I guess it’s probably human nature that we make negative evaluations often. We get annoyed when we get cut off in traffic, we gossip about other people, we complain when something doesn’t go our way. Perfectly ideal situations are few and far in between if they exist at all, but still I wonder why it seems easiest to speak negatively about what goes on around us, whether it’s light hearted and jovial, or in hopeless desperation (both of which seem to appear often in discussing the current political climate).
I catch myself being prompted and ready to do this often, and it’s only after a moment of hesitation that I realize it. Naturally, I’m a quiet person. I enjoy talking to others but don’t always jump at opportunities to share my thoughts and opinions. Though this has probably kept me from getting to know some people (though you’d be surprised how much someone will tell you if you just keep listening), it has, on more than one occasion, prevented me from putting my foot in my mouth.
And beyond situations where I prevent myself from saying something stupid, in many instances I realize — after pausing for a moment and holding on to what I was going to say — that my reaction would’ve served no purpose other than to manifest a negative idea. And the longer I hold onto that thought, the less it desires to be heard.
And I don’t find that these trivial negative comments build up in my head and later culminate into something larger and more angry, but rather that I can, in each instance, let it go after just a few seconds. In reflecting on moments like those, I’ve seen that there’s power in leaving things unsaid. Giving pause to impulse of course promotes thoughtfulness, but also a feeling of stoic maturity (I do mean stoicism in the philosophical sense, at risk of sounding pretentious).
There is something to be said for the potential lost in harping on trivial moments of inconvenience or trouble…”
This isn’t to say that bottling up your feelings and avoiding self-expression is a good thing. You probably shouldn’t avoid feeling negative emotions just to wait for positive ones, because this would mean feeling none at all in the meantime. However, there is something to be said for the potential lost in harping on trivial moments of inconvenience or trouble, or even grating annoyances. That is, potential to lend your focus elsewhere, whether that’s to positive moments and a happy-go-lucky feeling or simply to being more productive and considering more relevant and meaningful concerns. There’s only so much time in a day to which you can dedicate your thoughts and actions, and losing that to moments where the universe is against you is, in my opinion, a waste. The Balboa school of thought would tell you, after being hit by a substantial obstacle, to get up and keep moving forward, but it seems to me that anything that doesn’t knock you down, isn’t worth breaking your stride for.
And in this case, where there’s opportunity to avoid loss, you can also find room for growth. With each inconvenience that rolls off your back, you condition yourself to better handle strife in the future. Being college students, and of an age that technically makes us an adult but really only in the legal sense, it would appear that this is the time when we should learn how to do just that. You can imagine the difference between an adult that goes unbothered when their will is tested, and one that becomes frustrated at the small. And then imagine how you would like to be seen by those who will be in our current position in the future.
Next time you feel the heat rise in your chest as you become frustrated at something, take a step outside of the situation and see it and yourself from the perspective of an observer, and not that of an actor. Then you can decide whether it’s valuable enough to take up your time. There’s a good chance it isn’t.