Columns, Opinion

That’s Right, Sir: Don’t let anyone stop you from dancing in a juice bar

I once met a professional glass blower with an incredibly positive attitude. He was so excited about his job and was showing all the visitors in the store how he makes glass roses for his mom and girlfriend. That’s all I know about him. Well, he also had a huge “Reading is Sexy” sticker on his water bottle. I met this man for three minutes and found out that he was upbeat and positive about everything. And from my three-minute encounter with him — a glass blower with a passion for reading — I could tell he doesn’t let other people drive his thoughts or actions. He doesn’t let negativity drag him down or make him feel inferior. He makes glass roses for his mom and his girlfriend, and he wouldn’t change a thing about it.

There’s something really amazing about being proactive for your own happiness. It’s not always easy to do. There’s a lot of negativity in the world — a lot of judgement and cruelty and selfishness. We get caught up in it. We get consumed by the fear of it. We worry about what others think about us, what we do and how we look. Often, we change our behavior to avoid judgement by others. Sometimes, we even act in ways we wouldn’t normally act and say things we wouldn’t normally say. And the times that people are acting strangely or not talking to us or looking at us in a certain way, our mind immediately tells us: we must have done something wrong.

Often, however, our assumption that others are judging us or intentionally acting cold and distant is a result of being overly self-conscious. Because we spend so much time worrying about how we come across, we assume that the negativity of those around us is somehow related to us. As a result, we might misinterpret tiredness to mean anger or unhappiness to mean disappointment. Maybe someone is curt or rude, and so you automatically assume they don’t want to be associated with you.

However, negativity is often not personal. Everyone gets angry, annoyed and upset. Everyone has moments where they want nothing more than to be alone. That is completely understandable. But when someone else’s negative attitude is used to intentionally make others feel powerless or insignificant, it becomes a problem. It creates a cycle of helplessness that only fuels the desire to be admired by others. We let them dictate our thoughts, going over the situation again and again, wondering what we could have done to change their response.

At some point, you have to recognize that being kind and doing what makes you feel confident and happy — no matter what — is the best thing you can do for yourself. And sometimes that means letting go of the people who judge your every move or strip you of control and individuality.

I met another random man in a juice bar, once. It was early in the morning, and he was the only other person in there. I was tired, annoyed and not interested in going on some college tour. But this man, who was carrying a briefcase and dressed for work, just started singing and dancing in the middle of the quiet juice place. He said he was excited about life — so why not dance? He certainly didn’t care that someone else was going to look at him weirdly. His positive attitude, combined with a beautiful carelessness about how others might view him, allowed him to dance, in the morning, before work, while waiting on vegetable juice. That’s the kind of gratitude we can all learn from. Maybe then we’ll start seeing more “Taking Control of Your Happiness and Not Letting Others Manipulate You is Sexy” stickers on water bottles.

It could happen.

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