Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The man strode toward me this morning—one in a long string of mornings. The energy and purpose in his stride was unmistakable. I felt myself tense. He is our neighborhood connoisseur of woe, the grandfather of one of the children at the bus stop. You can accurately predict the amount or depth of his woes merely by watching him walk toward you. The worse the complaints, the more energetic the walk and the longer the stride.

With little apparent drive and motivation to his life, he does have a mission. He is on a treadmill accumulating misery at every step, and he is intent on savoring and sharing every shred of it. It seems he stores up morsels of morose news to share, delighting in disgorging a mighty torrent of wretchedness that threatens to sweep away everyone/thing in his path in an assault of negative and angry words. He refuses to be diverted—working relentlessly to maintain his wet-blanket mode.

There are so many broken people in the world, infected with dark, brooding clouds over their lives blinding them to the good around them. Negative people not only harm themselves; they harm the world. They cease to make a contribution to it. Instead of helping, they spread gloom and doom everywhere, robbing themselves and others of happiness.

A sure cure for this condition is the Appreciation Diet. Every morning, write down on paper five things you’re happy about and five things you’re grateful for. This helps you focus on the positive things in life. At the end of each day, write down five things you did well that day. This forces you to appreciate your strengths and not to be so hard on yourself.

Thornton Wilder said, “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” How true! Surely, if negativity cripples the human spirit, appreciation and gratitude give it wings.


Poetikat said...

It really is such a shame that some people thrive on their own misery, but that's not enough, they have to burden everyone else with it as well.
I am often mystified at people in my neighbourhood who can stand around gossiping and gesticulating - the frustration, anger and ill-will is apparent even at a distance. I keep well clear. I'm sure I'm considered "that strange woman who keeps herself locked up", but frankly, if the normal ones are those who only want to moan and downtrod others, I'd rather be the "weirdo".

This was a lovely post. I intend to go on the diet, starting tomorrow.


Derrick said...

Hello Peggy,

Of course, it takes an effort to be positive, especially on a daily basis, so we might be forgiven a little for sliding into despond! We need your positivity to help raise us up.

Peggy said...

Kat, your comments are always so thoughtful and insightful. It's funny, but I never picture you as "that strange woman who keeps herself locked up"! That made me laugh, but I do know what you mean. I don't want to be infected by the petty, miserable negativity either.

Derrick, thanks so much for your thoughts. It's true; it's a lot of work to stay positive in a world so broken. We can buoy each other up!

willow said...

Peggy, I loved this post! There is someone in my life who thrives on negativity and as a result, they are the most miserable person I know. It's as if they want to make everyone else just as unhappy.

I posted this quote by Melody Beattie on my sidebar. It has been such an inspiration to me.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Peggy said...

Oh, Willow, that quote is glorious! I used to run into Melody Beattie quotes all the time, but I've not seen anything by her in a long time. Thanks for mentioning this quote here. It's so true that if you're not grateful for what you have, you'll never be grateful for what you get.

Reya Mellicker said...

Poor guy. I hope you put up your shields when he approaches so that you, too, don't have to take on the dark clouds.

Fabulous post! I find gratitude practice to be the best tonic for insomnia, too. If I'm tossing and turning, I make a list in my head of all the things I'm grateful for. That list is longer than you can imagine! But I usually drift back to sleep long before I find the end of the list.

Sometimes I get depressed, too. Who doesn't? But when it becomes a habit, something is so out of balance.

Hey please let me know when you're headed to DC reyasdottir@verizon.net. Let's meet for coffee or a walk or something, please?

TheWritersPorch said...

One of my favorite books," As A Man Thinketh" By James Allen was published in 1949. Here is a verse,

"if a man hath evil thought, pain comes on him as comes the wheel behind the ox".

I stay clear of negative people both in person and via the phone!
I'm sorry they are miseriable but I don't have time to join them or listien to them!
Loved the post Peggy!

Meri Arnett-Kremian said...

Yes. A fabulous post. Especially resonant for me today, when I had lunch with my father & stepmother, my father's two sisters, and a couple of cousins. I was stuck at the end of the table with the aunties, who spent their whole time sniping at each other with venomous voices and engaging in a pissing contest over whose geriatric medical episodes were more egregious. My father, who was at the other end of the table, kept out of it and merely rolled his eyes. Apparently he learned as a child to tune them out. Egads!

p.s. my word verification word is "lioness." It makes me feel so powerful and regal!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Amen and well said!!
Those who are defiantly negative are such a mystery to me. Gratitude is the only way to live that makes any sense to me at all!

Sherri said...

There are two motivational speakers I really enjoy: Wayne Dyer and Loretta LaRoche. Dyer believes that there are many people who walk around looking for something to be offended by. And Loretta has one of the best definitions of Pessimism I have ever heard. She talks of the 3 P's of pessimism. And then goes on to talk about what it takes to be positive. Just do a search for her name on youtube.

Great post, Peggy.

Poetikat said...

Okay, I don't want to sound like "Mrs. Rochester" *ha ha*. More like (can you think of a character who keeps to herself and is selective about the company she keeps?)


Sydney said...

Hey there lady --

AS if you're not crowded with enough accolades, I gave you a blog award on today's post at my LOOKY HERE blog...
Come on by when you gat a chance.


dancing doc design said...

Wonderful concept an Appreciation Diet!

neetzy said...

Great post! I stay as far away from these people as I can. That negativity is contagious. Last year I wrote a gratitute Christmas letter. I was thankful for a lot of good things that happened. I could benefit from getting back to that.

sizzie said...

You have met an Aginer, they are a terrible beast and always in the hunt for someone to pull into their bog. I feel for the grandchild, I hope you give them an extra smile every day.