Remember to Smile

by Natalie Grigson on April 22, 2013

It is Tuesday morning as I write this. Outside the weather is warm and sun streams in through the open screen door, illuminating little rivers of dust in between tiles. The birds are calling loudly back and forth to each other; I hear some squirrels scuffling around loudly on the roof—it sounds like they’re rearranging furniture.

On this beautiful day, Nature has no idea that something tragic happened yesterday. On this beautiful day, I can almost forget.

But then I do something stupid. I turn on my computer.

And I am simply swarmed with the news of what happened in Boston yesterday.

It’s everywhere I look. It is on the homepage of every search engine. It pops up when I open my email. And splashed all over, so reminiscent of the scene they describe, are my friend’s Facebook updates. They ask what is wrong with the world we live in. Who would do something like that? Many don’t even ask, they point fingers. They say they know what’s wrong here; who is to blame.

Reading this, seeing the photos over and over, hearing the reports—I want to scream!

So naturally I decided to watch this:

I am aware that I might get some flak for what I am about to suggest to you—there’s a little button at the bottom of this page, “Send us your feedback.” Push it if you’d like.

But my thought is this: It doesn’t do anyone—not you, not the families of those who were harmed, not the people who were harmed—it doesn’t help to be enraged. It doesn’t help to point fingers. And it doesn’t help to keep focusing on the negative.

I remember once making a Vision Board for a project at work. I’ll tell you right now—it was beautiful. It was covered in pictures of books, travel, meditation, and right in the middle, a big, red stop sign that read “Stop Negativity.” I thought this would be a great reminder during the day when I was feeling overwhelmed or overworked. Stop negativity.

But when my boss saw it, he had a… different opinion.

“You need to take that sign off, or you’re just going to keep attracting negativity.” At the time, I was confused by his reaction—I wanted to stop negativity. Also, I had worked for hours on the board and I was well sick of it. So for the next few days I left the big red sign as it was, a big, fat reminder to stop negativity.

For a few minutes every day I would look up at my beautiful vision board—my eyes would move from the photos of exotic places, to the home I’d live in someday, to the people I’d help, to… the sign. Every time my eyes came to the sign they’d pause. Sure, it said stop negativity—but all they saw was NEGATIVITY.

That’s because even with that little word “stop,” the focus is still “negativity.”

Or as Eckhart Tolle puts it in his book A New Earth, “what you resist, persists.” That’s why war is bound to fail. The war on drugs, the war on terrorism, the war on cancer—these are all noble causes, sure, but the focus is still placed on the problem itself.

I know things like yesterday are upsetting—devastating, but you will never save one person from violence by thinking violent thoughts yourself. You will never save one family from grief by grieving in your own life. Focus on what you want to bring about—not what you don’t want. Do you think it a coincidence that today, with more social media, more 24/7 news coverage, and more communication in general that more tragic events seem to happen? The more we focus on the “bad,” the more “bad” we bring.

So I ask you, please, focus on what the world could look like. Focus on sending love to the families in instances like this—not hate to those who caused it. Focus, now more than ever, on peace, on laughter, on the positive things that, yes, are still plentiful in this beautiful world. Focus on the birds, the sunshine, and the people around you.

Post that on your Facebook walls.

And if you, dear reader, seem to be stuck in a hole so deep that you can’t see the way out—well, that’s I’ve posted these pictures. In the face of tragedy, remember to smile.

“I will never attend an anti-war rally; if you have a peace rally, invite me.” – Mother Teresa

As always, reader, I’d love to hear your feedback. “Send Us Feedback” below and let me know—how are you focusing on the positive in the world today?

Photos Courtesy of: Soggydan, kevincole, Kjunstorm, juhansonin

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