You know that movie where the eternal battle is always between Optimus Prime and Megatron?
Optimus Prime is the noble protagonist while Megatron is the perennial villain. With apologies to Hasbro, real life has a version of this perennial battle and it lies within each of us: Optimist Prime versus Negatron.
Optimist Prime is one who looks at life positively while the Negatron is, you guessed it, that kind of person who loves to rain on your parade, including his own.
Eleven years ago, I was living in Singapore in a flat that I shared with a group of friends.
One of them, Irvin, was a more mature guy to whom I used to yak just about anything, like how bad the food tasted or how I thought I might have the flu – again. The one thing I really liked to complain about like a broken record was how awful the publishing industry was to overlook someone like me. I graduated with a degree in history but thought I was insanely awesome for having been published in Philippine national publications even before I turned 18. Back then I thought it qualified me for the job of editor. The Singapore publishing industry obviously didn’t agree, no matter how many times I sent my portfolio and resume. On hindsight I can see why, and I don’t blame them.
Irvin and I were in the kitchen and I was yakking again when Irvin suddenly interrupted. “Can you please stop? You are so f*cking negative!” He set aside his bowl of noodles with a bang and walked out.
I was struck dumb. I sat there wondering what it was I had said to piss him off like that. No one had ever told me I was negative to my face. In the days and weeks that followed, I started to realize that he was right.
It was a bitter pill for me to swallow especially since as a kid, I had grown up with rose-colored glasses. I had a happy childhood but it wasn’t until I had fallen in love and had my heart broken in college that I began to change.
Amazing how love – or the loss of it – could have caused such an impact. Everything I did after that was a subconscious response to that particular heartache. It took me years to sort myself out but it was Irvin’s outburst that forced me to see myself as the person I had become. It also triggered me to work on getting myself back on track.
Perhaps “getting back on track” isn’t exactly correct because there was no way I could put those rose-colored glasses back on. They were forever shattered.
See, that’s the thing about rose-colored glasses. Once broken, they’re hard to put back together. It’s not impossible, but there will always be scars right where the breaks had been.
But scars are good. It means you’ve earned one more medal in the school of life. You become wiser and better.
Awareness is the key to improvement. In my case, I never would have known what my problem was if Irvin hadn’t been so frank.
So what’s so bad about being negative?
A whole lot. It prevents you from really seeing the picture from another perspective that might help you otherwise. Negativity is that driving force that makes you feel bad to your core. When you feel bad you don’t feel like taking on the world. Or when you do, it’s always from the viewpoint of a war freak. Negativity goes hand in hand with anger. With anger, God only knows just how many things can go wrong. You only need to read the news to know that’s true.
Are you a Negatron? Here are the ways you could be one:
- You constantly complain about all the things that are wrong with your life. You complain to anyone who would listen.
- It is always somebody’s fault. Your wife, your boyfriend, your boss, heck, it’s even your Uber driver’s fault that you’re having such a bad day.
- You feel the world owes you everything, that it’s everyone else’s job to make you happy.
- You gossip about other people all the time, highlighting what they did wrong to be so gossip-worthy.
- You delight in other people’s mistakes or misfortune.
- You feel as if there is nothing you can do about certain situations and act out your own helplessness in passive-aggressive ways.
If any of that sounds familiar, then it’s time to wake up. Start getting to know yourself better right now. The path is long and hard but if you can start now, the better it will be.
How do you get on the path to becoming an Optimist Prime? Here are some of the ways:
- Instead of complaining about all the things that are wrong in your life, try to actually do something about it. Nothing irks people more than someone who yaks forever but never does anything to make the situation better.
- It may be somebody else’s fault – for real – but just this once, try taking responsibility for your own day. It is your day, after all. You alone make it. You may not be able to control what happens to you but you sure as hell can control your response to the situation.
- Placing your happiness on other people is not only dangerous, it doesn’t make sense. You alone make you happy. Period. Everything and everyone else is a bonus. Learn to be happy by yourself for yourself and the rest will follow.
- Talking about other people can be fun but it also reflects the kind of person that you are, especially when it’s all just about gossip. Perhaps you’re familiar with Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote: Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. Which one would you rather be?
- Delighting in other people’s mistakes or misfortune reveals so much more about yourself than anything else. It shows pettiness, insecurity, and a pain buried so deep you can only be happy when others are experiencing pain themselves.
- No one is ever totally helpless about something. If you need proof, you only have to read about the survivors of Hitler’s concentration camps during the Holocaust. They survived only because they didn’t let their outside circumstances dictate their inner lives and their will to survive.
The path to becoming a better person is hard, but practice makes perfect. There will be days when you feel like you’ve got this positivity thing down pat. At other times, it will feel like drivel. Stupid even.
But don’t give up. Keep at it. A time will come when the things that used to annoy you no longer do; when you refuse to accept you are powerless to change things; when you turn your back on people who do not inspire nor encourage positive change; when you refuse to settle for less; when you start to accept yourself just as you are; when you start being happy on your own just because and what the hell – that’s when you know you have slowly become the person you have always wished you were.
That’s when you know Optimist Prime has won the battle this time around.
So which one are you? Optimist Prime or Negatron? I would love to hear from you. Comment down below and let me know!