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Bringing the Critical Mind to Positivity

"Find The Good, and Praise It"  - Alex Haley, author of Roots 

I was listening to the inauguration ceremonies, and I heard Senator Lamar Alexander quoting Alex Haley. Talk about history in the making – an honorable rank-and-file Republican from Tennessee quoting the author of “Roots”!

According to Alexander, “Haley lived his life by these words: ‘Find the good and praise it.’

For some people, this concept seems quite simple. They see the world through rose-colored glasses, determined to find the good in any situation. They are often happy, and fulfilled. Ironically, they are also often dismissed as unrealistic “polyannas” who are not discerning in their judgment.

Others find Haley’s charge to be more of a challenge. Their analytical minds seek to understand and make sense of the puzzles of life. They see what is “wrong,” or “broken,” and may or may not judge it as “bad.” Despite their natural tendency to constantly seek improvement, they are often judged as hyper-critical.

I believe that Haley’s quote invites us to blend these two extremes, to bring our critical minds to the practice of positivity. To “find the good” requires discernment and evaluation, a perfectly reasonable challenge for an analytical mind. It begs the question, “what’s working?” instead of “what’s broken?” This can satisfy the most “left brain” among us, for solutions are every bit as evident in successes as they are in failures.

So whichever way you tend to lean, polyanna or hyper-critic, direct yourself this month to actively “find the good.” Seek it out, deliberately, with calculated zeal. When you do, praise yourself for the effort of stretching outside of your comfort zone—either because you’ve been calculated, or because you’ve searched for the positive. Then you can go ahead and celebrate the successes you’ve discovered! 

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