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Monday, January 27, 2014

Accentuate The Negative!

I’ve had a wonderful evening…but this wasn’t it. - Groucho Marx

“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”
― Herman MelvilleMoby-Dick

My colleague Hank B is taking on more positive, upbeat posts this next year. I wish him the best of luck.

Me, I’m going negative.

We are in an age of anxiety, stress and depression. I think I know why.

We are under the grip of rampant positivity.  

How many times a day do your hear someone say that something is “Awesome” or “Amazing“ or “The Best Thing Ever”! 

Amazing? Really? Dude, it’s a brownie.

I used to know a guy who would respond to “How are you?” with “EXCELLENT! And getting BETTER!!”. 

Oh, and what’s after “BETTER”?  “HYSTERICAL! And getting PSYCHOTIC!!”

It’s meaningless. What is more accurate, and more reliable, is to go negative.

Some say wisdom is a process of disillusionment, meaning that we “dis-Illusion” ourselves, or shed our biases and assumptions based on life experience. And those illusions are really failed experiments in living.

Think about it:

We are much better at figuring out what we don’t know than what we know.

We are better at discovering what doesn’t work, than figuring out what does work.

We are very clear about who we don’t like, but struggle to find and keep a mate,friendships, and families.

We can’t agree on one right way to do something, but we can agree on plenty of wrong ways to do something.

In politics, we agree on what we don’t want the government to do, but not on what we want it to do.

We are pretty clear on what foods are bad for us, but constantly chase after the next new thing that is good for us.

Religions agree on the “thou shalt nots” but can’t agree on the “thou shalls”.

And, of course, its easier to break something than it is to build it

So next time someone asks (as we say in Jersey) “How you doin’?” I won’t say “Excellent, and getting better!” 

I’ll say “Not bad, but it could be worse.”

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