Want a tip for having a better attitude? Start with the negative. I know, it sounds weird, but give me a second and I’ll explain.
A few days ago, I decided to try my hand at a new way of writing poetry. It’s called newspaper blackout poetry, and was introduced to the world by writer/poet Austin Kleon. The idea is that you start with a newspaper article and then black out the words you don’t want as you create a poem using only the words printed in the article. Sounded like a fun, creative exercise so I thought I’d give it a shot.
I grabbed a black Sharpie and the nearest newspaper, flipped open to a random article to begin my experiment, and something very interesting happened.
The article I chose to black out was titled, “Tensions rising with Wall Street protestors,” and it was filled with scores of negative words like “showdown” and “feared” and “arrest.” Even though I didn’t know where this poem was heading, I knew I didn’t want those words in my poem, so I just started crossing them out. Suddenly all of these other, more positive words started appearing like “success” and “power” and “cheer.” The end result was a poem about individual success, waking up early for a power hour during which you connect with God’s message for you that day, and embracing personal growth.
A few days before, in a totally unrelated experience, I was asked to answer some questions in writing about what my true/goddess/spirit self does well. Part of what I wrote was that my spirit is able to find joy and happiness even amidst the horrifying realities of this world.
Back to my little poetry exercise, it was only after I had finished the newspaper blackout poem that I realized I had done exactly what I had written about the day before — finding something positive amidst the negative realities of our current world. And even more interesting was the fact that the positive words started showing up more once I had started crossing out the negative words I didn’t want in my poem.
It makes me think of that World War II era song, “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive,” lyrics by Johnny Mercer.
“You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between”
How many times do we automatically see the negative first thing? It’s pretty hard to ignore when that seems to be the spin on nearly every news story. Or when you’re trying to write your blog post and your 2-year-old poops his pants for the seventh time and you’re about ready to give up on potty training altogether. 🙂
But whenever we see these negative thoughts popping up in our brains, all we need to do is acknowledge that they are there, and that they are negative, and then cross them out of our minds. Just picture that negative word (or words) in your mind and then take the thickest, blackest imaginary Sharpie you can think of and cross that baby out! I’d be willing to bet that the more we begin to eliminate those pesky negative words in our minds, the more clearly we will be able to see the positive things that are all around us in our lives.
On that note, I’d like to leave you (and myself) with a challenge to just notice when we’re reacting negatively (in thoughts or actions) about something. Then try eliminating the negative first to see what kinds of positives start to show up.
And maybe try a newspaper blackout poem for yourself. It’s fun!