Irish author James Joyce once said that anything you don’t feed dies. He was talking about spirituality, but the statement applies to just about every facet of your life from your stomach to your imagination.
Positive energy is something each of us benefits from in several ways. It helps generate positive feelings within us, but it also transfers to the people we come in contact with. A smile can make a significant difference to someone who happens to need one at just the right moment. But what happens when you cultivate negativity, instead?
Appropriately used, sarcasm can be quite entertaining and revealing. But at its base, sarcasm is an expression of negativity. Even when the ultimate message is a humorous, positive reversal, the delivery of that message through sarcasm is negative. Yet some people seem to thrive on delivering a kind of satirical sarcasm. However, while these folks may be seen as clever, they are rarely perceived as happy individuals.
Negativity and pessimism are just as contagious as optimism and positive attitudes. They have a certain toxicity that becomes a shared experience. Negative people spread negativity like a disease, while positive personalities spread the warmth of optimism more like the vibrancy of good health. And really, what this is actually about is health, because few things in life make you feel better about yourself than a positive outlook. Few things make you feel less good about yourself than a negative one.
You don’t have to be arrogantly negative to spread a negative outlook. Even humor and light-hearted expressions of mock jealousy can color a situation with a darkness that partially blocks out a portion of the comedic effect. As funny as Rodney Dangerfield’s “poor me” approach was, it still left us feeling a little bit genuinely sorry for him in some way.
Being negative can devalue the spirit. It can tarnish the soul. It defeats you with your own words. Refusing to allow negativity to take hold and control you is a daily objective that can literally turn your life around, as it has done for many.
There is an old Native American tale that bears witness to this fact in an entertaining way. As the story goes, one evening an elderly, Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that constantly rages inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves fighting inside us all. One wolf is evil. It is anger, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, lies, guilt, self-pity, envy, jealousy, resentment, false pride, superiority, inferiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other wolf is good. It is joy, peace, love, truth, humility, kindness, benevolence, hope, serenity, empathy, generosity, compassion, and faith.”
The grandson thought about this for a moment and then asked his grandfather, “If it is a battle, which wolf wins?”
The wise, old, Cherokee brave replied, “The one you feed.”