Dear Negative Nancy,
It should probably come as no surprise to anyone reading this that I am a generally happy person. My blog is title Spread a Little Sunshine, after all. I love joy. My default setting is “pleasant, with a touch of hopefulness.” I know not everyone can be this way. I know that some people aren’t morning people. I know that when I walk in the door at work and in my singsongy voice say “Good morning!” (or, if I’m really feeling happy, “Good morning fellow Americans!”) all you see is this:
I get it. I do. I have spent years catering to the grumpy souls because I thought that your feelings were just as valid as mine. I grew up with a big sister who was a snake (sorry Molly!) in the morning so I learned to keep my mouth shut because she didn’t deserve to have to go to battle over breakfast just because I wake up on the right side of the bed 97% of the time. But here is the thing, you negative nancy(s), and I say this in the sweetest way possible: you’re doing it wrong.
I know when you look up from your desk and you have 568 emails that are unanswered, and you got in a fight with your spouse before you left the house, and your coffee spilled on the way in, the absolute last thing it is for you is a “good morning.” I can totally see why my cheeriness can be grating. And if you want to be Rizzo and not engage in my joy, that’s fine too. But if you let me digress a bit, I think you might see why my way is better.
You see, Patty Simcox was a lot. She had way too much energy and wasn’t good at reading the people around her. If you think back to the big dance though, Rizzo, who was too cool for joy, got into a big fight with her date. So did Sandy. Actually, nobody had fun. Nobody, but Patty. Why? Because she decided to. Because she didn’t care that she wasn’t “cool,” because she chose joy. So yea, she got teased a lot, but she was the one that made lasting memories – and ones that she actually wanted to last.
While my Grease metaphor may not be your cup of tea, my point stands: it is better to live a life full of joy. I have actively tried to be grumpy. There have been days where someone has upset me and I have made up my mind that I’m going to be mad today. I have sat at my desk and thought “I will not smile when someone says hi. I’m going to let myself sink into this mood until someone asks me what is wrong!” And then you know what happens? Every time? Someone walks up to me and I can’t help but smile and then no one asks me what’s wrong.
This might sound a little sad, but something always happens when no one asks me what’s wrong. I get so focussed on the person in front of me, or the task at hand, or whatever it is, that by the time I have time to think about the fact that I was supposed to be in a bad mood, I have already come out of it. That’s not to say that there haven’t been days when I am in the depths of despair. I absolutely have! But you can’t be mad every single day. You can’t be in a bad mood every morning. If you are, you don’t have a reason to, you’re just dragging your own self down. You’re ruining your own life.
If you aren’t going to pull yourself out of your bad mood for yourself, then please do it for those around you. Put simply, your grumpiness is quite rude. I have danced around your moods for years. When I walk in and say “good morning” I now address only the people I know are “morning people.” There are people in my office that I don’t approach until 11 am because I know they’ll bite my head off and they justify it by not being a “morning person.” We have made it “okay” to be nasty every day because we have made a phrase an excuse for it. How sad is that? I actively ignore certain colleagues because I know that they’ll only hurt my feelings. And all because I said “good morning.” What a monster! To be clear, not being a “morning person” is not an excuse to pretend your mama didn’t teach you how to be polite.
The other day a newer guy in my office came up to me and said his VP told him to find the “happy bubble-gummy blonde girl” because she would know how to solve his problem. Years ago a comment like this would have hurt my feelings. Now? Now I’m analytical enough to know it was a compliment. First, I am happy, and bubble-gummy, and I am blonde! All of these things are just facts, not insults, even if he was being rude. I refuse to take it that way. Because there is another piece of that comment that is more important. He sent someone to me with no context because he knew he could. I am approachable, and he knew I wouldn’t be rude or act too busy to help this guy. I’ll take it one step further: he might have compared me to a cheerleader, but he also sent the guy to me because he knew that I would solve his problem. I may do things with a smile on my face, but I also get results. You don’t need to be a jerk to move mountains.
One of the biggest misconceptions in this world is that kindness and weakness are one in the same. It takes far more strength to be kind than it does to be rude. You know who lets their emotions get the better of them? Toddlers. Toddlers do not have the mental capacity to take into consideration someone else’s feelings and then act accordingly. You do. This is a huge gift. Why are you not taking it?
I write this letter because I want to make sure that it is put out there: just because I choose to act each day with consideration does not mean that I’m stupid. When I choose not to yell at someone in the office when they’re rude to me, when I say good morning even though you sent me to my car yesterday in tears, it is not because I’m too dumb to understand what you are doing. It is because I am stronger than you. It is because I have filled my heart with enough joy that I can protect myself against your hatred. Most importantly, it is because I choose not to be a poison in my workplace, in my home, and in my community the way that you do. You might think that you’re big and bad because you don’t laugh as much as I do, smile as much as I do. And yea, people might use words like “tough” to describe you and that might be what you want. But me? I may be a lot, but I’m also a delight (if I do say so myself).
Negative people are black holes that suck energy from others. I choose to be the sun. I will continue to shine bright light, and continue to welcome others into my warm orbit, because I have the power to do so. I simply would rather focus on kindness. I am smart enough to know that life is better this way. And whenever you choose to change your ways and say “good morning” back, I will smile, and I will not hold your past against you. After all, Patty Simcox wouldn’t.