Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pragmatic Positivism*

Sadness. Depression. The Blues. 

"Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final." ~r. rilke

Sometimes I feel like a lot of what is said on the interwebs is always spun to the positive. We only share the good stuff, which creates a false impression of the shiny world/lives we live. And while my life is lovely, please don’t be deluded by the glittery façade. I have my own challenges. Life is not perfect. But I choose to be happy. I choose to find joy. And I’m working on surrounding myself with pragmatic positivism*.

However, on the other side of the spectrum, I find a lot of depressing souls out there on the interwebs. And maybe you have valid reasons to be depressed. Medical, financial, etc. I’m not going to dare to say otherwise because I don’t really know your situation. And I would never dare to belittle what you are or have gone through.

I’m not writing this to comment on that. I’m writing this to comment on resiliency and what you put out into the universe being reflected back at you.

In your darkest moments, when you feel the most alone I want to say that it will get better. If you feel dark and never take the time to find joy, but always just expect it to show up, it never will. However, I really do think, baring medical conditions, that happiness is a choice and that you have to actively choose it. It might not get better right away. And it might not get better the way you expect it to get better, or even want it to get better. But if you are resilient by nature, it will get better because you won't allow yourself to wallow indefinitely.

When I first moved away from the west coast, I really had a hard time finding my fit into the public pagan community. I just couldn't figure out why everyone else seemed to fit better than me. I’m a likeable gal, it’s a proven and verifiable fact, I've got some amazing friends, so why weren't people liking me, dang nabbit!?! Looking back, I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt that part of my challenges when it came to building community (not all of them), stemmed from the energy that I was putting out there, bemoaning my difficulties. Yes, yours truly was gauche enough to actually whine in public about how hard it was, how people don’t seem to notice me, about why was I a shadow that is so easily forgotten, especially given that I’m so loud and opinionated by nature?

Oh the ironies of it all now! I see it clearly. I see it in others. And I see my own response to this behaviour. Of course I wasn’t attracting positivity to me. Who in their right mind would want to take on my baggage, having just met me? I wouldn’t and don’t. 

So how do we break this cycle and bring positivity back into our life in order to draw people in and enrich our world. I think it all comes down to gratitude and seeing what you already have, right now, right in front of you, even in the darkest moments. And please, keep in mind that I write this knowing that it isn’t easy. I have struggled with depression. I have the scars and the lessons to go with it. And I know when the darkness strikes, that I have to pull myself out before I’m overwhelmed.

Here’s what I do: I watch people and try to see them with love. I look for the little things that remind me that people are essentially kind and caring. I look for the moment that someone holds the door for the mother or offers a seat to the elderly person on the metro. And yes, there are a shitload of inconsiderate jerks out there who fail to notice, or pretend not to notice others around them. But when you start looking for it, you start seeing it more and more. And it comes back to you because you take the time to see and express your gratitude for it, even if only in your head. And by extension you start to see love in the world more. And the Goddess at work through us. And you start to know the Goddess in the little things and that brings hope, and with hope, joy.

Maybe this isn’t what works for you. Maybe this is just my approach. But when I look at my life, yes, I see the crap :alcoholic biological father, critical and kind of cold mother, huge student loan debts, living in the broom closet because of my in-laws, living far from my nearest and dearest, moving to suburbia, the extra 30 lbs I now carry, the fact that I feel like it has taken me too long to figure my shit out, etc, etc, etc. But I also see the good stuff: an amazing stepdad who loves me like his own, a mother who taught me independence and freedom of religion, the great education I have, in-laws who are generous of heart, this amazing city and culture I live in, the home I’m building with my husband, my overall good health and the knee that is healing, and the fact that I am in a great place and living my dreams even if at a slower pace and differently than I had anticipated! And that makes it better. That’s what I focus on, which is why I see how truly amazing my life is.

So while I think it’s important to be honest and that it can’t all be sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, I do think that a little pragmatic positivism can go a really long way. You want more friends, more community, & more joy: cast a “spell” over the way you’re thinking about the world you live in. 

Expect less, appreciate more. 

Find what makes your heart sing. Remember that the Goddess is alive and afoot. Seek her and him out in the small moments of joy, generosity, and compassion. Look for her love in the faces of strangers because the world is full of small kindnesses that often go unnoticed. 

*pragmatic positivism: my term. Meaning that I know that it ain’t all sunshine and rainbows but that I’m still looking for the brighter side of things. The glass is half full and I’m lucky enough to have more juice in the fridge and water in the tap! Despite every challenge, debt, disappointment, I live in Canada, which makes me part of the worldwide 1% (even if I’m part of the 99% in Canada). I choose joy, love, and gratitude for what I do have even when what I don’t have often feels overwhelming. And I know that the hard times, even if they REALLY suck, only help make me appreciate the good times that much more.

This post might get me some heated flaming. I know that. But honestly, I'm just sick of the woe is me shit that is out there and felt the need to address it, constructively. There are always exceptions to the rules, and if you feel that you're one of them, so be it. I didn't address this to anyone in particular. It is a response to an ongoing observation I've had since joining the broader public pagan community (in person and online). Again, please let me reiterate: I didn't write this with "YOU" in mind. I didn't write this in response to anyone's posts, comments, etc. It's just been something that's been stewing for a while and I wrote it because I felt the need to put it out there. It's not an attack, comment on your choice per se, or a call to a flaming war. If you see yourself in this piece, that is because of your perception, not my intention. Hopefully I have made that as clear as clear can be via the interwebs!

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