Several years ago, I lived in a vintage apartment on Milwaukee’s east side. It was a trendy and vibrant area to live in my mid-20’s. The streets were filled with over-caffeinated hipsters and seemingly cool college students. It was the place to be on a Saturday night and I was lucky to call it home.
During my time on the east side, I also worked full time for a Fortune 500 manufacturing company as their web content gal. Every morning, I walked in a sleepy daze to my parking structure across the street. On my way to the structure, there was an older homeless man that would greet me.
He was kind and almost professional. I liked to imagine that he was once a literary scholar that traveled the world. He had an educated tone and was quite pleasant.
“Good morning, miss. Looks like a great day,” he would say so matter-of-fact.
“Absolutely,” I would agree.
He wasn’t a beggar, but he was clearly without a home. I never knew his name, but decided to dub him as Henry in my brain. He looked like a Henry.
Morning after morning, I would walk to my car and exchange greetings with Henry. Sometimes I would hand him a muffin or pastry – which he would refuse. But I insisted.
Most of the time, it was just nice to see his face.
Until one morning… Henry wasn’t there.
The next day… no Henry.
It was a sorrowful loss when I didn’t get to say goodbye and never knew what happened. He was just gone.
And, to my own fault, I began to assume the worst. I assumed he overdosed or was arrested or didn’t make it through the night somehow. How terrible is that for me to think?
Let’s reflect on that for a moment though… how often do we do that with the people in our daily lives? And how fair is that? How often do we automatically just assume the worst in people, especially the ones we are closest to? Why do we do that?
Henry probably found a place to stay or was able to find a job. Why did my mind automatically assume something negative?
I think we are often “programmed” that way. We hear negative messages on the news or in the media. People around us can often be negative. We hear negative stories about the horrible things that people go through. So, we assume the worst.
It takes effort to “retrain your brain” to think more positively. Nothing good ever comes without a little bit of work.
How much more pleasant would our daily thoughts or assumptions be if we considered the positive instead of the negative? Think about that.
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