Had a good conversation with a woman today when I was shopping downtown. We know each other so it wasn’t talking to a complete stranger. We got to talking about attitude and the importance of maintaining a positive attitude throughout life. It isn’t easy. I remember visiting my dad when he was at the Vets’ Home here in Glendive. He was a pleasant man. I told him one day, “Dad, if you have some days when you don’t feel good, you don’t have to be so pleasant. The CNA’s will understand.” He said, “But it is easier to be pleasant and makes everyone around you feel better, too.” I just gave him a hug, and told him the world would be a wonderful place if we were all more like him. He wasn’t always that way. I remember a time when he really struggled with being positive. Dad knew he had a streak of the negative and it was going to take a conscious effort to become a positive person. In his later years, even with macular degeneration and other health issues he was a “Please” and “thank you” man who laughed easily. The CNA’s who took care of him said they liked to come to his room.
Both my parents were pleasant, practical people. A little like Will Rogers, they rarely met someone they didn’t like. We were taught that life was “not about me” and when we learned that, remembered it and lived it, we were always looking out for the other person and seeing their needs.
“It’s not about me”, is a philosophy that is difficult to practice. Life is difficult and complicated, one author has said. Until you recognize that fact you cannot get on with the business of living. “It’s not about me” is hard to live out when there is illness, economic disorder, death, disappointment, and all kinds of grief. Sometimes, like Job, we look to heaven and cry out, “Why me, Lord? Why all this suffering? I’m a good person.” And we mope and get depressed or at the very least we become negative and always look at the world with anger and frustration, that everyone has it so much better than I do. When will it be my turn?
Life is not easy to turn around when we let ourselves slip into this frame of mind. Life would be easier to go through if we received more support from other people, but too many of them are caught in this same circle of jealousy, selfishness and hopelessness. It seems to be a battle we must face on our own and without a doubt with the help of God. There have been hundreds of books written by people who have worked through the hurt and the anger in their own lives and then shared it with others. Years ago there was the book, “How to win friends and influence people.” It was about attitude and learning to accept yourself the way you are, recognizing what talents you have and what you don’t have and then finding your niche. Another book was, “You’re okay, I’m okay.” And there was the wall hanging, “God don’t make no junk.”
As my Dad insisted, life is so much better when we are pleasant and think about ‘the other guy’ instead of focusing on ourselves. It isn’t easy, but when we reach that perception, our journey of life is so much easier.