A couple of years ago I attended an empowerment for women seminar that focused on teaching the power of positive thinking. I remember learning how the power of negative thoughts outweighed the power of positive thoughts and that you really had to work hard to bring positivity to the forefront of your mind. It was really challenging for me to change my way of thinking. I have a good girlfriend who is the queen of positivity and seeing the bright side of things comes very easy to her. I admire this in her, as it certainly wasn’t easy for me. I have a tendency to wallow; it’s a fairly major character flaw, one that I was hoping to change. To help get me out of my funks of negativity I would force myself to think about happy memories. Gradually I would manage to avoid wallowing altogether. You know how when you’re watching the news and they have twenty terrible stories and one warm and fuzzy story? Well the goal in all of this was to make the warm fuzzy story my focus, which as you can imagine with the torrent of negativity, isn’t easy.
One of the memories that I would use to replace the cringe-worthy ones from my formative years was of one when people truly surprised me. Aren’t those the best kind of stories, the kind where the people who you have a somewhat terrible view of are redeemed, even if it’s just for a moment?
I was in grade eight gym class and we were practicing our track and field skills, more specifically the high jump. Now there’s something you should know about me first, no one, at any point in my life would describe me as athletic. I enjoyed sports and liked playing but I was usually picked last and was never all that good. I think I still have nightmares about people fighting over whose team I had to be on because no one wanted me. As you can imagine with that sort of reputation with regards to my athletics, gym class was usually full of much misery. So back to the high jump, everyone was taking their turns running and sailing over the bar, well everyone except me. It was nearing the end of class and I still hadn’t managed to make it over the bar even on its lowest setting but I was bound and determined to do so. The other kids were all standing at the other end of the gym impatiently waiting for me to finish. I don’t remember how many tries I had but I do remember my teacher saying this was my last one. I remember running just as fast as I could, pushing my body up in the air just as high as I could and I managed to make it over with about a millimetre to spare. I shocked myself! I had done it! I must have shocked everyone else too because the other kids in class actually cheered for me. These kids that didn’t particularly like me and generally treated me horribly were all smiling and patting me on the back. I had surprised them and they had in return surprised me. At times when the world is feeling extra bleak and I’m struggling to stay positive, I remind myself with this story that even horrible people are capable of kindness sometimes. Even if you have to surprise it out of them.