Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rudeness challenge

I don't know about you, but lately I feel like I'm drowning in negativity. Most of it is coming from sites like Facebook and Twitter, where people are either full out attacking other people or issues, ranting about some "horrible" experience somewhere or typing smug, little posts oozing with holier-than-thou attitude. Some of it is coming from people in real life too, whether it's someone at work, a stranger in the car behind me or random people I come across in public places. And of course there is also quite a bit of it floating around in my own head. I cannot escape!

I came across this blog post today and found out I am not alone.
It's an easy, short read, but to summarize: people are rude. We are all rude. And something needs to be done about it. 

How many times have you heard, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all?" While it's helpful in some situations, and a lot of people would do well to follow such advice, why not go to the root of the problem and try to avoid the negative thought in the first place? Why is it so easy to be so mean? I cannot tell you how many times throughout the day the phrase "people are the worst" crosses my mind or escapes my lips. 

I have especially noticed how angry I am when I'm driving. I used to take the bus to work, where my impatience and dirty looks were reserved for loud passengers, but now that I'm driving, everyone on the road has become an enemy in my race to save maybe two minutes on my entire commute time. 

At the gym, every tiny complaint I hear and every ridiculous statement I overhear just fuel my rage toward the ignorance and selfishness abundantly flowing through our society. So does every exaggerated, biased article I read, every injustice or hardship I see or experience, every time I see basic manners being ignored or someone being ridiculed for acting or believing in something different...pretty much every unkind thing I witness makes me grumpier and, oddly enough, meaner. Apparently I just want the impossible where everyone is nice to and accepts one another, which would make it much easier for me to be nice.

I'm not naive enough to think that will ever happen. I may not have control over what other people are saying or doing, but there is plenty I can do about my own thoughts and behavior. There is no reason for me to let other people's bad attitudes or lack of self awareness bring me down. I have enough stress to deal with, and letting other people's poorly chosen negativity release methods bring me down even more is a waste of time and energy. And maybejust, maybeif I start thinking and acting in the manner I expect from others, it might start influencing them in a better way than a pessimistic or sarcastic comment would. 

This is going to be much harder than it sounds for me, as I am human and quick to judge, but here is my challenge: for every negative thought I have about a person or a situation, I have to come up with two positive (and sincere) thoughts. Every negative action warrants two positive actions. Hopefully I can train myself to stop contributing to our rudeness epidemic, and I challenge you to try it too!

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