Retirement: What puts you down?

Nothing to smile about..
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Even the best of us has a down day from time to time. In truth it is hard to stay positive today because we live in a world that glorifies the negative and ridicules the positive. Negativity surrounds us from the radio and television shows, print media and 95% of the people we meet. Have a good attitude and society marks you with a bulls eye. A good attitude is a target for negativity because negative people can’t stand the idea the anybody could be happy. They feel compelled to set you straight. We are all vulnerable to negativity but in different ways.

The first way that negativity attacks is very personal. It targets your self worth, your beliefs and your accomplishments. Few people today will build up and encourage you especially if you hold yourself to high standards. People today are fixated with equality. They can’t stand anyone who holds themselves to a higher standard than they do. They can’t abide the idea that you want more, do more and give more than they do and they will do whatever it takes to pull you down to their level. Often they won’t realize what they are doing. In their minds, they are protecting you from disappointment and frustration. You get sucked into feeling appreciation for their concern when they are no better than the people who blatantly tear you down. Either way the result is destructive to your attitude and commitment.

Then there is the constant negativity about the world around you. All my life, there has been some terrible problem that will destroy the world as we know it. I remember the Club of Rome predictions that the world would run our of everything before 2000. This was indirectly linked to the hysteria that over population would destroy the world. Neither has happened! Then there was the prediction that an ice age was coming and soon we would be seeing the return of the glaciers. Maybe you remember the ozone hole hysteria. We were all going to die from radiation. None of those things happened. These stories were propagated by ‘credible’ sources – academics and scientists: the sort of people we were taught to believe and respect. We learned that education and degrees do not guarantee intelligence, judgment or wisdom and that the smartest people can be wrong as often as they are right- just like you. We learned that there is a correction in nature that is wiser and more powerful than any program man can invent. Thoughtful people eventually notice that these disasters never happen and ignore prognostication. Unfortunately there is always a ready market for gloom and doom among the young and unthinking. This drives popular culture and means that as soon as one disaster fades from memory (they are never publicly discredited) another springs up.

Staying positive against these forces is difficult. It requires tremendous will and stamina and the full understanding of the forces massing to take you down. You have to recognize and reject them. You have to remain optimistic no matter how foolish that may seem. I’m interested in your stories of overcoming negativity. How do you keep positive against these forces?

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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Bob November 10, 2010, 9:50 am

    This probably says more about me than I’d like, but I have a “solution” to the negativity problem that is wearing people down: I ignore what causes it.

    I used to read two newspapers cover to cover every morning. I’d watch CNBC and CNN for a few hours a day to stay up to date on the financial world and news stories. I read a dozen magazines a week.

    Besides burning up huge chunks of my time, I was becoming increasingly sarcastic and angry. I was allowing all the stupidity in the world to invade my world.

    So, a year or so ago I just stopped. I canceled the papers, stopped watching the cable news channels, cut back to three non-news magazines, and found my attitude improved tremendously.

    Of course I know that ignoring the day to day chatter doesn’t make the problems go away. As a member of this society I know have a responsibility to try to make things better.

    But, wallowing in the negative end of the pool was not accomplishing anything.
    Bob’s last Blog Post ..Asking for Help – When is it OK

    • Ralph November 10, 2010, 10:01 am

      I think you have a perfect solution. It has always been my belief that it something important happens – like the end of the world- I will get the word somehow. Meanwhile I am not troubled by things I can’t control.

  • Bob @ November 11, 2010, 5:35 am

    Ralph…your comment hits it dead on. It’s the Serenity Prayer:

    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    The courage to change the things I can,
    And the wisdom to know the difference.

    We just need to not let the first…search for serenity…give us excuses to not have the courage for the second

  • Ralph November 11, 2010, 7:53 am

    The prayer captures the thinking man’s approach. Being oblivious is another one.
    Ralph’s last Blog Post ..Retirement Health- The FDA is killing people

  • Steve Skinner November 11, 2010, 3:24 pm

    In my working days as a forester, predictions of gloom and doom was everywhere. Regardless of what we did, it was wrong and brought great heaps of criticism upon our organization. When I was feeling like screaming, I would make a trip to the woods and spend time walking and just plain enjoying the landscape. No phone, email, computer, or radio. Just me and the trees!

    • Ralph November 11, 2010, 5:25 pm

      I’ll bet that you have experienced lots of negative (and lots of poor policy mandates as well). You had the advantage of beautiful surroundings and the ability to be by yourself. What are you doing now?

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