All of the Sparkles
“You are too nice“. The first time I heard that, I couldn’t even make sense of it. What did that even mean? How could you be too nice? If someone was in need of compassion, empathy, support, or even a kind word, then by all means, why wouldn’t I bestow that kindness? How could kindness or niceness be overdone? This comment, which I heard a lot in my earlier life, kept reinforcing to me that to be called too nice implied that there is a lack of niceness in the world. This lack of niceness lit a fire under me to continue being nice.
As time went on I realized that being nice did have to be managed. My brother and I couldn’t be more different. Our views on life, spirituality, and kindness, are all very different. He used to frustrate me. He challenged my too-nice nature with words like naive and chump, and at times, exploited my kindness. In the end, while his delivery sucked, and was not well received by me, I came to understand that it did come from a place of love. He was trying to protect me from falling victim to those who would take advantage and even abuse my kindness. In doing so, he taught me the need to manage my kindness. And how I managed it was learning and remembering to also be nice to myself. This lesson kept coming back over and over. People and situations kept coming up where I would be drained. Drained because I bestowed the kindness always out. It took me a long time to catch on that without kindness inward, it was impossible to dispense kindness infinitely. Amazingly, now that I have mastered this lesson, I don’t get the comment, “you are too nice” anymore.
Now my new lesson is exploring the concept of, “you are too positive“. Again, wait what? Really? In a world where the media scares us with every disaster and unspeakable atrocities between people, you are telling me there is such a thing as being too positive?
A while back I had an interaction in a meeting when a newer colleague looked at me and said, “Do you just throw sparkles and rainbows at everything?” At first blush I was embarrassed, thankfully briefly. And then without missing a beat I responded with, “Yes, yes I do, and the results are magical”. He wasn’t being mean; he is actually a really nice person. His experience up until now was that work spaces are surrounded in cynicism and criticism, and that positive was akin to flighty. The flighty bit was easy to overcome because despite the rainbows and sparkles, I also performed. I delivered on my responsibilities and project commitments, and sometimes even over-delivered. That’s how I shut down the noise around being too positive. I get it; I can be seen as a bit of a misfit. When I worked in the IT space I was very different than the typical person on that floor. The work spaces around me were barren. Quite literally, unless a body was in the chair at the desk, you would never know it was an occupied work space. On the other hand, I had every part of the walls covered in posters, inspiring and colourful photos that I had taken, pictures of my family, and inspirational quotes, written in big loopy letters with coloured pens, plastered on top in various colours of sticky notes. At first, it was a shock to a floor of minimalists, but soon I got a following of people and this opened up a whole lot of conversations. People who wouldn’t have talked to me were actually stopping by my office to chat and to bounce around ideas. And so what started as a “unicorn lady” carnival attraction, finished by being a space where people came and left inspired — and I dare say, a little more positive.
I am now in a new company and have, in three weeks, managed to start bringing life and colour to those bare walls. I have already started to infuse positivity into my interactions with jokes, humour, and all-around upbeat attitude. Why? If I am going to spend many waking hours somewhere, I want it to be pleasant. Is that so wrong? I don’t think so.
I think the biggest misconception though about being positive is the assumption that I must never have a bad day. This is the furthest thing from the truth. If I could master the ability to avoid ever having a bad day I would bottle that up and sell the secret recipe. I do have bad days. There are days where no amount of sparkles and rainbows will cut it. There are lessons lurking all over the place on those days. I do my best, as it stands, in that moment. I come back to my breathing. I work with my energy. And I bounce back. I think the fact that I have surrounded myself in positive energy and imagery helps me bounce back faster. So I own it. I embrace it. All the sparkles and the rainbows.