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letting the good stuff stick…



I was thinking the other day about how I let things get to me—the stuff that doesn't work out like I planned, unkind critiques, or any kind of general negativity (the person who was rude on the subway, the girl behind the register who had a bad day and took it out on her customers). I tend to let myself focus on that. I zero in on the small percentage of people or experiences out there that have put a dent in my day.

But instead, I think we (myself included) should remember the positive. Remember the guy at Starbucks who gave you a dollar because you didn't quite have enough change for your morning coffee, or the lady on the the highway you let you into the insane merge lane during rush hour traffic. Remember the incredible goal you accomplished, the dream gig you just got, or the person who took the time to write you a letter saying how much your work inspired her during a sad time in her life.

I am terrible at letting the good stuff stick. But maybe we can all help each other out a little and remember the good times, the best moments, the nice people, and the kindnesses that do come our way…

{Photo by Thayer Allyson Gowdy}


  1. Joy, this is such a lovely post. Aren’t we all like this. we let the negativities get to us and bother us. A great way to look at the positive things in our life and stay happy is by being grateful. I like to remind myself each day of what I am grateful for and that helps me stay connected with myself and look at the positives 🙂
    Thank you for sharing such a meaningful post with us. Hope you find what works for you 🙂

  2. I think we all feel this way at some point. It’s so easy to stray away get stuck on things that aren’t that important. It’s great reflecting on the positive, because thinking positive leads to great things. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I really needed to hear this! I get stressed out easily and when I don’t feel like I’m performing my best, I get so bogged down by my deficiencies or my shortcomings. Today I’m going to start making a list of all the blessings and answered prayers so that I will constantly be thankful for the gifts in my life. I think our focus should be on what is good, cus God is good and He has amazing things planned out for our lives.

  4. Thanks for this. I have the same problem but not only do I let it stick, I really take it personally. That woman at the cash register may be having a bad day but she really doesn’t like ME. This is just what I needed on the first morning after a four-day weekend!

  5. This is so true, it must be part of human nature because we all do it. Is it because by remembering bad stuff we subconsciously try to improve our own behaviour? Or are we just better at being negative than positive? Who knows! It’s funny you wrote this today because I’m chosen ‘positivity’ as my word for 2013 and wrote a blog post about it today too (it’s at if you want to take a look). Oh and I’ve just finished reading Blog Inc which has made me feel HUGELY positive about working on my blog, I’ve even started a blogging schedule!
    Thanks and have a splendidly positive rest of your day, Gabrielle x

  6. I really appreciate this! I sometimes let myself dwell on the rotten moments of the day rather than all the good that is happening in my life. It is silly because when I reall ponder on it, the good more than makes up for the bad. You said it well. I always love how uplifting you are!

  7. Agreed, it can be so difficult. I try to remember that most of those unpleasant interactions have little to nothing to do with me – we never know what someone else is going through. That, as well as trying to make sure that I’m nice to people (the only thing we can control really), has seemed to help. What a great discussion topic.

  8. A number of months ago I commented about your choice of sleep methods and it causing anxiety in children. I am sorry for that. Everyone has their own method of raising their children. There really is no right answer for anything when if comes to life. One day I read an an article that a little bit of wine each night it good for you and the next day something that says a small amount each day can cause cancer. It really is about following your heart and doing what you believe in. I try not to judge my friends and family and I have no place judging strangers.
    That was tactless of me, and I apologize if I cause you any hurt.

  9. This is probably the most inspiring post I’ve read in a while. I tend to hold to negative stuff so much, and I feel so better now than I know I’m not alone. I feel relieve. &I feel that you are so right about focusing on positive. Thank you so much xx

  10. I smell a challenge…To count all the random acts of kindness one encounters in a day. Perspective is paramount to swimming in the happy.

  11. This reminds me of what Stefan Sagmeister said during his keynote speech at Alt about how we have a negativity bias. I think about that all the time, and try to shift my focus onto the generosity and kindness that’s all around me. But you’re right; it’s hard! Starting a gratitude journal has been really helpful. I don’t write much, just three sentences each day about the good things that have happened that day. And there’s always a good thing, even if it’s miniscule.

  12. Hi Dara,
    No worries! But thank you for your note. Like you said, we all have different methods of raising our children and as long as our children are loved and cared for, different things work for different families. Luckily, whatever we did worked great for Ruby as she sleeps 12 hours straight through the night and is a very happy little girl.
    Best to you!

  13. I love this perspective and try to focus my energy on noticing and being grateful for the positive. It is great to be reminded of this, especially today…thank you!

  14. Ugh, yes. I’m just the worst at this. But think how great it was that you posted this today, and now everyone who reads it will be biased toward the good in their lives today. What a multiplier effect! 🙂

  15. One really easy way to let the good stuff stick is to file it away for a rainy day. I just took a troll through my “nice people” folder in my e-mail and it always makes me smile! Those little notes about a job well done, or pictures from good times with friends, or just thoughts I want to remember, all end up in that folder. As a result, it’s a wonderful reminder of all the great people and moments I’m surrounded with!

  16. Hard to do, but so beneficial. My husband and I started keeping “gratitude lists” before bed each night. We both journal 5 things that we are grateful for that day aside from the usual stuff (each other, our child, our home, etc). We started doing it when I was having trouble sleeping and it completely cured my insomnia. Now, I look forward to it and notice the little things throughout my day that are going well. It’s easy to focus on the negative but this has really helped put things in perspective for me. I’ve come to realize there are many wonderful things about each and every day!

  17. i’m the same and need to do the same! i’m still bothered by that car incident that happened 2 weeks ago!! anyways, for you, any negativity is a reminder of how successful you’ve been/are! miss you guys and hope you’re having a great trip!!

  18. Oh man, this literally hit the sweet spot today. Especially after letting something small get to me this weekend, I’ve been really frustrated that I let the little things get to me. Refocusing on the best in life is ALWAYS a good idea… who needs extra outside negativity, anyways?? Thanks for the great post! 🙂

  19. I once saw a quote someone pinned on Pinterest that said ” Ask yourself this question: Will this matter a year from now” i try to do that after I get worked up about something small. I’m not even going to remember this happened in a week. I should just let it go.

  20. I can so relate to this post. I tend to dwell on the small negative things when there are so many beautiful, positive things in my life. Thanks for the perspective today! A little reminder we all need from time to time.

  21. This reminds me of that commercial where people paid good deeds forward: people seeing other people hold open doors, help walking someone across the street, simply smiling and saying hello, etc and that would motivate them to do something kind for the next stranger they met. I would like to think we can all do a little something to make someone’s day a bit happier. Great post and thanks for that reminder, Joy. I also must thank you for all the foodie places you recommend. My friends and I have tried a few of them and they have all been big hits.

  22. It’s a relief to know that I’m not the only one who has this habit. I’ve become more and more anxious over the years, and the smallest things can really bug me. I’m currently hunting for a job and that’s really been a true test of my optimism. Like you said, we always have to focus on the good and surround ourselves with the people and the things we love. Thanks so much for this post, Joy.

  23. I know exactly what you are talking about …I strive to be more positive each and every day. I meditate every evening so I end the day in a positive way. It makes me forget all those rude, selfish, and negative people I’ve encountered in the day.

  24. Thank you so much for this post. Today has been (almost) laughably bad and I was beginning to sink into gloominess. You reminded me to step back and acknowledge the beauty and good around me. Gloomy no more! 🙂

  25. This is such an encouraging and much needed post for me to hear. Sometimes I wrap myself up so much into the future that I forget to appreciate the wonderful things in front of me. I end up regretting later not being more positive about present times. Thanks for sharing the insight! Xo, M

  26. I think we’re all guilty of focusing on the bad sometimes but its good that we recognize that and try to switch our focus.
    Thanks for the reminder!

  27. OH man, this was me yesterday! I had my faith in humanity completely CRUSHED yesterday when I encountered a super aggressive driver on the road. It is so hard to hold onto the good when people are so cruel. But it’s so true. Thanks for the encouragement!

  28. ding ding ding. i have been thinking about this a lot lately. it is so easy to focus on all the negative things past, present, and future. my problem is how do you let go of thinking about these things? it’s so much easier said than done. but here’s to trying!!

  29. I know what you mean… Silly stuff gets to me too, but I’m really trying to create good energy around me so I can attract and reflect good energy to other people… Love your attitude!!!

  30. Well said. Why is it so much easier to focus on the negative? There is so much good out there, but sometimes it’s hard to remember.
    Your blog inspires me daily.

  31. I had a file in my file drawer at my previous job labeled “file for a bad day.” In it, I put notes, emails, positive comments people gave me. And when I did have my very bad, awful, no good day…I pulled that file out and reminded myself of all the good stuff.

  32. I’m so glad Typepad brought this to my attention. What a lovely post Joy!
    It really is a challenge to focus in on the positive, and not be brought down by the negative.
    In my last job I let every bit of criticism sink in; when I left I could only remember the complaints I received, not a lick of positive feedback.
    So (like Joanna above) when I started fresh at a new job I created a folder in my inbox labeled “Encouragement,” and I fill it with positive, reaffirming emails as they come in. (I read those as needed.)
    And now, when rude or nasty emails come in I address the complaints best I can, then delete them. It’s such a great feeling, and like you I hope someday I can apply this principle to all of life.

  33. Thanks for such an honest and inspiring post, Joy. This is a timely reminder for me – I seem to spend far too much time worrying about things that are tiny in the grand scheme of life, and you’re right that we need to give more time to the good stuff. Thank you and good luck in your efforts to let the good stuff stick more!

  34. Joy,
    Thank you for this nice post! It reminds me of your thoughtful New Year’s resolution to not compare ourselves with others. It’s refreshing to have a blogger who writes more open, honest thoughts, rather than how to be perfect all the time. Thanks for this!

  35. Recently, I, too, have found myself swimming in a pool of negatively. It’s absolutely no fun. I try to quote scriptures or positive quotes to myself. But ultimately, the choice to remain critical and negative lies on me.
    All I can really say is, “I’m working on it.”

  36. I often have this same conversation with myself and I am very glad I have read this today, thanks. I now feel motivated to keep these thoughts in my head again, I just hope they stay around for a while. Have a lovely day 🙂

  37. That was nice and well timed. I was just ruminating on some issues that I know eventually will seem minuscule and a far off memory, but damn if I won’t let it go right now. I read this and relaxed my shoulders and took a deep breath because life is much more fun if you focus on the good stuff. Thanks for the reminder.


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