The Shadow of Positivity: Embracing Both Light and Darkness

The Shadow of Positivity: Embracing Both Light and Darkness

I think there's this misconception about being positive. I think oftentimes based on, I don't know, the Instagram quotes or social media, society has made us believe that if you're just positive, then everything's all good. And it's simply not the truth.

I don't want to sit here and say you shouldn't be positive. I'm obviously an optimist. I'm a big believer in that. But I would be doing you a disservice if I didn't discuss the shadow of positivity.

Have you ever thought about, or have you ever been on a porch at night around someone with a bug light? I have a friend that lives in the country, and they have one of those bug lights, right? This bright neon-looking, blacklight-looking light. When you sit around it, it lights up the night, but at the same time, it's a bug zapper. So when bugs get near it, they’re gone. The same thing that lights everybody else is the same thing that attracts what we consider evil. We don't like the bugs and things like that.

That's true in bug zappers, but that's infinitely more true in life. The one thing that I've learned is the more optimistic you are, the more positive you are, the more light you try to shine in life. You have to understand in the shadow of positivity that you're going to attract the bugs too. You're going to attract the naysayers, the negativity, the doubters. And the reason for that is everybody likes the light. People might not admit it, but in life, everybody likes what you have.

When you have optimism about you, everybody likes it when you have a plan, when you're moving forward, when you know the direction you want in life, when you're confident in who you are. Everybody wants it. They either want it because they envy it, they want it because they're jealous of it, or they want it because they don't want you to have it because they can't have it. But in any scenario, they are attracted to it.

When you choose a life of optimism, you have to accept the fact that that's just a fundamental truth. You're going to attract both sides of the fence.

I get people coming up to me saying, "Hey, I want to get into speaking. I saw you talk at this or that, and I have a story to tell." And I say, "Yeah, I bet you absolutely do." They start talking about the spotlights and how cool that is. And I say, "Well, you need to understand, a lot of times people think being on stage just puts you in a spotlight and people are looking at you. But really what a spotlight does is magnify your flaws." Any mistake you make, any error, it's there for the world to see.

Along the lines of putting out light and being a light, you have to understand, when you sign up to try to be a leader, when you sign up to try to put yourself out there, when you sign up to take your life to the next level, you are going to attract a little bit of everything.

Positivity doesn't always mean that it's happy-go-lucky. And again, this is not a doomsday type podcast, but I think we have to have an authentic understanding of what it means to be positive.

I hate this modern theology of just willing it into existence, just being positive, because that doesn't make things go away. The most positive people in the world aren't those that, just because they're positive, they don't have as many problems. It's that the optimism in life helps you realize that you're going to get through them.

So many people want to be positive, but they try the positive stuff, they try the self-talk, they try the affirmations, and it doesn't work for them. They say, "My life is still in shambles." I say, "Well, see, you're missing the point here." The point wasn't that you're going to avoid shambles and you're going to avoid downfalls and adversities. The point is, with a true optimistic life, with true positive thinking, you're going to say, "Okay, I understand that this adversity is here. I understand there will always be adversities here, but I also understand I am having an outlook that is going to allow me to get through them or around them in a more fulfilled manner, one that doesn't destroy me or perhaps avoid them in the future."

That's why it's so important to be positive. It's not just so you can walk around singing la-di-da-di-da all day. It's so you can look at any situation you face and say, "Look, I understand this is the situation, but I understand that I will have an outcome." And I understand that because I have poured into myself, I have worked on myself, I have developed myself. So I'm far more equipped to handle whatever it is that I have to face. That is the point of being optimistic, and that's the point of why you should be.

We have to understand that you owe it to everyone in your life to shine bright. You owe it to everyone in your life, including yourself first. So often we put ourselves last. And I think that's another thing. We feel like if you're positive, you have to put yourself last. No. You can be positive and still believe in yourself. You can be positive and still want the best for yourself. Because you want to be able to be the brightest light for everybody else, you have to focus on yourself sometimes. And I say this all the time: the most selfless thing you can do sometimes is to be selfish.

Spend some time today asking yourself, how can I turn this light up? Because the path that you're laying for others, you might be going down a path that nobody's been down. You might be the first in your family to go to college, the first in your family to experience what you've experienced, the first person in your friend group, you might be the first to do something. So you owe it to those behind you to light a path so that they're not walking through the darkness that you had to walk through.

Some of the proudest things I can do and I can give advice to people on this career path is, man, nobody told me how to do it. I'm happy that I can tell you how to do it. If you think about the things that you've had in life where you struggled, do you really wish that on anybody else? By shining light, by having this optimistic attitude, by deciding to be a light, you can make it so that others don't have to do what you did.

One thing I've realized and one thing I've learned more than anything is you don't have to start weeding people out of your life. If you are positive enough and you shine enough light, the wrong people for you will distance themselves because the light starts to bother them. Whether it's the bug zapper deal where they can't handle it for whatever reason, I've learned in life that people, if you just shine bright enough and you just shine bright and consistent enough, the wrong people in your life hate the light that you shine and will remove themselves. So you don't have to worry about that. That's the point of being optimistic. You can focus on the positive. You can focus on moving forward. Everybody else can just focus on you.

Have a great day.

Check out Shark Theory Apparel, books, and the Shark Theory podcast. For speaking engagements, visit Book Baylor Barbee.

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