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How to replace negativity with positive thinking

March 4, 2012


I read somewhere that one of the smoothest roads to happiness is to develop an ability to see the positive aspects of those things which, at first glance, may appear to be negatives.
Boy, am I familiar with negatives. They seem to be multiplying like rabbits at my house.
I can’t get my bank statement to balance, the kitchen sink has developed a slow drip and the Christmas decorations still clutter the guest room. They are waiting patiently and annoyingly to be taken to the attic. Can’t anyone around here do something for themselves.
To make things worse, I wandered around the garden at dawn to observe what perennials might be poking through. Some kind of thorny vine seems to have taken over the landscape. My porch lights are so dusty you can hardly tell there’s a light bulb in inside.
There’s this green stuff growing on the house. I think they call it mildew, and I’m feeling a little green myself. In an effort to gain some kind of control, I sat down and made a list of all the spring cleaning chores that need doing. It took two pages. I was so overwhelmed, I wanted to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head.
But I told myself to be strong. I vowed to take one chore each day and work on it at least 30 minutes. Baby steps, sure, but maybe in a couple of months the place won’t look so ragged.
Do we ever find a modicum of perfection in our lives? Maybe without the imperfect, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy or appreciate those perfect moments in our lives. Would we ever have a good hair day if we never had a bad hair day? (I wouldn’t know because I’m still waiting on a good hair day to show up.)
Some people insist we can find beauty hidden within the imperfections of life. Think about the Mona Lisa’s half-crooked smile, the Leaning Tower of Pisa or the pain of giving birth which produces new life. Imperfection can be lovely.
Right now I’m gazing at a fire ant bed under construction and trying to assign it some positive quality. I’m drawing a blank.
I’d rather have an administrative assistant to take care of all my chores, but what purpose would our lives have if we lacked the challenge to correct those imperfections? Life would eventually get pretty boring if everything were perfect, or so they say.
If we had no home improvement projects to excite us, no closets to clean out and refresh us or no kitchens to clean up before we get them dirty again, what would we do?
Simply put, imperfections add purpose to our lives. Without them, we would have nothing to reach for on our life’s journey. At least, this is the message I’m trying to ram through my own skull and its giving me a splitting headache.
Today, I’ll tackle the Christmas decorations. Then again, it’s only nine months until I’ll need them again. I think I’ll just let them live in the guest room this year — I won’t even need to change the sheets.
I read somewhere that as machines become more and more efficient and perfect, so it will become clear that the imperfection of man is what makes him human. Then, again, the writer was talking about men, not women.

Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement. She welcomes comments at

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