How to be impervious to the suck of people. Suggestions?
April 3, 2007 3:27 PM   Subscribe

How to be impervious to the suck of people. Suggestions?

I find myself to be a pretty joyful person. I get down like the best of 'em, and I'm not perfect, but I think overall I'm pretty optimistic, realistic, and happy. I'm finding it harder and harder to stay that way. I'm looking for suggestions on how to maintain and cultivate more of a silly, joyful attitude...especially in the face of so many people around me who tend to want to bring others down, unintentionally or not. It's getting really hard to stay realistic about the facts of life, and not become jaded.

One thing that has contributed to this increasingly cautious outlook lately are lots of stories and information I've learned about men who are unfaithful. I know women cheat too, but that doesn't necessarily effect me directly. I don't want to start a war here—I'm not attempting to make any claims about whether men cheat more than women, blah, blah, blah! I love men, and would like to eventually find one that is as awesome and joyful as I think I am. How do I keep up my trust (and not blindly so), when it turns out that ~95% of the men I know cheat? These are otherwise fantastic men (IMO). While this is bothersome, I am using this as one type of example that chips away at my happy, go-lucky attitude.

I'm getting a bit discouraged here. I'd like to hear suggestions and stories of how the hive stays happy and peaceful. How do you all just let it roll off? How do you disregard negative examples and bad behavior, and focus on/find the positive ones?

Disclaimers: I have had a lot of hardships and hurts, just like you all. IANADoctor/Lawyer. I have a healthy social network (small, but meaningful). I attend a lot of social events. I exercise regularly and eat well.I am not depressed. I'd like to keep it that way. :-)
posted by iamkimiam to Human Relations (34 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
What jamaro said, both paragraphs.
posted by languagehat at 3:46 PM on April 3, 2007

How about not being so judgmental and trusting in fundamental human goodness? Cheating is really bad, but all people make mistakes and search for redemption. Read Crime and Punishment.

A more serious problem would be if all your male friends cheat repeatedly without remorse or insight into their behavior. That's much more serious. In that case, like Jemaro says, make some different friends.
posted by footnote at 3:48 PM on April 3, 2007

Best answer: the suck of people has existed since people have. I pretend I'm in a little suck free bubble. I prank everyone especially "sucky" people. In fact I even taught my kids how to scare the crap out of people at our local haunted house-the whaley house.

I put a beta fish in our water bottle drinky thing at work. Whatever it takes to spread some sunshine and the "happy" comes right back.

I try to remember, even when some old grand-lady cuts me off on the freeway, that every human being has the capacity for fun and love.

This is something I've grappled with for years, ever since my angry teen years, and I just try to be active in cheering stuff up.
posted by snsranch at 3:49 PM on April 3, 2007 [4 favorites]

My strategy is fake it til you make it. If I'm feeling insecure, I pretend to be the most confident person in the room, and it usually turns out that most everyone else can't tell the difference. The longer you do this, the more natural it feels until finally you're doing it for real.

What I'm saying is that sometimes you really do have to make a conscience decision not to let things get you down, not matter how hard that is.
posted by Brittanie at 3:53 PM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think you've somehow managed to wind up with a statistically disproportionate number of acquaintances who are unfaithful! Most people don't cheat. If you worry too much about what people might do that will hurt you, you're going to reject people who might be wonderful, honest and faithful.
posted by tomble at 3:53 PM on April 3, 2007

Response by poster: Tomble, I really, really hope you're right! I'm trying to look at it that way! :-)
posted by iamkimiam at 4:01 PM on April 3, 2007

Best answer: 1. Remember, you may be seeing a bit of confirmation bias. People don't tend to point out when they DON'T cheat. For every kid you hear about that was abused, thousands were not - but they aren't on CNN today. I tell the story about the time we were in the car at age 5 and I threw my lil bro's toy out the window all the time, but I never mention the hundreds of times we were in the car together that I didn't. Really, the unusual events stick in our memory creating a story worth telling, and unusual events in my experience tend to be bad (another depression source for another day).

2. So, with semi-comforting logistical tools of confirmation bias et al ensconced deep within your frontal cortex, just keep telling youself "THINGS ARE NOT AS BAD AS THEY SEEM, THEY ONLY FEEL THAT WAY;"

3. Rinse, repeat as necessary; have a drink if you are legally permitted and enjoy that sort of thing (but indulge responsibly).

4. Distract brain with a healthy dose of all the normal intellectual, emotional, and otherwise cathartic pursuits you enjoy. Give yourself some time off, enjoy nice things (appreciate the little stuff, etc.), and try to think more about the meaning of life, whether your partner will cheat, switching jobs and other big decisions in another few days, but not right while you're dealing with all these stories of men cheating a lot. But there's a lot of real life in the times that DON'T make interesting stories.

I think for most people this sort of works (to some degree or other, and everyone has their own method). At times when I would feel I meet the diagnostical criteria for depression, this does not work, my brain does NOT let go of the suck, my brain becomes the suck, everything hurts, I don't want to be touched, etc. Being down, or worrying a little too much about a particular relationship stressor or something, should pass.

Also, let me add, a good 95% (maybe slight exaggeration) of emotional health is simply lying to yourself. Studies show that emotionally healthy people tend to think they are above-average good looking, intelligent, wealthy, etc. I don't think it's lying to yourself so much as just getting through it.
posted by bunnycup at 4:05 PM on April 3, 2007 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Avoid the people who bring you down; spend time with the people who don't. When you can't avoid the downers, mitigate—find ways to reduce your level of investment of energy in interactions with them. And talk to them about the stuff that you see as negative or jabby; you might be surprised at how responsive people can be to being called on their behavior.

I love men, and would like to eventually find one that is as awesome and joyful as I think I am.

Be patient. Meet people. That's pretty much all there is to it.

And, again, 95% is a nutso outlier figure. You have cheater friends. Advice: don't get into serious relationships with that crew.
posted by cortex at 4:10 PM on April 3, 2007

Response by poster: You're right...there is a confirmation bias going on. I just wrote out a list of all the men I know, and did the math. (What a creepy thing to do at work, eh?) The reality is more like: out of all the men who I feel pretty confident about whether they cheat or are faithful, the odds are 80% cheat / 20% faithful. This is why putting statistics in your AskMeFi post is bad, mkay? I feel like a judgemental jerk now. So glad I put that "I am not perfect" disclaimer at the top of my post. Whew!

The suggestions so far about how to let it roll and stay happy are great! Keep 'em comin!
posted by iamkimiam at 4:16 PM on April 3, 2007

If someone has cheated on you, ask yourself what is wrong with yourself that would motivate someone to cheat on you.

If you are completely satisfied with yourself, then fuck him. Otherwise, work harder.
posted by four panels at 4:16 PM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

If someone has cheated on you, ask yourself what is wrong with yourself that would motivate someone to cheat on you.

Yeah, I'm gonna be honest with ya, if someone cheats on me, it's automatically their fault. End of story. Fuck them immediately, not fuck them after painstaking self-analysis. If your partner is so oblivious as to not talk about their problems and instead just cheat, it's on them, not you.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 4:26 PM on April 3, 2007 [9 favorites]

Best answer: They way to stay grounded is to carry your own bit of ground with you.

Remember that every breath you take is your first breath. Your life begins with that breath.

Suffer fools gladly. Be humble and condescending and forgiving. Realize that you don't have anything on them, but that it really doesn't matter.

As for the cheats, I think maybe you need to find some new friends. Maybe it's an age thing, but I can imagine hanging out in a crowd 80% of the men were dishonest. (Maybe find some poly friends. They at least can sleep around without cheating.)
posted by alms at 4:26 PM on April 3, 2007 [3 favorites]

I came to the realisation that a lot of people have rote answers and rote opinions to everyday topics, ranging from the use of cars to fidelity and everything else. I (and fortunately my wife) have become quite adept at recognising these types of responses in conversations and just brushing them aside. I don't think I answered your question, but I hope I made you a bit more aware.
posted by furtive at 4:26 PM on April 3, 2007

keep the topic of attraction to others from becoming off limits by acknowledging and talking about it beginning early on. if your partner talks about their attraction to someone else, don't freak out! that is normal and while it is not foolproof, i think that acknowledging it as something normal that almost everyone goes through helps keep things from becoming messed up and secretive even before anything seriously wrong happens.
posted by lgyre at 4:35 PM on April 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

~95% of the men I know cheat

Emphasis on the ~

Start by not catastrophizing. Literally count up all the men you know and then put a check mark next to the cheaters. I think being accurate might increase trust for you.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:53 PM on April 3, 2007

christ I need to preview.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:54 PM on April 3, 2007

Odds are 80%? Does this mean you don't know for sure? I'd not count those you don't know about for sure.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:55 PM on April 3, 2007

Best answer: Much of the responses have revolved around the cheating question, but what struck me was:

I'm looking for suggestions on how to maintain and cultivate more of a silly, joyful attitude...especially in the face of so many people around me who tend to want to bring others down, unintentionally or not.

This may sound harsh, but my simple advice is: cut them out of your life. More specifically, engage with people who you find equally passionate and joyful. Don't spend an ounce of energy with people who are perpetually cynical, down, or negative.

I'm not talking about punishing people for having a bad day here or there, we all do, but I am suggesting that in my experience whatever I focus my energy and time on grows. So when I was spending a lot of time trying to manage people with drama in their lives, guess what? I had a lot of drama in my life. When I refused to spend time with people who brought me down, they went away (in some cases people I'd known for many years) and I found myself spending time with people who seemed to have emerged from nowhere, who shared my general glass-half-full sensibility.
posted by donovan at 5:10 PM on April 3, 2007

Look, I cheated on a girlfriend at one point. It blew up in my face, and the unpleasantness of it taught me a lot. It broke me of the habit of dating people I wasn't that into. It convinced me to quit keeping secrets from people I cared about. It got me to really consider the effects that my actions had on other people.

I could have gone on being a minor-league asshole for decades. Instead I was a major-league asshole just once, and the backlash was bad enough to knock some sense into me.

I think it's like that for a lot of guys. Hell, I think it's like that for people in general: we don't really stop to think about what we're doing until the unexamined life gets so fucking deranged that we have no choice. So if your statistic is that 80% of your friends have cheated, you should consider the possibility that many of them did it when they were young and immature, and that it may have been a learning experience for them too. Worrying that your friends fucked up a few times learning how to be good caring partners is like worrying that kids fall down a few times learning to walk.

On the other hand, if 80% of your friends are cheating right now, then everyone else is right: you need some new friends. That would depress anyone in their right mind. Ditch those assholes and move on.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:16 PM on April 3, 2007

Even 80% seems horrendously high to me. I'd be looking at what makes you "pretty confident" that said men are cheating. You really can't know for sure unless you've been told directly by one of the parties concerned (not a third party) or witnessed something very definitive, or you ARE one of the parties concerned. If it's gossip, don't be influenced. I've known people of both sexes who've been gossiped about because they were flirting, talking, ogling other women/men, hanging out with the boys or girls down the pub, going out of town on business, having close friendships with the other gender, etc. But none of those indicate cheating, and assumptions based on those things are just assumptions. People seem to like making soap-opera narratives out of other people's lives.

My own experience of cheaters is admittedly limited, but the numbers of males and females are dead even. But those numbers are a very small proportion of all the people I know. In virtually all the cases I know about, the relationship itself was seriously flawed or crumbling before the cheating actually took place. I'm inclined to say that if an "otherwise fantastic" person is cheating, there's either something wrong in the relationship or he/she isn't all that fantastic.

As for keeping yourself grounded, just figure that what other people do in their relationships doesn't directly affect you. You can control yourself; you can't control other people and their behaviour. And remember that your happiness cannot be based on other people's actions. Don't focus on other people's drama or it will suck you in. Meaningful work, hobbies, interests, make for a passionate and fulfilled person, and give you a good chance of finding others who are the same.
posted by andraste at 5:18 PM on April 3, 2007

You might write up a list of what cheating actually means to you. If a guy cheats, what does this mean? That he's a fundamentally bad person? That he's made a mistake? That he doesn't love you? That he loves you but isn't ready for commitment?

I could be totally wrong, but it seems to me that you're making the following argument: "Some guys cheat. Therefore, the world isn't a place where I can be my joyful and happy self." That seems like a big leap to me -- are there other steps in the argument?

I hope I'm not coming across as critical -- you absolutely have every right to feel how you feel about cheating. I just think it might be helpful for you to clarify, for yourself, what's going on inside your head/heart when you think about the fact that some or a lot of guys cheat. If you can clarify and articulate the links between your thoughts and your feelings of being brought down, you might have a better chance of learning how to "let it roll off."
posted by treepour at 5:22 PM on April 3, 2007

Best answer: Donovan, thank you for the honest suggestions. You have really come through on the crux of the question.

As far as the cheating thing — I am *REALLY* starting to regret ever including that part. And especially regretting trying to quantify it by a percentage. And then REALLY SUPER DUPER regretting having it be slightly off initially. I definitely didn't want it to be the focus of my question (did I mention that I wasn't perfect?). But I guess it's good too, because it's bringing to light some interesting perspectives and viewpoints on that. Thanks again!

Ironmouth—I didn't count either way those I didn't know for sure. 80% were those I knew for sure cheat. 20% were those I knew for sure didn't.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:23 PM on April 3, 2007

Well you could start by realizing that just because somebody cheats it doesn't make them an evil person. I know it's the American thing to cast cheating as this horrible, unforgivable sin against family and God but don't think this is anything more than over zealous social conditioning. If you're willing to accept that human relationships are terribly complex, constantly evolving and always unstable structures constituted by fundamentally irrational, imperfect beings who are themselves always changing... then you'll just grow out of this childish 'everybody sucks' thinking. Also, dance more.
posted by nixerman at 5:28 PM on April 3, 2007 [2 favorites]

To a remarkable extent, our attitudes are determined by the language we use to describe things. Hyperbolizing and catastrophizing -- even if you know you're not being literal -- can overwhelm a realistic assessment of the world and people around you.

For example, as others have said, unless you have surrounded yourself with a really alarming combination of sex addicts, pathological liars, sociopaths, and pimps, the vast majority of the men you know do not cheat. Obviously you have learned that some men you know cheat, and this has disappointed or unsettled you -- probably because you assumed something about their behavior, morals, etc. that the cheating now causes you to question.

Well, that's a fact of everyone's life: sometimes other people disappoint us. That's how it goes. In turn, we sometimes disappoint others (and ourselves). And they (and we) don't do so for monolithic reasons such as "All People Suck" or "Men Are Bad" or "I Am A Failure." People make mistakes, behave badly, act inconsiderately, etc. for a whole host of reasons.

So you can either extrapolate false universal statements about how All Men Cheat or Everybody Sucks from your personal experiences -- but isn't it more likely the case that good and bad qualities simply coexist in each of us? Life (and people) are more complex than this childish binary of Good OR Bad. It's rare that individuals are irredemiably and entirely bad; sure, plenty of people might regularly behave selfishly or unkindly or inconsiderately or negatively, but it doesn't mean they're actualy psychopaths. Good people can make bad decisions and mistakes, adopt negative attitudes, and behave unkindly. It doesn't mean that their essential humanity is lost.

Having said all that, I think it's also true that you can choose (and it is, to a large extent, a choice) not to be around people who behave negatively, bring people down, cause drama, etc. Plenty of people strive to behave kindly and honorably... the trick is to look for them, and to behave in the same way so that they will recognize you, too. Believe me, life gets a lot better when you do.
posted by scody at 5:32 PM on April 3, 2007 [3 favorites]

iamkimiam, I realize that you meant cheating as just one example of what's getting you down, but you may find it useful to examine your feelings about it a bit deeper.

Before I go further, please note I'm NOT going to tell you that monogamy is bad or that you just need to accept the fact that any man you're with is going to cheat on you. I don't believe either of those things; I'm 13 years into a monogamous relationship.

I've also had relationships in which I've been cheated on, and I know how horrible it feels. It's really awful. As you've noted, the worst thing about it is the breach of trust.

Ask yourself this: if you discovered that your partner stole all the money out of your joint bank account, would you feel more, less or the-same-amount betrayed as if he had an affair?

There's no right answer to this question. But it's worth mulling over, because it may help you pinpoint the locus of what's bothering you. Is it mostly about trust, and the breaches of trust you just happen to come across are affairs? Or is there something special about affairs that hurt in other significant ways besides the trust issues?

If you feel that affairs -- as opposed to general trust-breaches -- are the real issue, that's understandable. We've all grown up in semi-"Victorian" cultures, and we tend to place special emphasis on sexual matters. To many of us, sex tends to symbolize many complex things.

Yet when some guys say, "Honey, you don't understand. I love you. The affair was just about sex!", they may well be speaking the truth. I'm NOT saying you should forgive them. I'm not saying that you should do anything or not do anything. I'm just suggesting that, for yourself, you try to get clear what sex means to you and understand that it doesn't mean the same thing to all people (and that there tend to be gender differences).

I don't cheat on my wife, because I don't want to hurt her. But, sure, like Jimmy Carter, I lust in my heart. And I can tell you categorically that if I DID sleep with another woman, it WOULD "just be sex". It would not change the fact that I love my wife deeply; It would not change the fact that I'm very attracted to her. I wouldn't expect her to believe that or understand it, but regardless of her understanding, it's the truth.

Why, if I love my wife and find her sexy would I have an affair? (This is an odd paragraph, because I WOULDN'T have an affair. But I'm enough of a "typical guy" to at least understand the urge, so bear with me...) Because, like many men (and woman), I like variety. Chocolate is my favorite flavor of ice cream, and my love for it is not diminished by the fact that I occasionally crave vanilla.

I know I keep saying this, but I want to be REALLY clear that I'm NOT justifying affairs. I firmly believe that cheating is a bad thing to do -- often a terrible thing to do. But I don't think all people who cheat are bad or terrible people. Most people cheat in their hearts; some people just have really bad impulse control. I don't feel like I'm a better person than them because I don't cheat. I'd like to feel that way, but the truth is that I got lucky. I have good impulse control, so I don't have to work as hard to be faithful as some people do.

Okay, so what if the main issue is not cheating? What if it's breaches of trust? Any kind. Yes, these are the worst things that happen in relationships. And yes, they do happen, and I'm sure they happen statistically often. If you're in a relationship for, say, 30 years, there's probably a good chance that either you, your partner, or both of you will breach a trust (in some major way) at some point during those 30 years.

Is this a horrible, unbearable truth?

That depends. I don't ever want you to give up on your optimism. But you can be a realist and an optimist at the same time. And you know what, when I was in my early 20s I stole something from a store. That was a bad thing to do, but it doesn't make me a bad person. I'm not down on myself all the time because I did that. (Nor do I excuse it.) I'm not a theif. I'm a person who once stole.

You can be happy that we live in an exciting, surprising, even-changing world without denying the fact that bad things happen. And -- most important -- you can work to become the kind of strong person who survives bad patches and comes out into the light. Even better: you can work to become the kind of person who KNOWS she can survive bad patches and come out into the light.

And one of the best ways to do this is with a partner!

liquorice says, "luckily for me, I can just look to my boyfriend and realize that this is one thing he would never do." That IS lucky, but I can do better. I can look at my wife and realize that if she DOES cheat, I'll be able to forgive her, we'll move past it, and we'll work to strengthen our marriage, fixing any holes that need to be fixed.

That's not to say I won't be upset. I'll be VERY upset. But none of us can get through life without -- at some points -- being very upset. People get sick; people die; etc. Being upset (even very upset) doesn't have to mean becoming a pessimist. One's current state needn't determine one's state forever.

My advice is that you stop looking for a man who won't cheat. You don't know whether any man well cheat or not -- AND neither does the man. He can't predict what he'll do five years from now.

Instead, look for a man who cares for you deeply and sincerely wants to build AND MAINTAIN a relationship with you. Such a man may screw up (via cheating or some other breach of trust) in the future (as my you), but if you find this sort of man (and they are out there), he'll work with himself and with you on fixing the holes where the rain gets in.

No one reaches a magic time when they're IN a good relationship. Relationships are living, breathing organisms. You can and should feed them nutritious food so that they have a good chance of a healthy life. But they can become sick. And when they do, you will have to nurse them back to help. If you and your partner are willing to do this, you'll end up with a stronger relationship post-illness than the one you had before.

My belief is that a HUGE number of relationships fail because people don't understand this (I didn't for years). Their whole focus is on finding "the perfect mate," and they think once they do it will be "happily ever after." It won't. But that doesn't mean it has to be "sadly ever after", either.
posted by grumblebee at 5:32 PM on April 3, 2007 [13 favorites]

Best answer: I'm going to focus on what I read as the core of the question, not all that derail about fidelity:

I'm looking for suggestions on how to maintain and cultivate more of a silly, joyful attitude...especially in the face of so many people around me who tend to want to bring others down, unintentionally or not.

I think it's good to reflect that the overwhelmingly vast majority of people are fundamentally kind, warm, friendly, good-hearted people. It's near-impossible for this not to be true. You only need to watch parents in the park for a minute to realise that from the earliest age, our parents - or most of them - have been constantly guiding & correcting our attitudes & behaviours to make us considerate, sharing, non-violent, nice human beings, in our very core.

If you encounter people acting selfishly, or with anger, hatred, greed & so on, or "wanting to bring others down", as you say, reflect that this is not their inner nature. Maybe you've just caught them at a bad time, or maybe they've had some bad life-experiences that have warped them somewhat.

In the latter case, there may not be much you can do, but you can still try to act with kindness & compassion towards them. The worst you would need to do is simply walk away. Either way, it's really your reaction that's important, not their action.

Remain as kind & considerate in your own actions & responses as you can, and you'll find that the problems of others will cease to get at you so much. In fact, they give you an opportunity to practice equanimity & compassion, and these, in turn, can bring you to a relatively bubbly, happy state of mind.

That's all getting a bit Buddhist, so perhaps a bit of Buddhist wisdom: if faced with a rocky path, what do you do? Pave the entire thing to make it smooth? Or do you put on sandals?

You can't pave the external world, but the sandals for your mind include the compassion I was speaking of, but also a general attitude of being attentive to what is happening around you, but treating it with a bit of silly disrespect - most things, after all, are not anywhere near as important as they might seem at the time, but treating them as deadly-serious blows them out of all proportion. Joyful distance, you might call it.

On a largely different note, I find Rob Brezsny's Free Will Astrology to be pretty good for maintaining a fun, creative, positive, funny, celebratory outlook on life.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:51 PM on April 3, 2007 [4 favorites]

If you are a free spirit, then just be a free spirit. If you are happy, then be happy. Don't try to insist that other people be anything but what they are. Doing that will drag you down. It's not their job to make you happy or be what you want. Life is pretty long and any fences you try to erect, you may find yourself on the other side of them someday.
posted by DarkForest at 5:32 AM on April 4, 2007 Read Pema's commentary. Or get her 'Start Where You Are'
posted by Furious Fitness at 7:42 AM on April 4, 2007

80% were those I knew for sure cheat. 20% were those I knew for sure didn't.

That's because it is much more difficult to prove a negative, in this case that they did not cheat. To prove they did cheat is easy. But what evidence would prove to you that they didn't?

So maybe if you look at it like this (making up numbers):
80% not proven so assumed innocent
2% proved innocent
18% proved guilty

So look at the total - don't disregard the unknowns, use your positive outlook to think the best of the unknowns and look a the whole picture.
posted by buildmyworld at 9:16 AM on April 4, 2007

Try alcohol. That's what its for.
posted by tjvis at 10:57 AM on April 4, 2007

This is such a great question, and it's a shame most of the comments have been focused on the tangent of the cheating thing.

"Avoid those people" is a nice thought, but you can't cut your coworkers out of your life if you like your job. What about dealing with them?

I secretly believe they are miserable and try to act as outwardly positive as I can - that usually gets their goat. Other than that I have no idea.
posted by agregoli at 11:35 AM on April 4, 2007

Best answer: Don't just convince yourself that things are good. Look for it. See it. Note it (seriously, write it down at the end of the day, if you have to). Hoard it, surround yourself with it, and be grateful for it every day.

Don't want it. Recognize where you have it.

Notice when somebody stops to hold a door open for the person behind them. Notice all the people who drive with consideration. Notice how people respond to a genuine smile, to honesty. What you put out is usually returned. You become a good-magnet.

As for the rest: learn how to be amused at pretty much everything. Practice seeing the funny side (not in a derisive-humor way, but in a silly-humor way). It beats the hell out of railing against a very flawed humanity. Just realize that often, things are ridiculous.

I think it's easy for me to be grateful for what I have now, because it is such a stark contrast to the first twenty-some-odd years of my life. It's possibly not very inspiring to say "There are hungry people out there, and I'm eating," when you've not actually gone without food. I don't know. All I know is that I have chosen honest, genuine, generous friends and a loving and loyal husband. I know that I'm adored by my daughter and two cats (who are, by the way, totally hilarious). I'm constantly aware of our comfortable, beautiful little home, and the fact that there is food in the fridge. We're not over-endowed with money, but I think of myself as quite spoiled. Being constantly grateful for these things affects the way I look at the world. My little world is beautiful, and I am full of joy. It's as easy as that.

And this whole cheating business? Not in my group of friends.

(Sorry if some of this is a repetition of what's been said. I didn't have time to read through the entire thread.)
posted by moira at 12:05 PM on April 4, 2007 [5 favorites]

moira: what a great comment! I was specifically returning to this thread to type out exactly what you had typed, minus the family details.

There were a lot of good comments earlier about confirmation bias, in the sense of looking for examples of infidelity. I wanted to describe the positive confirmation bias just as you did: noticing when a stranger pauses for a split-second to allow somebody else through a narrow door first, drivers letting others merge into a busy lane, the tiny gestures of politeness & gratitude that accompany these acts, people smiling & exchanging brief pleasantries with waiters & shopkeepers - we are so immersed in this stuff all the time that it's just too easy to overlook. And those are just the small things, and there is so much more of this than of the negative stuff that occasionally stands out like a sore thumb.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:08 PM on April 4, 2007

Best answer: Don't just convince yourself that things are good. Look for it. See it. Note it (seriously, write it down at the end of the day, if you have to). Hoard it, surround yourself with it, and be grateful for it every day.

This reminds me of an interview I heard with Fred (Mr.) Rogers, shortly before he died. He was talking about his response to 9/11. Like most people, he was shocked and scared. Then he remembered something his mother had told him: "In a disaster, look for the helpers." He started focusing on the firefighters and EMT workers.

Yes, people can be incredibly nasty to one another. But they can also be incredibly kind, heroic and selfless. You will always see these people if you look for them. But you have to actively LOOK. The nasty people are easier to see, because nastiness is flashy. Kindness isn't. Kind people are too busy helping to show off.
posted by grumblebee at 8:22 AM on April 5, 2007 [2 favorites]

« Older Shake shake shake... Shake shake shake! Yuck.   |   Renaissance thesis? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.