It is my choice…


I have many people who post platitudes on the laws of attraction on my social networking sites. Most are either thought provoking or innocuous. While I believe that the law of attraction and the secret are tools we can use to achieve goals, dreams and happiness. It is only one tool in our tool box. Another one in mine is a good sense of humor.

So when someone posted a Joel Osteen platitude “you can’t think positive if you surround yourself with negative thinkers,” I made a joke.

“So how do you get rid of your family?” This got the intended laugh from the original poster, but then someone else chimed in.

This poster wanted to complain about my little joke saying they didn’t understand why people keep family that they hate in their life and I was to get rid of them.

I thought that this was assuming a lot. Just because there are negative people in my family– Hell they make an art out of their negativity, doesn’t mean that I hate them.

Quite the contrary I love my family. They are my blood. That doesn’t mean that I don’t understand them or acknowledge their short comings and faults.

I also know and understand that we don’t change anyone, only how we react to them. So I am not trying to change my negative family. I live my life and if they can’t understand me that’s ok too.

My family is largely negative, true. They grew up in times where war and abuse were much more common and tolerated than today. They are reactive, fearing abandonment by those closest and being left alone and vulnerable for their remaining years. Yet they love. They want what’s best for us, even if they can’t see past their own fears. Does this mean I should throw them away? Why? What purpose would it serve? Do any of us really think that by chucking our families out we will never run into this negativity again? Talk about delusional.

So why this blog? Well this little interaction got me thinking. First I should tell you I’m not a big preacher follower, I don’t see them as the “Shepards” to my “flock”. I don’t believe my soul needs saving and I certainly can’t follow anyone who tells me to give up 2/3 of my worldly good while driving an escalade.

That doesn’t mean that they occasionally get me thinking. I have a vague recollection of Joel Osteen, but I don’t follow him and probably wouldn’t know him if I walked into him.

But, it his quote (or the one attributed to him) that I want to talk about.

Surrounding yourself with only positive thinkers is next to impossible. That would be like living in modern US and only ever interacting with a single ethnicity. We all interact with a variety of people everyday. Even the Amish deal with “outsiders”.

Additionally, the human condition focuses on the negatives. Look at our news. Look at how we learn, by mistakes. Last night what brought the community out of their homes and interacting in the streets? A block party? No. It was a massive fire.

Do we do things in advance because it’s the right thing to do? No. We usually learn through tragedy. Everything from the insufficient communications and life boats on the Titanic to the latest terrorist bombings and shootings (whether foreign or domestic) we learn when we become outraged over a catalytic event and that pushes us to action.

So I understand that negativity is preprogrammed in our make up. So, that would make thinking positive a matter of choice. Every time we are faced with some form of negativity, every time we hear “you can’t” or “I can’t”, we are being issued a challenge. Now sometimes these are done with the best of intentions: to keep us out of harms way for example.

But, we should always question why? Assess if the answers are valid and then determine if there is a better way of doing something. For example:

If someone says you can’t eat cheese. “Why?”

“Well you are lactose in tolerant.”

“Oh so I can have cheese if I take lactate or lactose free cheese?”

“Well yes but it’s fattening?”

“So, if I eat it in moderation and maintain a healthy BMI, then I can have cheese?”

“Well yes but it’s gross?”

“I think it’s gross?”

“No, the way they make it is gross?”

“Worse than yogurt?”

“Ah, no.”

“Yogurt is good for us.”


“Worse than cottage cheese?”


“Thank you for your concern, but I think I will have a piece of cheese.”

“Do what you want, but ‘I’ wouldn’t eat that!”

“Ok waiter don’t put cheese on their fries.”

A silly example yes, but it highlights that it is our choice to have and do something we love. It is our choice to find positive solutions to challenges issued, and it’s our choice to pursue our passions despite those who would try to stop us.

They may react negatively to your choice out of fear, hatred, or a need to control things around them, yet that is their choice, not necessarily yours.

I had a friend ask me why I would go to a giant pillow fight. He thought it was strange and reacted very negatively to the idea. I simply asked him when he lost his child like sense of fun.

As kids we all participated in a pillow fight, we laughed and vented and had a good time. No one was malicious or intent on hurting each other. I never met someone who was hurt by a friendly pillow fight.

Yet it is the view if many that when you get beyond age 10 you must let go of these activities. Oddly enough it is these same folks that lament about their bodies getting old but the still feel young inside. Really? Even the elderly can participate in a gentle pillow fight? They choose to let themselves get old.

I liked the Golden Girls tv show because even though they were caricatures of average people, they showed that you are never too old to be silly, negative and positive folks can live and love together and in the end life is a choice.

So what is your choice?