It can be easy to fall victim to the negativity of others, especially when it is someone close to you, like a family member, friend, or a current or former coworker. I learned a long time ago to always take a minute to collect my thoughts and find the best way to take the high road.
It was 1999, sophomore English class at Oak Park & River Forest High School when my teacher, Mr. Peter Kahn told his class about the high road. “In life”, he stated, people will, “often let their personal failures/hardships impact how they treat you.” Mr. Kahn changed my life over the course of that English class. I had an awakening, if you will, and learned how to not be consumed by others negativity.
As a matter of fact, with the help of Mr. Kahn and my guidance counselor, Mr. McHugh, I went from starting high school with a 1.7 GPA to graduating with nearly a 3.3. This is another reason why I will always respect educators and the work they do changing the lives of their students. I’m happy to report that Mr. Kahn to this day is still changing the lives of his students. I have remained in contact with Mr. Kahn and have thanked him many times for changing my life.
Fast forward to the present, and I’m still opting to take the high road as much as possible in my daily life. That doesn’t mean that I’m passive aggressive or that I’m overly optimistic. Rather, I refuse to allow others to bring me down.
That’s been a real challenge as of late, and without going into more details, I’ll just say that I’m stepping on the gas as I cruise the high road. I love this quote; “Taking the high road is hard work. Walking uphill requires strength and effort. Anyone can take the low road. Walking downhill is easy.”
Isn’t that true? It’s always easier to take whatever is troubling you and push it onto others. Attempting to force people to share in your misery is not right, nor will it help you overcome. So, what can we do to help our family or friends that are struggling?
Be present for them. Put down the phone and have a real, meaningful conversation. If it is something beyond what you’re able to do as an individual, maybe recommend they talk to someone on a professional level. I think, as a society, we all could do a better job talking about mental health issues without any stigma or shame.
I’m a firm believer that negativity is contagious. I treat negativity like it’s the flu, only I still haven’t gotten the FDA to approve the “anti-negativity shot” I’m working on. Here’s to taking the road less traveled more often and making the choice to go high when they go low. Be the Mr. Kahn in your own way and help others find their high road.