Friday, May 29, 2015

Negative Nellies

We live in a society where it is increasingly normal to think and express negative thoughts. People no longer think of the glass as half full or half empty; they see the glass as having a hole in it. This negative thinking is also contagious. We too often find ourselves repeating negative things that, if we actually stop and think about them, we don't even really believe. As David Letterman used to say in the early years, " STUPID!" I read a post the other day disparaging the accomplishments of baseball player Alex Rodriguez. There were lots of statistics pointing out that A-Rod has accomplished things few other players ever have. There was also plenty of talk about his use of performance enhancing drugs. The writer then quoted several baseball "talking heads" who think Alex is a total disgrace and that his numbers should not count. All of this brought the writer to this conclusion: "Anyone who took PEDs could have done what Alex Rodriguez did. He is just a cheater." The guy is clearly a baseball fan, so he KNOWS that statement is a lie. Thousands of ballplayers took PEDs in the 80s and 90s, and most of them still hit .225 with 6 homers a year. Alex Rodriguez has been a great baseball player for a very long time. Yes, A-Rod cheated. Yes, A-Rod is a jerk. But Negative Nellies are quick to throw out the baby with bathwater- especially if they hear someone else do it first.

My son and I often discuss how many people have become retroactively negative. It makes us crazy to hear people come out of a movie talking about how wonderful it was, only to be spreading the word about how awful it was after it starts getting negative reviews from others. I heard a perfect example a few weeks ago while standing in line at a fast food place. The two men in front of me were discussing having seen the trailer for the upcoming Star Wars Episode 7. They loved what they had seen, but were nervous. This conversation ensued...
Nelly 1: I want to be excited, but I'm nervous. The first three were so great, but the prequels sucked. Episode 3 was ok, and Episode 2 had some great moments, but Episode 1 was the absolute worst.
Nelly 2: Yeah I remember when it came out, I was so excited. I saw it in theaters 4 times. But it was so bad. That Jar Jar Binks ruined everything.
Nelly 1: Seriously. It was just so boring. I mean the pod race was amazing. And the final fight. And Darth Maul was the best. But that movie really did suck. I hope Episode 7 doesn't suck that bad.

At that point I was literally laughing out loud. Could they hear what they were saying? One guy loved almost everything in it, but is sucked. The other guy paid to see it 4 times, but it sucked. Unable to control my mouth, I added "Episode 1 had one of the great movie posters of all-time." Nelly 1 responded, "Oh yeah! The Vader shadow! That was awesome!"  These guys didn't hate the movie. They had caught the Negative Nelly disease from all of the people who enjoy ripping the prequels and had jumped on the totally negative bandwagon. Listen closely to the people around you and you will hear it today. They will be saying negative things about people, institutions, art and society when they either have no clue about what they are talking about or are just repeating the complaints of others. Negative has become our default setting. Rumors have become the language of the masses. The news feeds off of this. Reality TV feeds off of this. Blogs feed off of this. We have an epidemic of Negative Nellies on our hands. And it needs to stop.

There is nothing wrong with having a negative opinion about the people and things we encounter in our lives. Just make sure those opinions are educated and that they are YOURS! Think before you speak and put down ideas, people and culture. In fact, try this today- every time you hear a negative comment- even if you agree with it- say something positive in response. Be that jerk who sees the glass half full. Be the jerk who sees the glass as having free refills! Change the course of a conversation with some positive energy. This world could use a little cockeyed optimism. Let it begin with us! Have a great weekend!

Because of Jesus,


  1. Anonymous5/29/2015

    CJ, this is so dead on. I hear it everyday around the church. So much negativity. Thanks for poking us today, my friend. It's a good post...but I won't like it tomorrow! :) ~ Chris Cooper

    1. LOL perfect Chris! And you are my favorite commenter...until someone else leaves a comment!

  2. I was having this discussion with a colleague yesterday. We all have negative tendencies, so we have to be careful who we surround ourselves with. When we allow ourselves to be wooed by the Negative Nellies, then it is easy to become one ourselves.
    I have recently retuned my ears to a positive frequency and really heard all of the negative talk around me. Wow! I don't like the person I have become. So I have set about changing that and trying to insert positivity into conversations. It is amazing the lengths that some will go to in order to remain negative. Thanks for the encouragement to continue stepping away from the negative

    1. It's so easy to become negative with all of the "noise" that surrounds us. Taking positive steps to be different is the key for me, pushing back against the negativity. So glad you found my thoughts encouraging. And thank you, Andrea, for being a positive voice in my life!


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