You probably know some of them. They think positively all the time, they never say a negative word, and they seem to have no obvious problems. Except that their backs are twisted, they’re broke, they’re worried about their relatives, or they have any of a number of other, less noticeable problems. They have a strong sense of right and wrong and don’t fail to read the news and let you know who broke a rule, adding their ideas for how that person should be punished.
Let’s call one of those people Bill. Bill is a good guy and everybody loves him. He pays his taxes, helps the poor and elderly, donates to various organizations, and doesn’t talk about his personal problems. But he has them.
You watch him living his life and wish that it could be better for him. It just seems wrong that someone so kind and so positive should be suffering. But he clearly doesn’t want to talk about it and pushes you away if you try to say something kind to him. (And he’s right to do so — perhaps he wants to be distracted from his own problems and he’s letting you know that he doesn’t want to amplify them by dwelling on them.)
I think that Bill may be doing something that a lot of us try when we first hear about the benefits of living a positive life. Instead of feeling positive, we just “give it the old stiff upper lip.”
Putting a happy face out to the rest of the world, we still grind our teeth and badmouth other people, even if only inwardly. We are still very annoyed by much of what we see, worried about things, and worried about people. We’re not exactly waking up with a joyful feeling, ready to take on the world. But everyone we know would say, “There goes the happiest person in the world.”
This actually happened to me because I was practicing the dogma of Act As If.* That philosophy indicates that if you put a smile on your face no matter how you’re feeling, people will eventually smile back at you and your day will actually get better. It really works pretty well. One day, about 20 years ago, the boss sat down with me at the company cafeteria and said to me, “You know, I think that you are the only truly happy person that works here.” I didn’t want to pop her bubble and say that the Beck test I just took affirmed that I was actually in a very deep state of depression, so I just smiled back and said something nice. It really was nice that she thought well of me — that’s for sure.
When I started studying the Abraham-Hicks material, I discovered that I could actually learn to do more than put on a happy face. I could actually shift my attention toward things that really made me feel good. In essence, I was learning how to elevate my mood without drugs, candy, alcohol, or any of the other usual elevators. I began to realize that although I was an incredibly polite person, I often had very angry inner dialogues about or with people in my head. Incredibly, I came to realize that even if you appear to be a very mellow, happy person, those inner dialogues actually count. It’s like a person cheating and getting caught. You can’t cheat in God’s classroom.
I’ve learned to truly mold my energy at times so that I actually do feel great. As long as I am able to maintain it, life seems to send me even more things to feel great about. In fact, I actually manifested miracles! (Check out this post: https://feelinggoodtoday.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/a-miracle-in-chicago/)
But, from time to time, and sometimes for weeks on end, I don’t put in the effort required to shift my thoughts. If I’m thinking about some problem, I just let myself think about it and don’t try to think about something that makes me feel good. (Unfortunately, dwelling on the problem doesn’t normally bring a solution, which is much more likely to occur to me while I’m in the shower.) I don’t necessarily dip back down into depression because I’ve trained myself to feel better most of the time and it’s largely a matter of habit. But I don’t always take the time and make the effort to feel GREAT! And the miracles tend to slow down in the coming.
I really do believe now that the difference between the truly positive life and the fake, stiff-upper-lip life is a matter of feeling good, not just acting like you feel good. And I believe, as book after article after news story tells us, that reducing stress promotes better health and coordination, leading to fewer illnesses and accidents.
Am I concerned about my Bill-like friends? Sure. But when I focus on what I think is wrong with them, instead of putting my attention on all the things I love about them, I’m actually robbing myself of feeling good. So I’m becoming more Bill-like the more I worry about Bill.
*Act As If was created by Charles E. Dederich and helped me tremendously at that time.