Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Just Say No to Negativity

My spouse, CB, and I had just finished shopping. We exited the store and heard a quick yell, screech of brakes and a “thump.” We looked up and saw a woman lying in the crosswalk. CB ran back into the store, yelled for the salesperson to call 9-11, and raced over to the woman. The driver of the truck who hit the pedestrian got out as well. I shut the truck door and helped direct traffic away from the injured woman as we waited for an ambulance to arrive.

CB is a physician, but has always been reluctant to mention it to strangers. It was one of the things I found endearing when we first met. I’m half Jewish and being a doctor is a very big deal. Why someone would have such an important career and not announce it to the world was beyond my comprehension. I come from a family who boast their accomplishments, as well as the deeds of their children and close friends. I’m a little more reserved about my own feats, but I am a PR person by trade, so I get my kicks trumpeting the feats of others.

CB, on the other hand, has always been more egalitarian. In this incidence, my spouse’s modesty was being mistaken for medical ignorance. I had taken some CPR courses with CB, but I’m by no means a medical expert. However, I like to be prepared in case of an emergency. My spouse knelt next to the woman to access her situation. The driver who hit her said we should move her off the street.

CB calmly said, “Sir, I strongly recommend against that. She could have a neck or back injury.” The guy persisted. I informed him CB was a doctor and knew what to do. The guy responded that he had worked in hospitals for many years (as if this made him more qualified than someone who had 12 years of medical education and more than 20 years of experience as a physician.) The guy persisted. This time I loudly said, “no!” He backed off and I proceeded to divert traffic while CB continued to access the situation until the paramedics arrived.

I think the woman is going to be okay, but she might not have been if CB hadn’t been there to prevent the truck driver from schlepping her from the asphalt to another location. My role in all of this was minor, but important. I didn’t try to reason with the driver. With an authoritative voice that surprised even me, I just said, “No!”

In the book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, my friend and co-author Jackie and I highlight stories of people who have overcome dramatic challenges in their lives. At the end of each chapter we also offer simple tips to erase negativity, as well as a few suggestions on how to embrace happiness.

Most of us want to blame outside influences as the source of our problems. My friend and fellow Buddhist, Ed Casper, posted the following anonymous quote on facebook from Buddhist Boot Camp.

“You’re not stuck in traffic; you ARE traffic. We blame society’ but we ARE society.”

Since all of us are members of society we need to own up to the contributions we make toward the good and evil in the world. I thought about this regarding internal negativity. We are bombarded with unpleasant news, grouchy people and sadness. However, we have the power to make positive choices. When the opportunity arises for a nasty thought, word or action, we can train ourselves to deflect it. In our book, we focus on three easy tips:

1. Recognize the problem.
2. Erase the negativity and replace it with something more empowering.
3. Smile, even if you don’t feel like it.

If you want to watch a short video about these three simple steps to happiness visit

Generally I’m an agreeable person. I don’t like to contradict others and I’m more likely to find diplomatic solutions than stir up trouble. However, there are times, such as when CB and I were trying to help the stricken pedestrian, that I had to speak up. The same is true of our own internal demons.

We have two choices. We can take the easy route and give in to the darkness of negativity, whether it is our own, or absorbing the nastiness that surrounds us. The second option is to stop negativity in its tracks.

I hope you will not use this story as an excuse to find a negative friend, co-worker, crazy driver or relative and begin anti-negativity crusade against them. Start with yourself. You are, after all, the only one whose thoughts, speech and action you can control.

Combating negativity isn’t easy. It takes consistent energy and work. We may not have the opportunity to rescue someone from a burning building, or perform medical miracles, but we have the power to erase our own negativity and embrace a happier life. And that is no small thing.

While I hope all of you who read this will buy our book and recommend it to others,
it really boils down to one thing. The next time a nasty thought, word or action tries to sneak out of your life and poison your happiness “Just Say No!”

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