Joel Osteen says, “If you don’t have something good to say….ZIP IT!” and that is good advice because have you noticed how critical we have become? It seems like we are always complaining about something and finding fault with something else…complaining, judging, evaluating and finding fault have become as commonplace as brushing our teeth. It starts first thing in the morning…the coffee line is too long, our kids are too slow, there is too much traffic, the news is all bad, people can’t drive, the weather isn’t right, etc., etc…
Consider how much energy we expend on complaining and being critical. Imagine what could happen if we turned that into a positive experience; imagine if we actually looked for the good in situations; called attention to it; acted upon it. There is good in everything but we often need to look hard to find it and sometimes we just have to trust that it is present whether we see it or not. Faith is a very powerful tool that can be used to alter even the worst of circumstances. However, like any tool it must be used often in order for us to strength it.
Criticism can also be a powerful force for change if used in the correct fashion. There is destructive criticism and there is constructive criticism.
Destructive criticism points out what is wrong with situations and people with no solution—that man is a slob, that woman is unhealthy, that building is dirty…
Constructive criticism can be used as force to correct problems and unite people for the greater good because it offers an action at the end of the complaint…that outfit doesn’t suit you, however I have one that does…there is trash everywhere so let’s pick it up…you are always late so let me buy you a new watch…
The most bothersome issue is that people fail to recognize that constant destructive criticism kills joy, good humor and hope…it causes people to despair and feel like life is just too much trouble. It can create a terrible momentum that becomes almost impossible for the target of criticism to overcome.
Think about the people in your life that are always finding fault with someone or something. How enlivening is it to be in their presence for more than 5 minutes??? The air can literally seem to become thick and foul. You may even feel as if a shadow descends upon you the longer you stay in their presence.
Criticism and cynicism shut life down instantaneously…possibility cannot exist where there is no listening for it and critical/cynical people have no field of vision for what is good or what is possible.
Critical/cynical people look through a particular filter that only allows them to see more of what they talk about and since they always talk about what doesn’t work or what is wrong, that is all they are able to see. Their blindness to the positive possibilities that abound is not only dangerous to those within their circle of influence, it is contagious!
Most of them don’t even notice what limited vision they have given themselves. They just go around believing that life sucks, people are awful, and that misery is the default setting that they must endure.
Stuck in this way of looking they will not even see a random act of kindness or goodwill…they will only continue to gather evidence that life is hard and people will hurt you.
Life is truly what you make it and we have the choice in every, single moment to interpret circumstances as good or bad. We can call to the possibility in something or we can be defeated and harmed by it, the choice is always ours.
It takes a particular kind of person to see the good and call to the positive aspects in a situation…a person like this has the ability to transform any circumstance into something beneficial. That particular kind of person is in ALL of us – we simply have to let that inner optimist emerge.
You have the power to be a person like this…it takes courage, faith and strength of character and it takes the understanding that life is far more contributed to by the ongoing choice for good. The first step to a positive approach is to simply take that first step with an attitude of opportunity and confidence that what happens next in life is something to embrace rather than fear.
**From Noelle’s book, “Practical Change…Inspiration for Kicking Ass & Slaying Dragons”