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A Year of Living Positively-Day 259

We had short periods of torrential rains today, but no flash floods, thankfully. I was lucky enough to catch a break in the rain and get to campus this afternoon. I was prepared for anything, with rain cape and hiking boots, but I did not need them. Soon after I made inside a campus building, the torrential downpour resumed.

I am sitting in my office passing the time after having skipped out to the student cafeteria for some kimchi fried rice. It is a good time and place to write this blog. My class is not until eight o'clock; it is only 5:50 right now.

A topic in the vein of a positive thinking approach with a view to social change bubbled to the surface this morning, but I failed to write it down and therefore soon forgot it. Nevertheless, I thought of a suitable topic while eating dinner.

I want to explain some more about what I mean when I say social change should be incorporated into living with a positive thinking perspective. I also want to explain how I see thinking about and taking action for social change can be made a habit of life day in and day out.

People often say that they are too busy trying to get by to "get involved" yet they are nonetheless cognizant  that the constraints on their lives do not have to be; they can be changed. They often say that they have enough on their mind and on their plate already, though they may grumble about this and that and signal a desire for change.

I say we, working people, cannot afford not to get informed and involved in social change. Obviously, there are some pretty big problems in this world and a lot of suffering. We are aware about inequalities, corporate license, government decrees, and continuing tragedies and injustices that affect us all detrimentally. Who is going to do something if not ourselves? If we want to climb out of this quicksand, and alter the course of human history so as to improve the human condition, there is no choice but to take action for change.

Actually, I think that new habits can be formed and incorporated into our daily lives. It is like exercise or recycling. There is usually a lot of resistance to doing something differently, but we can change our habit so as to succeed in becoming more fit and reducing harmful waste materials. We can easily find examples of success with respect to the former activity, exercise. We can see that many cities and regions have adopted new practices, even made it a legal requirement to recycle, so that recycling is widely practiced and more and more goods today are recyclable and made with recycled materials.

I am not really recommending a radical departure from other positive thinkers. If we take the Billington book, Life is an Attitude, we can see that she leans in this direction for she stresses that aiming for solutions rather than remaining mired in problems is more positive and therefore more healthy. She also underscores community involvement, charity work or philanthropy, and volunteer service as activities that make our lives better and create a more positive society. As she explains her perspective, she recommends substituting more negative behavior with behaviors like these. She says don't worry so much about money and stuff and don't be greedy, while arguing for improved financial security as part of self-improvement. The gist of it is that helping others, understanding your social place in the community and building community relations are aspects of a philosophy that can result in an improved way of life that has consequences for everyone: self-improvement that will make you feel better and be a better person. You may enjoy the new kind of activities and associations, and find new sources of joy. You do not have to become super serious all the time, and give up laughter. On the contrary.

You can take your special skills and knowledge, and your particular interests in public affairs, and make some sort of positive contribution that gives rise to positive action for solving community problems and pushing forward progress in the humanistic sense. You can use any of a wide range of skill areas: art, technology, writing, sport, labor, craftmaking, speaking, management, leadership, and others. You can substitute some less valuable personal pastime or project or preoccupation with some activity for social change and make it part of your routine, the way you would substitute fruit for ice cream, or walking instead of watching too much TV.

With a positive outlook, you can also listen to others and give more thoughtful answers. You can spend more time talking, especially face-to-face. You can offer to share things and ideas, and coordinate efforts and work with others more towards community improvement. It takes collaboration to solve problems well and break down fears and misunderstandings within communities.

Neither Billington and company nor I have counseled readers to accept negative behavior in others. No, our view of positive thinking does not mean glossing over  problems and letting negative behaviors, behaviors that cause friction and conflict, injure others or make others uncomfortable or oppressed. In contrast, we advise breaking relations with people who are wearing or dragging you down if they do not listen to your appeals and make an effort to alter their negative behaviors. We recommend finding others who have more to offer you and society, and who consider you and others around them and endeavour to help. We think it best to associate with people who can accept criticism and acknowledge mistakes, wrongdoings, inequalities and aggression and express a desire to take action to make change happen.

More on this later. I had another disturbed sleep so I am not very alert at the moment. I need a cup of tea.

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