Being the word lover I am, I, of course, did a little research on the word and its origins. To Whit:
1. explicitly stated, stipulated, or expressed: a positive acceptance of the agreement.
2. admitting of no question: positive proof.
3. stated; express; emphatic: a positive denial.
4. confident in opinion or assertion; fully assured: He is positive that he will win the contest.
5. overconfident or dogmatic: The less he knows, the more positive he gets.
6. without relation to or comparison with other things; not relative or comparative; absolute.
7. Informal. downright; out-and-out: She's a positive genius. noun
8. Photography. a positive image, as on a print or transparency.
The word itself originates with the Latin word posit or positus which means to place, put or set. Or something that is posited; an assumption; postulate.
So, to fully understand the word and its roots I went on to check out the word postulate.
as verb (used with object), postulated, postulating.
1. to ask, demand, or claim.
2. to claim or assume the existence or truth of, especially as a basis for reasoning or arguing.
3. to assume without proof, or as self-evident; take for granted.
4. Mathematics, Logic. to assume as a postulate. noun 5. something taken as self-evident or assumed without proof as a basis for reasoning.
6. Mathematics, Logic. a proposition that requires no proof, being self-evident, or that is for a specific purpose assumed true, and that is used in the proof of other propositions; axiom.
7. a fundamental principle.
8. a necessary condition; prerequisite.
Because as painful as challenges are they help us to reach a higher level of positive thinking. Challenges make us stretch our indomitable spirit.
Now, with all that being said, I believe people are simply using the word as interchangeable with being optimistic. This is, of course, a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome. They tend to also hold dear the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world or without a religious overtone, that goodness pervades reality.
Ok, enough of the English lesson. Exactly what is my point? My point is that one can be optimistic (or positive) without burying one's head in the sand. The unfortunate aspect of the 'positivity movement' is the outright denial of struggle in life.
I lost my son, my best friend, my grandmother and the job I loved all in the space of less than eighteen months. Recovery was not a matter of walking out on my patio with a cup of delicious coffee in the morning and watching the mountains remove their nightcaps of clouds as the pink and gray tendrils of dawn gave way to a pine scented invitation to live life fully and love greatly. I didn't need exhortations to find the positive in these tragedies - that would come - but in the inexpressible pain of the moment I needed to hear something more comforting than perhaps I was getting too tightly wound in the axle of negativity. Well DUH! Life had sucker punched me in the face. I wanted to hear how much it stunk, how much people cared that I was hurting, that life will throw salt in your wounds sometimes. I just wasn't ready to hear that my feelings of anger and betrayal were somehow simply the result of not looking at things in the correct way.
I have mentioned before that I suffered a great deal of abuse in my life. I have suffered rape. I have lived in my car. I have been abandoned time and again. The worst betrayal though comes in the shape of so-called friends who don't want to listen when the burden is too much to bear alone. When the bad things threaten to take away their fluffy bunny shield against real life. So they choose their self-righteous mantle of 'positivity' and banish anything that may mean they have to face reality in order to actually help someone.
I LOVE life, I love the ridiculously postcard view of the world from my office window. I love my home, my family and the life I have carved out. I have always been optimistic (would I still be here if I wasn't?). But even the definition of positive contains the contradiction of surety without proof or logic, of being dogmatic to the point of being wrong.
If you ask me being positive is not about never looking at a situation realistically. In fact, I believe it requires one to be realistic. When I look out at my mountains in the morning - sometimes it takes my breath away with the beauty and majesty of it all - and right in my backyard. Sometimes, as I watch storm clouds gathering so close I can almost touch the thunder, I feel fear and dread. Sometimes (like, say, mid-March on a grey day) it is kind of bleak and annoying. Just because I cannot always break into rapturous prose at the daily sight doesn't mean I've lost my positivity or appreciation. It means I am human - and as we humans tend to do, I look within and make the decision to mirror those mountains for the day or to defy them and feel what I really feel inside.
Every day brings challenges to those who dare/risk/push the envelope. Being the most optimistic person in the room will help you transcend them to your next level of greatness. R.Sharma
(I will, no doubt write more on this subject again. Love to hear your thoughts before then)