About a year ago, I cut all ties with one of my oldest and dearest friends.
As the background story is long, I'll give you the cliff notes version: she was romantically involved with a family member for many years, and left her fiance for that family member. When that relationship ended, I remained friends with her, to the disappointment of my family. She had treated her fiance poorly before finally leaving him, and in a strange twist of fate, her fiance ended up marrying another one of my family members.
In her younger days, she brought drama and strife with her everywhere she went. I, convinced that she had matured and left her trouble making ways behind her, had to constantly defend our friendship to my family, justifying it by telling everyone that she had changed.
And then she had her wedding photos developed by my family member - the one that married her ex-fiance. She knew that this person worked in the photo lab - she knew. She brought it up to me after that fact, in a way that made it clear to me that she knew and was trying to get a rise out of my family member.
Why? Because she needed drama. She thrived on making a scene, causing derision, upsetting others...in short, she hadn't changed at all. It was the final straw, and weeks before my birthday last year, I deleted her from my contacts list and uninvited her to my birthday party.
We haven't spoken since.
I had to make a similar decision yesterday after seeing a very nasty side of someone that I considered a close friend. I had to decide to end an association with a negative, over-reactive person, which would also end an association with a group of professional colleagues. Leaving the community that I loved so much gave me pause...in the end, I decided that the attitude and behavior of one rotten apple, so to speak, was negative enough to spoil the whole bunch for me.
The negative attitude and actions of others, when it doesn't have an immediate and concrete effect on yourself may not seem like such a big deal to some, but for me? It means everything. I believe that you are the company that you keep, and when you surround yourself with negativity and toxicity, it will slowly and surely bring you down.
I simply can not have poison in my life.
I live my life with a Carpe Diem attitude. Life is too short to be unhappy. Our days are too numbered to be spend them thinking negative thoughts, judging others, being critical and most importantly, being unkind.
When I am on my deathbed, do I want to look back and think of all of the trouble I caused, all of the cruel words I spoke about others, all of the tears I caused others to shed. No. No, I do not.
I want to know that I brought sunshine and happiness into the lives of others every single waking moment of my life. I know that sounds corny as hell, but it's true.
What kind of legacy are we leaving our children when we spread negativity and bitterness?
My heart goes out to people like this, people with entirely too much time on their hands and not nearly enough happiness in their hearts. Even five minutes spent judging others and tearing them down is five minutes wasted - five minutes of joy and happiness that you have robbed from yourself and the universe.
I believe in the power of being nice. I believe in spreading kindness, in filling my heart - and the world around me - with happiness.
I believe in the power of being positive, and I believe that when we wake up each morning, we have a choice to make: we can choose to be negative or we can make a conscious decision to find joy in our lives.
I choose joy every single day.
I choose to be nice. I choose to smile, to focus on the positive, and to make a positive impact on those around me. I choose to find joy in life, I choose to be happy.
Why on earth would I choose anything else? Why would you?!
If I find myself in a situation where I do not agree with something that someone has done, I address it in a positive way, try to help people understand why something is inappropriate or just plain wrong - but I do not tear people down. I do not enlist the help of others to insult and demean, I do not try to hurt others with my words or my actions. When my friend did this, it broke my heart. I was so disappointed by her so excitedly trying to hurt someone else.
What does anyone accomplish by doing this?
NOTHING. Being negative, hateful and bitter accomplishes absolutely nothing. Isn't there enough nastiness in the world already?
When I see people behaving this way, it hurts my heart. I pity them. It is one thing to feel strongly convicted of something - I do believe that if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything - but the ways I saw my former friend handling her opinion were just destructive and cruel. They accomplished nothing but spreading negativity and bitterness.
Life is too short for this bullshit. Don't waste a second on spreading negativity.
The Beatles once said that the love you take is equal to the love you make, and I believe that. What you put out into the world comes back to you tenfold. I don't know about you, but I want kindness and love to come to me...
So be nice.