Positive or Negative?

This afternoon, as a friend and I chatted in a sitting area of the retirement community, two other residents arrived and sat down near us. The lady started complaining about how unhappy she is. She doesn’t want to be here. She doesn’t like the food. Her apartment is too small. The cost is too much. Her neighbor is not friendly. She doesn’t like …

The man with her said, “You need a grateful heart.” He reiterated many of the benefits of living here: We have everything we need included in our rent, which is among the most reasonable for facilities of this type. We don’t pay extra for utilities or housekeeping or meals. The food is plentiful; liking it is a matter of preference. Some people really like it, others don’t. Most residents like some items and dislike others, but there are alternate choices if the primary meal plan isn’t to an individual’s liking.

My friend and I added more benefits. We have the opportunity to befriend and spend time with other residents. We can participate in activities ranging from church to bingo to board games. We can choose to have medical care delivered to us in our apartments. We can enjoy …

I described an experience I had not long after returning to work in my interior landscape business after my stroke. I had called on one of my clients, and when I left, I discovered the layout of the office made it impossible for me to reach the door knob to let myself out. I had to ask my client to come open the door for me. She opened and held the door, but as I came through, she nodded toward my scooter and said, “If I had to be in something like that, I would never go out in public.” I responded, “Every morning, I have to make a decision. I can choose to lie in bed all day and feel sorry for myself, or I can get up and go to work with the limitations I have. I choose to live.”

“Each of us has a similar decision to make every day,” I continued. “We can decide to be happy to have a comfortable and safe place to live, with all the services we need. We can choose to make friends and participate in activities and wear a smile instead of a frown. Our happiness does not depend on our circumstances but on our response to our circumstances.”

Nothing any of us said made any difference. The complaining lady just continued to whine and complain until my friend and I found an excuse to escape the negativity. Although I’d like to be at least friendly acquaintances, if not friends, of everyone here, I won’t waste my time listening to someone else’s constantly negative words.

Of course, we all have bad days and specific situations that frustrate us. I don’t mind occasional complaints, but I prefer to stay away from people whose complete repertoire of conversation consists of negative comments. Negativity takes away hope and joy, and I want to face every day with joy and hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13

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