By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN
It ain’t a ball or a strike until I call it, says the umpire.
If you’re a baseball fan you are familiar with that expression. There may be plenty of fans and players who might call the pitch a ball or a strike, but the umpire gets the final say.
Did you know that you are the umpire in your own perceptions of your life with these same kinds powers? You’re making your own calls all day long. Your judgment calls declare the world to be a good or bad place, your temporary hotel room ugly or beautiful, or the President’s or Congressional decisions to be moral or immoral, right or wrong.
Just as there are players and fans at a baseball game who disagree with the umpires calls there are others in your life that may disagree with your “call.” But you still have the ability and power to make the call.
In fact, it is very difficult to STOP judging the world. Our brains are hard wired for a negative bias. This biological function enables us to quickly assess a predatory animal, a dangerous path or a poisonous food. Without this function our species would have perished a long time ago. I wouldn’t be here writing and you wouldn’t reading this blog without our valuing filters that lead to our judgements, actions, opinions and corrections.
That also means that we are not hard wired for a positive bias. We must learn and practice over and over again in order to notice and celebrate all that is good, in balance and life sustaining.
PollyAnna, the overly nice, sweet and optimistic heroine in the 1913 Eleanor Porter novel by the same name can be our teacher here. She was taught by her pastor father to always find the silver lining in every cloud. PollyAnna developed this skill so proficiently that she was able to discover what was good about receiving crutches as the charitable Christmas gift instead of the doll she was hoping for from the generous parishioners. What was good? At least she didn’t need them.
This skill is referred to as the Glad Game. And as simperingly simple and sugary sweet as you may imagine it, developing and regularly practicing the Glad Game can actually improve your Mental Health & Happiness.
Remember, what you perceive and judge as unfair, ugly, mean, or too hard can be changed by you. Look for the fair and equitable in what you are calling unfair. See if you can find the handsome or unusual in what you are declaring as ugly. Is there any justifiable or understandable aspect in what you now declare mean? Can you discover the challenge and stretch to pursuing what you called too hard?
Simply by reviewing a circumstance, action or object you can usually find the good as well as the not good. It is our brain’s hard wiring that has us rushing to the negative judgement. But with practice and effort, we can change the automatic negative call into a neutral or even positive assessment.