I can almost hear a chorus of Pollyannas protesting that I’ve confused the lyrics. It’s ”Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative”. Except for card-carrying curmudgeons, accentuating the negative is not generally a recommended strategy for a happy life. But this seemingly mangled expression is quite intentional. Sometimes the negative is the main attraction.
These negatives are worth accentuating.
* Knowing what you don’t want makes knowing what you do want so much easier.
* Getting rid of not just the things you used to like, but the ones you’ve always disliked is a capital idea.
* Sometimes not getting what you want is a marvelous stroke of luck.
The first two are mine; the third is from the Dalai Lama. Sidling up to one so wise is rather daring, but I suspect his good humor would prevail if he happened to get wind of this. But the point is, these statements all emphasize the negative to surprisingly positive results.
Whether a car or car coat, identifying the features that you don’t want at any price (including ‘free’) can be a good way to come to a decision through the back door. Stick to your guns. If you don’t want something, remember it’s not a feature. It’s a problem. The purveyor is wrong- free will be costly.
Be brave. Can anyone truthfully say that you own nothing you’ve always disliked? If so, you should be writing a book. Getting rid of things we used to like can be hard because the item carries some happy memories. They may be old memories but at some point, the item in question mattered. But getting rid of things we’ve never liked, or maybe always hated? If you’re honest and call it by what it really is, letting go should be pretty easy. It’s not a gift. It’s not a remembrance. It’s a mistake. And cleaning up mistakes always feels good.
The Dalai Lama’s words are akin to “Be careful what you wish for. It might come true.” Who hasn’t breathed a sigh of relief or proclaimed gratitude for having “dodged a bullet” when initial disappointment becomes best thing that could have happened? Appreciate when you’ve stumbled on a marvelous stroke of luck that didn’t initially feel so marvelous.
If Pollyanna is the always sunny, optimist, her counterpart is the termagant. It’s a good word to know if you’re taking the SAT or making a wager. Our four-leaf-clover-finding daughter can attest to that. This word popped out of her mouth one Christmas Eve. All ears were cocked for the explanation. With complete confidence, she defined termagant as harsh- tempered woman- sort of the feminine equivalent of the curmudgeon, which has a more masculine feel. The hour was getting late and we’d long since abandoned Moderation and invited Excess to the Eggnog Party, so I suggested calling her high school English teacher (who fortunately was on PS Time) for corroboration. A guitar was resting on the outcome.
Guitar buying is not a traditional St. Stephen’s Day activity, but it did prove a worthy exception to the Lama's rule. Getting the guitar was a marvelous stroke of luck!