These times. They are changing. When I was growing up, my grandmother ("Granny") frequently reminded me..."Michael, if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Admittedly, I haven't always followed her advice as good and insightful as it was. However, in recent years as I received an increasing number of take-a-shot texts/emails, watched more so-called "unbiased" reporting on the news, and witnessed so many politicians explaining how "the other side" is totally wrong, I've been reminded how important her instruction was then...and why it is so much more important today.
Why are we experiencing more negativity? I'm not sure what has caused it--we seem to blame everything on "the internet" these day--but, clearly we are hearing more negative comments about other people than ever before. One frequent "arena of negativity" takes place within small groups of "friends" or one-on-one conversations as one member decides to say something less-than-flattering about another who, of course, is not there to defend themselves. For some strange reason, we think that we lift ourselves up by tearing someone else down.
Making the Choice to turn off the negativity. If you want to improve your life--and have others enjoy their time with you more--you need to turn off the switch that allows you to say something negative about another person. You have to cultivate the practice of just letting something go and not commenting at all when the opportunity for negativity arises. On our website Living with Goodness (www.livingwithgoodness.com), there is a lesson titled Kindness Matters which contains the following quote by Roy T. Bennett from his book The Light in the Heart:
Treat everyone with respect and kindness,
not because they are nice, but because YOU are.
We hurt ourselves when we are negative about others. Another important point...we have to recognize that in the communications-based world in which we live these days, we are being conditioned, and increasingly so, to believe that negative words and comments are okay and that they only impact "the other guy." But, that's just not true. We have only so many opportunities to be nice and kind to others each day. When we waste some of them with our negativity, we are impacting our opportunity to develop our own life in good and positive ways. We will never improve our lives--or anyone's for that matter--by criticizing or tearing another person down. Dale Carnegie, in his well-known book How to Win Friends and Influence People, was very blunt when he clarified who typically criticizes others with this comment:
Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain--
and most fools do.
Make this important choice--be nice to everyone...whether you like them or not.