We’ve all got buzzkills among us.
These are the people that – no matter the circumstance – cannot seem to find a positive thing to say. Ever.
If you talk about work, they’ll tell you how corrupt and broken corporate America is, how much their job sucks, how career aspirations are a waste of time because it’s all a racket and no one can really get ahead, anyway…you know the drill.
Or they’re the friend that is always talking nasty behind the backs of others, or criticizing people’s relationship choices while lamenting their own relationship status, and finding fault in everything from the newest restaurant to the show on Netflix that everyone loves.
Our families can be especially adept at pointing out all the ways our plans and dreams won’t work out, why we’re not equipped to handle whatever thing life throws at us, or how we’ve screwed up in so many ways so that we’re doomed to a life that’s sub-par compared to so many others.
Man, do these people suck.
There’s this oddly pervasive trope that you have to surround yourself with people who have different perspectives in order to make sure that you have a balanced point of view on the world.
But far too often, we misinterpret this idea and keep these Negative Neds & Nancys around as proxies for diverse perspectives, falling for the idea that we need people who “tell it like it is” or “keep it real”. But I’m going to let you in on a secret.
The people that often brag about their ability to “tell it like it is” are usually trying to package up rudeness, abrasiveness and negativity in a shiny box so they can find company in their misery and pass it off as honesty.
You do need to surround yourself with diverse voices so that you can understand perspectives other than your own. But you do not need to accept that a diverse perspective always needs to come in a box shrouded in perpetual pessimism, doubt, or cynicism.
Most of the time, I shoot for what I call pragmatic optimism. It’s not blind, naive idealism. It’s not 24/7/365 bubbly cheerleading that ignores the challenges, trials, and tribulations that we all live with, because that helps no one. We need our struggles to be seen and validated in order to move through and past them.
But in general, I tend to believe that most problems have solutions, or paths to them. That there’s more good in the world than bad. That there are upsides and downsides to everything, and our perspective and attitude about those things can really determine which of them dominate our thinking and feeling patterns.
And I most definitely believe that life is too short to sit and wallow with people who are the human versions of lead weight around your ankles while you’re trying to keep your head above water.
We’re hard enough on ourselves, most of us more so than we’d ever tolerate from anyone else. We most certainly don’t need to make room for the buzzkills and the perpetual doom-and-gloom squad when we can probably manufacture enough of that on our own in our darkest and hardest moments.
So go ahead. Unfriend, unfollow, stop answering their emails, be unavailable for plans, or – if you must be around these people because of work or family obligations – give yourself permission to keep the interactions light and gently decline the invitations to get down in the dirt and lament everything that’s wrong with everyone and everything else.
There’s a lot of possibility around us if we’re willing to keep trying to find it. So today, I’m giving you permission – and encouragement – to kick those buzzkills to the curb.
After all, you’re going to need the breathing room and the space in your head and heart for all of the ideas the world needs you to unleash. They’re full of light, full of promise, and full of potential. And they’re going to need you to believe in them.
So what are you waiting for?