role models

Even though I have only known Jennifer a couple years, I have always admired her. She is smart, happy, passionate, and kind — literally all of the time. I have never heard her say a negative word that I can remember. Most importantly, I’ve noticed that while she is aware of the flaws of her friends and acquaintances, she would just rather focus on the positive aspects of their personalities instead.

On the other hand, I see myself as relatively negative. I am aware of the positive characteristics of friends and acquaintances, but I am much more likely to notice — and more importantly, talk about — their flaws. If I find someone immature, ignorant, annoying, or rude, I am sure to let everyone know about those imperfections.

I had the opportunity to get to know Jennifer a little better last night, and of all things, I found out that she spent three years as a nun. This little tidbit of information rocked my world. While I am sure she already possessed a kind, positive, and accepting personality before her stint as a nun, I like to think that she has had extensive training in accepting the flaws in others. I would also like to think, more importantly, that she has practiced not pointing out those flaws endlessly to everyone from close friends to strangers.

But that does not mean I cannot change my attitude, as well. A lack of training should not serve as an excuse to focus on the negative, rather than the positive.

When I started the New Year, I (belatedly) added this goal to my list: Try to appreciate the good in others, rather than point out and get frustrated with their flaws. This goal was inspired by Jennifer’s attitude to others even before I knew of her service as a nun. However, the conversation we had last night reaffirms this goal in my mind. She is my role model for a positive attitude towards and about others, no matter if they are present or not.

I’m not saying that I will always have nice things to say about others. In fact, if someone outright frustrates or offends me, I will not stop myself from vocalizing those specific grievances. But I will NOT repeatedly tell my friends about how annoying / frustrating / offensive that same person is weeks or even months down the road for no better reason than their past actions. Past actions are just that: over and done with. Move on.

Instead, I will let my frustration out, and I will move on, and I will remember that on average, there is more good in a person than bad. Why not stay positive?

“If you think twice before speaking once, you will speak twice the better for it.” – William Penn


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