Everyone is familiar with the statement misery loves company. It's easy to complain and commiserate because finding the negative isn't overly hard. When you look around expecting people to screw you over, you'll likely spend your time stewing over how they have. It's really no mystery.
Trouble is, it's not really a great way to base a relationship. "Life sucks, so let's be friends." Taken to the extreme, when all you speak about is negative, it colors your relationship.
When searching for common ground, it's easy to find the negative. And that behavior, that bonding device, comes in many formats: finding a common enemy (ex. the government, roommates), sharing similar stories of being taken advantage of or mistreated (ex. rape, childhood trauma)... We compare war wounds, battle scares to offer proof that we've been around awhile. That we're human and have lived.
It's much harder to accentuate the positive. When you're focused on the negative, it can be difficult to even locate positive. But even though it starts off as work, happiness is in the positive.
This post started off as a way to address a friendship that I could feel being trapped in the negative. When we would get together, we'd only talk about the problems in our lives... It's funny to wrap this post up now, because I bonded with one of my best friends over the fact that 2009 was the worst year ever. From that particularly low point, we've been able to offer each other immense support and perspective for moving forward.
Sad Saucer image from Helgasm!'s Flickr feed.
Original draft date: 6/27/08