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Try Being a Positive-holic for a Change

June 22, 2009
Windsor Beacon June 6, 2009 Making a difference: Try being a positive-holic for a change By Margo Karsten Making a difference A few years ago, I went to start my car and realized the tire was flat. So my husband, knowing I was in a hurry, said to take his truck. Realizing I’m 5-foot-4 on a good day, his truck and I barely get along. I can hardly reach the pedals. It seems overwhelming to me because it is so big and clunky. He, however, loves it. It is really old, with a few dents, but he would never dream of driving anything else. So in I literally jump and head to work. Well, knowing I was running late, I parked quickly and worked my 12 hours. When I came back to his truck to head home, there was a note tucked on the windshield. I thought to myself, “How nice, someone must have left me a nice letter.” I unfolded the note. “Next time you park this piece of (expletive) truck, I will have it towed! The curious part was the note was written on the letterhead from the hospital I worked at. I remember telling that story over and over, trying to help employees understand that no matter how people park their cars, would it ever be necessary to leave that type of note on a car? I didn’t think so. So fast-forward to last week. Once again, I’m running a bit late. I promised to stop and buy burritos for the entire facility department at the hospital. So I pick up the burritos and quickly get to the parking ramp. I park, hurry in, and off starts the day. After a long day, I walk to my car. There is a note stuck in between the windshield wiper and the windshield. My optimism is gone. This can’t be good, I think to myself. I was right. I opened the note and it reads: “Nice parking job you inconsiderate ass!” OK. Now I have had it. I look at where I parked, so the right hand side was on the parking line, but I remembered when I pulled in, no one was parked beside me. So although I could have parked totally straight, it wasn’t like I crept right along someone and trapped the driver so he or she couldn’t open their door. I tucked the note into my purse, and I start the hour drive home. I’m thinking the entire drive, who has time to write these notes? Does anyone think to leave positive notes when I park straight 98 percent of the time? Again, it certainly seems like we as a society take time to focus on the negative vs. the positive. Also, who taught these people their manners? Would you ever think to take the time to write an angry note and then place it on a car? I quickly searched the Web to get a sense of what negativity can do to a person. I found some interesting facts and information. In a recent study, about 40 percent of us blow our horn at offensive drivers, while 32 percent let loose a string of swear words. Smaller numbers wave their fist or arms (9 percent), make obscene gestures (8 percent) or call the police (5 percent). One percent of drivers actually admitted to slamming into the car in front of them in response (intentional or unintentional) to road rage. In recent health news, the Centers for Disease Control shared its findings about the harmful effects on the brain posed by chronic negativity. Research shows that people having a habitual negative disposition are at a higher risk for suffering from memory and comprehension problems later in life, including a higher incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, compared with people with a positive disposition and outlook on life. On one Web site, www.fabricator.com (the title of this Web site is interesting itself), I learned a new word, “negaholics,” and that there are three types: Internal negaholics internalize their negativity and become workaholics, control freaks or “know-it-all” experts. Their negativity often doesn’t impact others until they break down because they haven’t vented their frustrations. External negaholics display destructive behaviors, such as backstabbing, rabble rousing, and martyrdom. They want everyone to know how they feel and will spend a considerable amount of time stirring up discontent. Verbal negaholics also can be very destructive. They generate gossip, make cynical comments and state apathetic comments that can spread the negativity like wildfire. So I was thinking, what would happen if I placed “happy notes” on cars in Windsor. I also thought maybe it’s time to create a new word, “positive-holics,” people who internalize their positivity. External positive-holics display healthy behaviors, such as smiling, laughing, holding doors open for others, allowing people to pass them on the highway without honking their horns. Verbal positive-holics can be very helpful. They generate goodwill, make positive comments, and when they hear gossip, they let the person know they want to hear only good things said about people, not rumors or gossip. I think we should all try this for a week. Become a positive-holic. I’m doing it. If you park far away so others can park closer to the entrance at the grocery store, I hope you find a note from me thanking you. I also am going to pay attention to how many positive comments I make this next week. Hopefully, it will make a difference to our community, but selfishly, I know by being positive, I am lowering my risk of Alzheimer’s, and that in itself is worth being overtly positive! Have a great week. Margo. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------