I am not much of one for positive thinking. “Look on the bright side,” has always sounded to me suspiciously close to, “Your suffering does not matter, if it’s even real, and even if it is real, I don’t want to hear your whining because why should anybody care about your little woes?” My grown-up head knows that, “Look on the bright side…” is intended as a consolation, a counterweight to whatever feels overwhelming and gloomy, but my emotions do not always correspond with my venerable age. A shocking revelation, I know.
I am just as twitchy about the old, “You can’t change what happened to you, but you can control what you DO about it,” thinking. Sometimes, that’s valid. Just deal with bad luck or unkind fate, and soldier on. But other times, “what happened to you,” is the result of an institutional harm. More women are seriously injured in automobile accidents than men, despite women being the better drivers, because cars are designed to keep men safe at women’s expense.
You can go to all the rehab you want after that accident, get counseling, and cope with the PTSD, but keeping the focus on you “controlling what you do about” the accident obscures our deadly complacence as a society toward women’s safety on the road. Stop lecturing me about self-advocacy and my individual choices when you ought instead to be lecturing profit-driven car manufacturers about their responsibility for dead and maimed women.
I could go on. Suffice it to say, rose-colored glasses get a big old side eye from me. A little more pessimism in the planning stages of some of our social media enterprises might have saved us all a lot of angst and invasion of privacy.
But then I came across this post from Fred Wilson whose thing in life is venture capital. (I don’t know beans from Shinola about venture capital or non-fungible whatevers.) His point is that if you’re given a choice between rooting for the Celtics or dissing the Knicks, rooting for the Celtics is the better option. Criticism and analysis have an important place, but not as a universal default. The universal default should be what we’re enthusiastic about, what we treasure.
I am highly critical of social media, but I treasure this blog. Doing business with some of the larger book retail platforms is an exercise in enduring frustration and disrespect, but a couple of the smaller platforms are absolutely delightful to deal with.
If I let negativity be my default–and there’s tons of conditioning pushing us in that direction–then a) I’m pretty miserable, and b) I lose sight of much that is legitimately joyful, and c) I’m likely to connect with only fellow doomsayers and reinforce my grouchy, anxious tendencies. Phooey on that.
So let’s keep the comments simple: What are three things that give you joy? I’ll start: This blog, spring flowers, a hot cup of jasmine green tea. Big joy right there. Your turn. I’ll add three commenters to my ARC list for the June release, Miss Delectable.