Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Against a Culture of Negativity

We've all seen them.  You know, the 140 character miniature tirades about how at least they "keep it real" and therefore shouldn't be labeled as inappropriate or unkind for having just been inappropriate and unkind.  Or the bio that warns readers that what they'll see might be offensive or cruel or pessimistic.  But hey, at least they "keep it real", right? 

When did "real" start meaning "bad"?  Or angry?  Or disrespectful?  Or rude?    "Real" never seems to mean hopeful or gracious.  It doesn't conjure up images of a person enjoying their life, celebrating their gifts, and sharing their talents.  No.  What "I keep it real" means, generally, is this: "I live in the richest nation on earth and was born with no physical or mental handicaps.  I am wealthy and educated enough to have access to and use social media.  There is no imminent threat to my life or well-being.  So therefore, I am miserable and generally disappointed with my lot and you, dear sir or madam, are not only going to hear about it, you're going to like it."

It's true that I've been accused of being too enthusiastic.  Too happy.  Too friendly.  Yes, she told me I was too friendly and I giggled, because surely she was joking, but then the look on her face told me she was not.  Because apparently if I am nice, then people might like me too much and there are other people that they are supposed to be liking more.  And so it will be my fault if the people that they are supposed to be liking more are sad because instead of paying more attention to them they are being friends with me because I am too friendly.  So I should be less friendly so that more of the friendliness can be spread around to those who are less friendly.  Or something like that.  I still don't get it.  Perhaps I'm just too enthusiastic and the whole explanation fell out of my brain, what with my constant bouncing around in sheer joy and all.

But let me tell you, faithful readers, that I am just as "real" as any pessimistic fool you stumble across on the internet.  I was born in the wealthiest, most beautiful country on earth to smart, beautiful parents in a time and in a place where women can vote and slavery has been abolished.  I am healthy and strong and capable.  I've lived a million adventures and been to more places than most people could dream of.  I chase my able-bodied children through a home that is warm and lie down to sleep next to a kind man who tolerates my idiosyncrasies and makes a mean sourdough.  He knows what kind of wine I like and covers my pizza in veggies. 

Oh sure, I have my days.  My moments of frustration and sadness.  But why, when there is so much good and wonder all around me, should those be the times I cultivate?  Pouring my heart out here is hard work and I refuse to work hard at glorifying disappointments.  If it serves a greater good, puts something into perspective, or puts a smile on your face, then I'm willing to paint a "real" picture that is something other than jubilant, but I refuse to participate in a culture that labels only that which is harsh and depressing as "real". 

My good fortune is real.  My luck, my incredible life, is real.  So I'm gonna "keep it real" when I tell you that I am a lucky, happy woman.  I am a daughter to a most generous heavenly Father and a sister in Christ to the kindest, most caring people that a girl could ever hope to meet.  And I once ran eight whole miles without stopping. 

An amazing world of happiness and optimism is right here friends, and I'll tell you what- it is absolutely real.  All you have to do is take it.

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  1. I think being honest about what we have is part of being real. I think a lot of times people try to down play their blessings. We should be grateful for our good fortune! Good post!

  2. This is so true:
    What "I keep it real" means, generally, is this: "I live in the richest nation on earth and was born with no physical or mental handicaps. I am wealthy and educated enough to have access to and use social media. There is no imminent threat to my life or well-being. So therefore, I am miserable and generally disappointed with my lot and you, dear sir or madam, are not only going to hear about it, you're going to like it."
    Preach on sister. I so agree with that.

    Granted there are some folks who just are bitter and unhappy all the time. I'm sure there is a whole niche of them out there bonding together. Kind of the way that many of us are all band together.

  3. Awesome post - one of my faves thus far. Having spent a lot of time in third world countries as well as "first world" countries, I feel a great appreciation for the freedoms we have and my good fortune to be born here, now, to wonderful parents, and brought up to be a God fearing Christian grateful for every blessing! Thanks for your upbeat yet very "real" reminder! <3

  4. Amen sister. One thing I have found from adoring my children: people keep telling me it will get worse. And it never has.

    (Example: I didn't have terrible two boys. "Oh, then three is going to be really bad.")

    I am mom to one warm-hearted, sweet and yes sometimes crabby teen. I love him more than you can imagine. I feel blessed to have him in my life; and his sweet sassy little brother too.

  5. Love this post, Dwija. I'm hugging you in my heart.

  6. Thanks for an uplifting post. It's astonishing to me what some people take for granted.

  7. I love it. Thanks for the great post!

  8. GAWD you're just so happy! And that's the way I like it :) I think that happiness is a choice; and it can be found in just about anywhere while doing just about anything.

    'Pouring my heart out here is hard work and I refuse to work hard at glorifying disappointments.' EXACTLY.

    (But I do appreciate good sarcasm, and there is a fine line between funny and mean. People who tout that they 'keep it real' often cross it.)

  9. oh sweetie, you hit it right on the head today!!! I too, have been accused of being a bit 'pollyanna' but, hey I would rather be called that then a grumpy old lady! :) You just keep doing what you are doing and smiling and shining that light my friend!!!!
    I love you just the way you are...we can go skipping and giggling together, two pollyannas!!! LOL

  10. You know, I try hard to carry perspective with me. It's gray and chilly here, but my house is standing, unlike thousands in the south. I have a sinus infection, but I have friends who have battled REAL illnesses, so just play hurt. I have only one child, but there are many women who would give everything they have for one, so one is a HUGE blessing. I am not happy all the time, and sometimes I have to hit myself hard with the perspective stick, but it works.

    I wouldn't mind always being Pollyanna first.

    Sorry someone hurt your feelings.

  11. Thank you for all your sweet comments and great insight, everyone. Y'all know...I mean KNOW that I can be just as snarky and sarcastic as the next person (just read the blog, right? ;) ) and I have my UGH moments...it's the concept of insults, ridicule and moping being "real" in contrast to compliments, support and joy (which therefore are...what? fake?). I'd just like people to explore a full range of REAL and also appreciate that, um, hello....have you met America? It's a pretty friggin' sweet place to live.

  12. I love you and your happy words. :)

  13. You ran 8 whole miles without stopping?!?! Not even once?!?! LOL

    Great post! I've been avoiding Facebook like the plague the last few days because the tirade of negative comments regarding world events has just been a little too "real" for me to handle.

    I watch CNN people, I'm brushed on current events, but I can really do without the "Repost this if you agree" angry statement of the day.

    I much prefer my days filled with sweet giggles, finger paints, sloppy spaghetti and a funtastic Micky Mouse Clubhouse marathon! <3

  14. I often talk about how, when I started my blog, it was to be an off-shoot of my book; memoirs of my mother, growing up in an abusive home and becoming her caregiver when Alzheimer's hit.

    Let's be honest, there are only so many posts one can share about dealing with these sad situations and I've quickly learned to let my sarcasm prevail and have my wicked way with other topics. I do make great effort to urge anyone experiencing, or who has gone through, what I have to contact me; I'm a great listener.

    Aside from all of this, I consider myself one fortunate lady to have met people like you, Dweej, along with so many others I follow from FTLOB and beyond. I enjoy the fun, honesty, random rants and more; I love the reality that pops up on my screen, good, bad or indifferent.

    Like you, I consider myself damn lucky to have risen above difficult situations and watch my life and family blossom. The power to change, and better, any situation lies within everyone; I refuse to be constantly negative although I have moments, now and then.

    Keep up the enthusiasm...please!


  15. Drat. Now I have to go delete my "keepin it real" post. Sigh.

    I have also been told I am "too nice" way too many times. In fact it used to be the big "negative" on my score card at work. You know when I had my CUSTOMER SERVICE job.

  16. *virtual high five*

    This is why I like you. Positive doesn't equal fake. You'll live a longer, more full life than all those "real" folks. Enjoy it all!

  17. Thanks, Dweej! I've had a sucky day and needed this. Sometimes it seems like the world is full of negativity and petty, mean people. It's nice to be reminded that there are "good ones" still out there.

  18. Yes, yes, yes!!! And thank you! Recently I said to a family member, "God will provide." The response? A disbelieving look and an, "Oh honey, you're so young." Guess what? He has! Several times over since then. That's "keeping it real."

  19. Well said, Dwija! Thanks for the reality check :)

  20. Oooh, check out all my mysterious anonymous comments today. So exciting!

  21. Saw Arwen tweet about this post and love it. As a guy, it speaks to me differently, but well.

    Will be following, and intrigued about your CA - MI move. We did a similar thing but we went MI - AK.

  22. Agreed. I keep it real because I have clean, potable running water and more than one pair of shoes.

  23. Very well written!
    Because I know you I will defend your honor.
    Dweej is "For Real"
    You are an inspiration to me.
    People who have negativity in their lives cannot stand a Real positive person because they cannot see it in themselves.
    What you see in others is what you see in yourself.
    Anyone who cannot find a positive person inside themselves should take a deep look at their knowledge of knowing.
    I think it is pretty sad that someone may not see a positive self.

  24. So glad this is how I started my morning. I wish all us optimists could share in a big high five! Life is good!

  25. The happy real you or the snarky and funny you.... hmmmm....I love them both!!

  26. You are an absolute blessing to all of us who read your writing.

    "This is the day which the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

    I love your rejoicing. Rejoice on about your life!

  27. It's a longstanding belief/running joke amongst the Irish, that those of Irish blood (guilty!) can always find someonec "worse off". As in, "Faith and Begorra! Ya' jes got hit by that big bus and it look like yer wee leg is broken!", and the reply, ""Ah well, 'tis. But, I'm doing much better than that himself over there: he's dead!"!
    Of course, it's all a choice. I learned that when our baby died. I had to make a conscience choice to look for the blessings and ask for joy, when it would have been so easy to be angry at God and point out how awful I had it. Not easy and, on some days, it was a choice I had to make every waking minute. But, it was still worth it
    I'm blessed. My husband is blessed. Our children (here and in Heaven) are blessed. Thank you for recognizing the fact that the ultimate Truth IS Joy!
    Now, go with your happy self!

  28. Oh Mary Kate...I am so glad I 'met' you. After a lifetime of raising God's children and enduring such a horrendous loss, you still manage to put a smile on your face. Irish or not, that takes true strength of character!

  29. I can't believe someone told you that you were too friendly! Bizarre. I agreed with everything you said, but also felt ashamed (as usual) of my depression and anxiety. I wish I could just snap out of it by keeping a more positive mindset, but honestly the only thing that has helped is medication. Keep that smile on your face!! The world needs more people like you :)

  30. Oh sweetie, depression and anxiety are very real and not to be taken lightly! Please don't feel ashamed, ever. I definitely should have been more clear. What I'm taking issue with is people who rationalize their prejudice and hate by saying that they're just "being real". Hope that helps. I definitely didn't want to admonish people for genuine emotions- all of which are very real!

    Thank you so much for reading and your honest comment :)

  31. Oh gosh.....I hope I am wrong and I know for certain when I plugged your blog on my own blog that I didn't mention anything about "keeping it real" but I can't help but feel this is in response to my post on May 2nd on my own blog. Again, I am begging, praying to the blogging gods that this post was not in response to my own. I am hoping it's not about me at all....I love, love, LOVE your blog, Dwija, and if this IS in response to my own post, please KNOW that what I wrote about your blog was meant to draw more people to you - not to offend or accuse you of being too friendly or anything else. Okay, I've said too much because if this isn't about me, I feel really silly now.

    Hugs, Dwija! I'm still reading and love hearing about the goings on of you and your family.

  32. Oh no! Please don't worry about that. I LOVED your plug, and it was very real ;) I promise this has been brewing in my mind for *years* and it wasn't anything that happened in bloggy land. Cross my heart!

  33. Awww,

    All these comments are so amazing! Every one of you out there is awesome. So unique and yet we all have two things in common, hands down, without a shadow of a doubt:

    (1) We are each a daughter or son of a loving and--I dare say, laughing (after all, we are created in His image, are we not?)--Heavenly Father. He loves each of us as if we were His only child and He sends us VERY real and VERY happy messages EVERY second of EVERY day!!!!

    and (2) We all LOVE Dwija's incredible talent because we all* seek happiness. (*Unfortunately, I am not speaking of the rhetorical "we all," because, as is the topic of this particular post, there are those out there in the "real" (NOT!) world who seem to seek for negativity and shock value.)

    All of us HULU (no, not the TV site, I mean House Unseen, Life Unscripted =D) followers have positive energy that attracts more positive energy to us! I LOVE it!!!

    Also, a little side note to those few beautiful people who shared about their trials with the rest of us (i.e., depression, etc.) I just want to say -- I think we've all been a little bit of "been there," maybe not in the same ways but we've had our not-so-fun-in-the-sun. Which is why it's so great to see us all finding positivity!!!

    I know this is ridiculously long (sorry, I should just work on my OWN blog, haha) but I have to say one more hopefully-poignant thing:

    Dwija and her family left (my beloved home state) Sunny California and NOT ONCE has she ever mentioned looking back. I mean the kind of looking back we humans are prone to doing, the regretful kind.

    I think that is the key to being the Good Kind of Real. So here's to Not Looking Back! (except, of course, with fondness for the good times.)

    Thank you so much Dweej! Your Blog-Stalker, Sister and Friend, E =)

  34. Thank you so very much for this.

  35. Keep on keeping it real-- which includes honestly accepting our excellent good fortunes and being grateful.

  36. I don't know how the rest of the commenter’s here found your HouseUnseen blogspot, but as for me, I Googled the title "Culture of Negativity". The reason; I happen to live in a housing complex where there are many black people and negativity is quite prevalent. So, although I can certainly appreciate someone like yourself expressing a truth that is in dire need of expression, it also seems to me that your post touches on a subject that is largely avoided and not considered politically correct in our society.

    It used to be that such negativity was primarily associated with only black American culture. However, along with the growth and success of a few black dominated musical genres, came an obvious subliminal message to the general masses and youth of our county. That message has been that negativity is really okay and not something both deplorable and debilitating.

    With this kind of implied consent from American leadership, is it any wonder that so many youth in our country grow up confused and travel down a road of failure? Is it any wonder that American mores have been gradually declining and are now at a dangerous tipping point? There is no doubt that the leaders of our country (both religious and otherwise) have come woefully short of mounting an effective counter-attack to this insidious condition.

    The question is why? Has it really been just a general lack of fortitude …a lack of backbone? Or is it something else? There does seem to be a general consensus that the consequences are going to be severe for the future of our country. Could it be that our leaders are truly dumbfounded and totally perplexed by this problem? I don’t know. However, it seems to me that forming a non-profit devoted to addressing this one single issue might be a good starting point. As far as I know, this one big step hasn’t yet occurred. Or maybe I’m wrong. Does anyone know of such an entity?

  37. Thank you for your comment, Brian. Perhaps it is because of my age or where I've lived, but I have not personally experienced this phenomenon as race related. The people who have expressed negative life views in my presence have all been white.

    Hopelessness and anger are not limited by racial or socio-economic boundaries. The problem in my eyes is one of faith. I believe in a small government and a big God. Hope and love are common qualities in the truly faithful people I've met, so to me the solution lies in spreading the Jesus' message. Before my conversion to Catholicism, I was a card-carrying member of the culture of negativity. His grace is what saved me. All I can hope to do is to be a mirror of that grace to others.

  38. I really love this. Another draft I have started is similar...but about people always complaining about spouses. What's with that? My hubby is awesome and I'm proud to say so!

  39. When I see someone sad, I always think, she is refusing something to Jesus…Cheerfulness is a sign of a generous and mortified person who forgetting all things, even herself, tries to please God in all she does for souls. Cheerfulness is often a cloak which hides a life of sacrifice, continual union with God, fervor and generosity. A person who has this gift of cheerfulness very often reaches a great height of perfection. For God loves a cheerful giver.” ~ Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta


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