I love Labs. Who doesn’t? A Labrador is one of the happiest, most companionable dogs on the planet. I’ve had a few Labs in my life and one characteristic they shared was that they loved the water with wild abandon.
I don’t share that love at all, in fact I’m water phobic.
Not to worry, I handle baths okay, but other than that, I have strict water rules. No lakes, rivers, or oceans (too many unknowns and variables). Some pools are okay depending on their cling-able edge to middle abyss ratio. I also fret about the areas surrounding the pool. Too much furniture/cement and not enough lawn leads to danger. At parties, there’s potential for over-crowding and accidental bumpings. Just too risky.
Many years ago, I frequented a family home with a pool and built-up a comfort level. I even paddled around a few times. My Lab didn’t share my hesitation. If the door wasn’t opened fast enough, she’d go right through the screen to leap into the pool, fur flying and tongue hanging out.
With her stamina and the love of water, she’d be a perfect lifeguard, right? Wrong!
She was fine swimming alone, but not with anyone else. She jumped in after me once and nearly killed me. She barked, whined, and clawed at me forcing me underwater over and over. I tried to get her to stop pawing at me, but it was hard to yell and gasp for air at the same time. Fortunately, I finagled my freedom and climbed to the safety of the pool deck.
I’ve seen the same weird phenomenon happen in chronic illness support groups and on social networking pages. One person says, “Hey, things are going well for me.” Then another feels compelled to reply that things are not great, and then more chime in. A virtual dog pile of negativity with no lifeguard in site.
In an attempt to “look” supportive, they’re not really supportive at all.
It’s a curious occurrence that comments are sometimes more negative than positive. Maybe people don’t think to say something positive? Or maybe negative comments feel more important or necessary under the guise of being constructive?
In any case, I’d like you to consider making an effort to brighten someone’s day today. Consciously choose to think positively, to speak positively.
Lift up a hurting friend and say something helpful. Write a positive message on your favorite social networking site. Write a supportive blogpost comment. Send a positive email.
Even a sticky note will do.
If you haven’t done so already, view Lisa’s video for her “Each One Can Reach One” Campaign for the upcoming Invisible Illness week 2010: http://invisibleillnessweek.com/
When it comes to choosing negative or positive things to say, the health benefits of positive comments wins every time. It’s more than a positive attitude. It’s choosing a positive way of life — choosing to encourage rather than discourage.
In a weird way, I think my Lab was trying to encourage me in the swimming pool. I think paddling over and around me was how she demonstrated her concern for my safety. I could have done with a little less concern.
Have you ever witnessed a dog pile of negativity? Maybe you’ve even wondered if you should have done something. Here’s your opportunity to remedy that. DO something today. Play “lifeguard” in your relationships with others, and make a lasting, positive impression.