Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's Nice to Be Important, But it's Important to Be Nice

My high school calculus teacher (who I hated with a white-hot passion) had that saying posted on the wall of his classroom. It was written by hand on parchment-looking paper with leaves, bark, and other outdoor debris glued to it. I used to stare at it, imagining a dull rainy day at summer camp, being forced to participate in a lame indoor 'keep busy' project like braiding lanyards.

My friends and I used to repeat that saying to each other and it made us laugh every time. There's nothing wrong with the idea behind it; but I hated school, that teacher and calculus so much that the words and that freaking bark made me insane.

I used to make fun of people who have inspirational quotes on their walls, and I love the demotivation series that makes fun of corporate motivation posters. However.... as part of my ongoing battle with my "you can't write a book" demons, I have to reluctantly admit that a powerful way to defeat negative thoughts is to replace them with positive thoughts.

I tried an exercise involving writing down 5 positive things that happened each day before going to bed at night, and it was incredible how it changed my whole outlook during the day. Instead of focusing on everything that went wrong, I paid attention when something went well, keeping it in the front of my mind so I would have it ready to write down on my 5 things list.

Now I'm posting quotes on my wall from people I admire, and thoughts that I wish would stick in my brain. I'm not talking about Ned Flanders-like Polyanna sayings, or 'turn that frown upside down' crap, and there are no cuddly kittens, puppies or bark anywhere. I'm talking about straightforward words in modern fonts with clean lines. My favourite is this one that E put up in my office before it was officially my office:
"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that amateurs built the Ark. Professionals built the Titanic."

If you're looking for quotes to conquer your "you're an idiot - stop trying new things and go sit down and complain about everything that's wrong" demons, try Compendium.

For the record, I still snicker at people who have hand-written 'turn that frown upside down'-type sayings on their walls, and I can't stand receiving crappy power point presentations filled with cliches, animal pictures and typos. Don't be put off by all of the Stuart Smalley type people who preach the power of positive thinking - you can still make fun of those losers. It's not that important to be nice.


Dodi said...

I have a few reminders around me. I love Demotivators too, but had to stop adding negative energy to my life.

I have three positive reminders stuck on the edges of my extra monitor at work, two are hand written on tiny post-its (sorry).

Practice Parsimony
Integrity & Grace
Patience Persistence Perspective

It helps me remember what I'm trying to achieve. Sometimes I look for saying, but nothing resonates. I'll look at your suggested site.

Karen said...

hand-written on post-its? With that fancy computer graphics station you have??? For shame!! Go print them out on nicer paper in a sleek font immediately. sheesh.