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Stay Positive

Marjorie Kondrack

WE ALL HAVE BAD DAYS. But for some folks, it seems every day is a bad one. No matter how good things seem to be, they’ll focus on the one bad thing. Think about the negative thoughts that you have:

  • Are they helpful?
  • Are they true?
  • Does the bad in your life outweigh the good?
  • Has negative thinking become a habit?
  • Do others really need to know about all the bad things in your life?
  • Why do others see the situation more positively and what enables them to think that way?
  • What could you do to think more positively?

These thoughts were prompted by the recent death of Charlie Munger. He and Warren Buffett were friends and partners for decades. The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Zweig wrote that Munger “possessed what philosophers call epistemic humility: a profound sense of how little anyone can know and how important it is to open and change your mind.”

In a 2019 interview with CNBCs Becky Quick, when asked about the secret to a long and happy life, Munger answered: “It’s so simple…. You don’t have a lot of envy. You don’t have a lot of resentment. You don’t overspend your income. You stay cheerful in spite of your troubles. You deal with reliable people and you do what you’re supposed to do. And all these simple rules work so well to make your life better.”

In the interview, he advocated “staying cheerful… because it’s a wise thing to do. Is that so hard? And can you be cheerful when you’re absolutely mired in deep hatred and resentment? Of course, you can’t. So why would you take it on?”

Nevertheless, many folks do take on hatred and resentment. Nothing pleases them more than bringing others down to their level. Misery, it seems, loves company.

Negative people are known for their lack of humor and morose mentality. Their mantra is that nothing is so bad that it can’t get worse. Cheerfulness is not in their mindset. At the extreme, they have an unrivaled capacity to extract unhappiness from any situation, even a cheerful one.

I’ll grant you that it’s difficult to remain cheerful in light of sickness and ongoing serious health problems. I’m no stranger to these, so all naysayers take note. Only a fool is happy all the time. That doesn’t mean we should inflict our problems and negativity on others.

We’ve all had terrible things happen to us. Is it necessary to reveal the grim details of our bad experiences to the world? Are we making a point or are we just trying to garner sympathy?

As Munger noted in his CNBC interview, people “come into this world… pre-made.” Unfortunately, you’ll seldom—and perhaps never—encounter a negative person who you can convert from bitter and mean-spirited to benevolent and generous. The upshot: We would all do well to avoid negative people.

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