Be Happy…or Else! ~ Kathryn E. Livingston

Via Kathryn E. Livingstonon Aug 7, 2013

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Negative thinkers are the lepers of our society.

That may sound rough, but it’s the way it seems to me. So much emphasis is placed on being positive these days that anyone who complains, or so much as utters a negative word, may be ostracized. Who wants to hang around with a whiner?

I admit that when I’m in a positive mood I’m exactly this way, too. I have some friends (not yogis, of course) who tend to bitch and moan, and frankly, when I see them coming I sometimes run the other way. That negative stuff can rub off on you. Listening to negative self-talk (or other-talk) can be depressing and catchy. Who needs it?

On the other hand, when I’m in a bad mood myself (rare, but it does happen), it doesn’t seem fair that no one wants to listen to me anymore (except those few whiner friends I mentioned, who seem to thrive on the stuff). I once dated a fellow (many moons ago) whose eyes would glaze over whenever I complained. I could tell (and this was long, long before everyone knew about Esther Hicks, The Secret, or The Law of Attraction), that he had no patience for anything but good news. I had to close my throat chakra when I was around him, unless I was having a really good day. No surprise, the relationship ended.

My husband, on the other hand, willingly listens to my negative rants now and then. He’ll nod, and point out that I’m being negative, but he won’t turn away. He might suggest that we take a walk or go out for Lebanese food, but he’s a good sport about negativity because in my case (since I am basically an optimist), he knows it will pass.

I am a believer in positive affirmations, creating our reality from our thoughts (thus, the mantra “I am an idiot” is not a good one), looking on the bright side, and making lemonade out of lemons (lemons are luscious and alkaline, anyway, so what’s the problem?). But sometimes I think this positivity thing has gone a bit too far.

Sometimes I wish I could just say to my yogi friends, “I’m having a really bad day and life really sucks right now.” If I were to do that, however, I fear that many of them would bolt. Either that, or I’d get a stern lecture about being grateful.

And that’s okay, because I do believe in gratitude. But sometimes—no matter how happy and grateful we are—we have to admit that complaining is natural. Once in a while it’s okay to say you feel like crap. Once in a while, it’s okay to say things haven’t turned out perfectly. It’s even okay to say that some really terrible things have happened.

The key is to not keep saying it over and over again, making it your reality, your narrative, your story, and spreading your pain around to everyone else. I can’t blame people who don’t want to be around me when I’m feeling sorry for myself. But on the other hand, a yogi should have some compassion…even for the whiner. There’s a fine line between refusing to absorb someone else’s negative “stuff” and being a selfish, unfeeling, phony.

Accepting and loving yourself is just as important as anything else. So instead of beating yourself up for feeling bad now and then, just give yourself a hug. Even if you’re a yogi, you don’t have to be happy every second of every day.

Like every self-respecting yogini, most of the time, I choose to be happy. But once in a while, sad is more real. Once in a while, I choose to be sad, angry, agitated, reactive, pissed off, tearful, negative and just plain human. If you want to keep your yogi friends, just don’t make a habit of it, is all.

 

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Assist Ed: Renee Picard/Ed: Sara Crolick

 

 

About Kathryn E. Livingston

Kathryn E. Livingston has been writing about parenting issues for more than 25 years; recently, she’s turned her pen to yoga. Kathryn is especially drawn to Vinyasa, Iyengar, and Kundalini yoga, and is soon to engage in a Kundalini yoga teacher training. Read more on her blogThe Huffington Post or on Spirit Voyage. Check out her book of essays, All About Motherhood, or follow her on Twitter. Kathryn’s yoga memoir will be published in January, 2014.

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