It is true that positivity is the elixir of our lives fraught with challenges and a plethora of odds. But what really is the essence of positivity? Well, this contemplation unlocks a veritable pandora’s box. 

A careful look at advertising and social media platforms will tell you loud and clear that ‘positivity’ like almost every other aspect of our lives has been trivialized to a fashion statement. ‘Being positive never goes out of style,’ ‘Positivity is the new rich,’ and ‘positivity is my religion’ are some trendy and now rather predictable captions that invariably accompany pictures of glitzy (often inappropriately dressed) wannabes who struggle to be heard in society and what better way than social media of course. 

No, I am not judging this fast mushrooming phenomenon for it is a personal choice (and perhaps the only available route) in terms of making a statement. However, the problem begins when impressionable young minds and also the ‘not so young minds’ start to internalize this skin deep and utterly superficial projection of positivity. Worse, these glitzy, brand embellished wannabes who are at best advertising props for a society, which is anyway getting engulfed in consumerism, are translating to role models for many. 

After all, is positivity about posting happy pictures and positive ‘self-love quotes’ on social media? Is it really all about only the ‘self’ in today’s very individual-oriented world? Or is true positivity about actions, decisions and thoughts that are etched in compassion and empathy and are rooted in a clear conscience? Though this might sound unnecessarily convoluted, it is actually very simple and matter of fact.  

For starters, we all need to understand and internalize the fact that real positivity is as much a verb as it is an adjective. A man or woman who always appears happy (enjoying life’s pleasures) but has very little or almost zero consideration for the needs of others possesses only a façade of positivity. On the contrary, someone who looks a tad pensive or even sad but quietly goes around doing little spontaneous good deeds is definitely a positive soul in the true sense of the term. 

As I see it, the ones who sometimes stop in their busy everyday tracks to do random unplanned acts of kindness are the most beautiful and positive souls. Simply put, the ones who get rattled and unsettled by the harshness of the world and try to make a tiny little difference by wiping a tear or two in people around them are the kind of positive people that our world, which is perennially contending with negativity, needs.      

Recently, I chanced upon a young hotelier who is now despairing under the weight of bank loans and looming bankruptcy. He narrated how his seemingly very positive ‘happy go lucky’ now very well-heeled close school and college friends turned their backs when he approached them for some financial aid. These were apparently the very friends that he had helped at various junctures of life in his own capacity. It is an easy guess to understand that this young man is now re-examining his definition of positive people.   

There is no denying that true positivity is also synonymous with an individual’s resolve to stay composed and focused despite all odds. And needless to say resilience in the face of adversities and the ability to overcome these odds requires oodles of self-worth. It is also a ‘no brainer’ that occasional self-indulgence and profound self-love indelibly translate to self-worth. A word of caution here – this much needed self-indulgence and self-love cannot and should not be at the cost of other people’s wellbeing. 

Here, I must say that the spiritual seekers and mystics are rendering a yeoman service by initiating conversations and encouraging self-inquiry on what really constitutes true unbridled self-love and how to experience the same. Although I am not a fan of self-help books, I must confess that to some extent such books too, are making a contribution in this regard.  

But sadly in our times, where individual goals and aspirations are often in conflict with collective wellbeing and greater social or even the immediate family’s good, ‘self-love’ often translates to blatantly insensitive actions. 

To cite an example, today a teeming number of men and women are indulging in infidelity either for social and professional opportunity or merely to satiate an unrestrained libido, completely oblivious or insensitive to the pain and damage they are inflicting on their spouses and other members of their immediate families. The problem is that often these falsely labelled acts of self-love are applauded as the hallmarks of positive people and mindlessly and perilously aped by many. 

Also interestingly, today there are actually some catchwords and popular associations through which one can scale up one’s ‘apparent’ positivity quotient. For instance, by endorsing gay rights, women’s liberalization and by being vocal on environmental issues and so on and so forth, one can definitely project a positive disposition. Yes, indeed these are worthy and appropriate causes to endorse and have views on. But do we ever really wonder or care to find out if the men and women who talk volumes about women’s liberalization actually accord dignity to their female house-helps? 

In a nutshell, to state the obvious, positivity is not about a superficial projection. Instead, genuine positivity stems from a person who thinks and feels about everything in the best interests of everyone connected to him. And in this age of instant gratification, highly individualized life choices and proliferated social media let us not get this elementary understanding wrong. Let us not merely Facebook positivity. Let us introspect, redefine and celebrate the essence of true positivity.

A freelance content writer, Proyashi has worked for 15 years in the media and communications industry of  Delhi.  She has authored The Mystic Sinners, a  rare work of fiction on mysticism and tantra. 

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