“…we see things as we are…”

Link, ready for battle

I’ve had a problem for some time with folks you use social media, especially Facebook, to say things like “life is too short to be anything but happy,” and “surround yourself only with people who make you laugh.” It has been my opinion that when you advocate this, you twist a knife in the wounds of the sad, the lonely and the lost. You suck the oxygen out of their atmosphere. So I brought it up on Facebook myself.

There was some discussion. What came out of it is that, as in many things, there’s more than one point of view.

Darren Sproat:

I believe statements like that are directed at those who are feeling less than happy… a means to seek out what inspires and encourages them… to surround themselves with those who share their positivity or, as you say, use their positivity to shine a light on them. Those who are happy don’t need to be reminded how to be happy… most of the time.

When [I’m] sad, surrounding myself with those who will feed my sadness, feed my negativity, feed my self loathing, will not help. I take care of myself first (by surrounding myself with those people that bring me inspiration and hope – and that may sound selfish) but all to best prepare myself to “shine my positivity” on anyone who wants it…

I think we’re just looking at this from two different perspectives (and correct me if I’m wrong)… You, from the perspective of the happy person taking those statements to mean never share their light with those who are sad and lonely and Me, from the perspective of a sad person who needs to be reminded to surround themselves with those positive people who want to shine a light on them. 😉

Darren’s point of view is interesting: he suggests that advocating a circle of happy friends is a protective measure, much like when the airplane hits turbulence, you put on your own oxygen mask before you help the child or elderly parent sitting next to you. That’s an interesting thought, and when I’m generous I can see others thinking it. But they don’t SAY it. On Twitter they couldn’t. But on Facebook it’s a simple edit. Another good reason never to copy and paste someone else’s status word-for-word.

Gina Rowles:

Sometimes people are putting those things out there for themselves. They are trying to surround themselves with positive thoughts and images because they are the ones [who] need it.

[…] speaking from experience, when you are deep into a depression, you’re not really thinking of other people. You’re trying to climb out of a deep, dark hole as best as you can, using the tools you think might help because the alternative scares the hell out of you.

Once again, Gina hits the nail on the head – if what we’re talking about is protective measures.

But you know, “we don’t see things the way they are – we see them the way WE are.” Whether you attribute this to the Talmud (got there first) or Anais Nin (didn’t), it’s still a useful principle to remember.

My point of view has always been “when I encounter someone lost or lonely, I have a job to do.” That may come from my long-standing belief in heroes. I want to be one! (Perhaps not Link, above, however…) So I get irritated if I think someone else is ignoring these hapless others, in favor of simply advocating their own happiness first. I pray that’s not what they’re actually doing – if it’s not, understanding is just around the corner. 🙂

Dedicated to Matt “Nobius Black” Evelsizer, 1972-2011


~ by Dr. Ron Graham on August 5, 2011.

One Response to ““…we see things as we are…””

  1. Ron,
    I thoroughly enjoyed that conversation on Facebook (first in ages, I might add) and it inspired me to think about things… it inspired a couple of posts of my own which you’ll see pop up on Then Life Happens in the coming weeks.
    Thanks for facilitating such a thought-provoking discussion.

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