Have you ever noticed how some people grumble, complain, and gossip about every little irritant in life?
Things like: “That jerk cut me off in traffic. Can you believe what she said to me? The food at this restaurant is terrible and the service is so slow.”
It’s like their mouths are constantly vomiting what’s wrong with their world. And eventually that negativism spills over into our world. We become naysayers and negative-nellies our self.
What if we declared a Happy-News Zone? What if we told our loved ones who seem to complain about everything, that we’ve set a boundary: we agree that we’ll only report Happy News to each other.
Happy News like: “I enjoyed babysitting our grandchildren today. This cup of coffee tastes good. I’m grateful for the gift of you in my life.”
By setting a Happy-News Zone we might teach the naysayers in our life to look at the positive instead of the negative, and our day-to-day world becomes fresh, new, positive too.
Certainly, sometimes there’s occasions where we need to vent with a loved one, so we can sort out our feelings and find a solution to a problem. But, when that negativity becomes a too familiar pattern of constant grumbling in us or our loved ones, that’s the time we can declare a Happy-News Zone.
My mother had a favorite saying she would tell us kids ad nauseam:
Two men looked out of prison bars.
One saw mud.
The other saw stars.
While we laughed at her sometimes when she repeated that story over and over, she was right. She was reminding us that our perspective shapes and molds our attitudes. We can look at any situation and focus on the negative or we can dig a little deeper and find the positive.
Recently, I went to my cottage for a few days to do some writing and enjoy some solitude. As I sat down to pray and write, sipping a nice warm cup of coffee, my tool-time Tim neighbor decided he needed to power wash his cottage. The gift of solitude and the joyful refrain of the robins singing outside my window were soon drowned out by the drone of a power-washer engine. Zzzz! Zzzz! Zzzz!
My immediate reaction was anger. Seriously? I thought. I can’t escape from the noise and clamor of the world even up here!
But then I focused on the beauty outside my window. I noticed the calm gentle breeze across the lake. The rich green foliage of the maple trees unfolding across the landscape. And I listened for a moment to the gentle snore of my dog Riley resting at my feet.
What’s right with my world? I asked myself. Lots. And maybe tool-time Tim’s irritating engine is my teacher.
Life has many irritants. They’re part of the landscape of being human. And I have a choice at how I look at them. I can look at them as mud as I stare out of my self-imposed negative prison bars; or I can look at the stars in my life, the good things with which I’ve been gifted. And when I choose to focus on the positive—the Happy-News—gratitude sets me free.
—brian j plachta
In this fast-paced, often overwhelming world, it’s important to develop life-giving practices that teach us how to slow down and care for ourselves. Taking time to focus on our breath—both during quiet times of meditation and throughout the day—restores our balance and inner peace.