Thursday, March 18, 2010

Not a Positive Thinker

Think positively and positive things will result.

Students' speeches in competitions and essays for writing class often reflect a very happy every day attitude, an overly optimistic feeling, a positive outlook on everything. Their writing is super sugary sweet and I often wonder is this really how they feel? Is this really who they are? Is the dormitory full of these happy, love life, nothing ever bad happens, negative emotions wiped away with positive thinking students?

A couple of student workers at the Tree House read my poem about being alone and commented, "Jennifer you seem to be always be looking for the deeper meanings behind things."

I commented back, "Chinese students seem to always write about positive happy things. Is this really how they feel?"

They explained that no they don't always feel happy but also feel alone, depressed, sad, angry and lonely, but they don't want to make other people uncomfortable by revealing such emotions.


Their explanation verifies the Chinese stereotype that I have been told about in culture trainings. Chinese people smile when they are happy and smile when they are angry, always revealing a smile to the outside world while hiding one's inner feelings. Why? To create and maintain harmony.

Many people in America think just the opposite. Just do it. Be direct. Say what you are thinking and feeling. Get it all out. Don't hide anything. Create conflict by being truthful then resolution can begin. By bundling up all those negative emotions, an explosion is bound to occur. Get it all out earlier than later to find peace.

Two opposite ideas.
Both searching for harmony and peace.

When I first encountered the positive happy every day attitude of the students, my American attitude cringed away from it, felt that it was somehow phony, thought it was boring and uninteresting. I was so pessimistic and cynical.

Maybe there is lesson behind the idea of think positively and positive things will result. In a world where there is so much pain and suffering why focus on that? Think about the good things in life and be thankful. Create harmony and peace through positive thinking. Nothing is permanent so why give negativity power by thinking about it?

Yet, I also wonder if this idea of think positively and positive things will result is also a way to lead the lambs to the slaughter. If one never shows their dissatisfaction and always believes that by thinking positively something good will result, that one should show happiness for the sake of harmony, couldn't this way of thinking keep a person imprisoned in terrible circumstances?

Hmm.... Maybe my question is only my negativity and pessimism revealing itself.

1 comment:

Pallas said...

I think that while by being positive, one should also maintain an ounce of "realistic" attitude..