a better way.


More articles by Matt Bednarsky.