Cult of the Positive
Sometimes, the Curmudgeon gets in a bad mood.
Perhaps that’s an understatement.
Often, the Curmudgeon gets in a bad mood. And to be frank, I feel perfectly entitled. There are more than enough annoyances in the world to bring out the grouch in any intelligent person who is still in possession of his powers of observation. I’m also not blessed with the happiest DNA to begin with. I’m Russian; we brood. So the occasional—or not so occasional—descent of a dark cloud over my otherwise…somewhat tolerant state of mind is to be expected.
Do I enjoy being grouchy? I do not. But I far prefer being honest about it over insisting that all is lovely and delightful. There is little that depresses me the way that falsehood does (though American cheese comes close). And if I’m already in a funk, pretending otherwise can only make things worse.
Unfortunately for people like me, there currently seems to be a nationwide obsession with forced happiness. People are being urged to constantly look at the bright side, even when life stinks, and never admit to anything other than a perpetually sunny disposition. Some even believe that they can reshape their reality by thinking happy thoughts, clicking their heels together three times, and saying “There’s no place like home.” And that’s fine for them. The trouble comes when these positiveness* addicts attempt to educate us regarding our own states of mind. They seem to regard crabbiness in others with a sort of panic, as if it might be contagious. And so, they try to fix it. “Cheer up,” they’ll say, as if we’d simply forgotten to do so, or “Think positive,” to which the grammar fans among us can only reply, “ly, dammit.”
And my question is this: Why? Why must one constantly put on a happy face for the comfort of others? I’ve earned my bad moods. I’ve earned them by enduring stupidity and faulty logic. I’ve earned them by having to mentally translate written grunts like “u” and “imo” into actual English. And I’ve earned them simply by living a certain number of years among the classless and the dull. More importantly, I don’t share the fear of bad moods that seems to be so widespread these days. Bad moods pass, as do good moods. It’s all part of the human experience on this imperfect plane, as normal and predictable as the changing of the seasons. (Remember normal and predictable changing of the seasons?) Fearing negative emotions is like fearing consonants.
But in today’s cultic atmosphere, those who are obsessed with pleasant outlooks are trying to convert the rest of us. And that’s not doing anything to improve my mood. So, like a leper, I retreat to my solitude lest I infect the perpetually upbeat with my honesty. At least here, I can be cranky in peace.
Now where did I put that borscht recipe?
* “Positiveness” is correct. “Positivity” is not a real word, regardless of what the dirty descriptivists tell you.