Happiness Tip: Avoid Naysayers

Tips-Illus-Movies2

One tip in How to Be Happy NOW is to Avoid Naysayers, excerpted here:
There are some people who have limited perception and don’t think it’s possible to change your circumstances or make your dreams come true. Avoid sharing your dreams and aspirations with these folks because they can drag you down with their negativity and dissuade you from working towards your goals. Instead seek constructive criticism and feedback from people who are happy to assist you and don’t want to shoot you down.

The movie Maid in Manhattan is an enjoyable Cinderella retread, where the working class gal gets the prince/senator after running away from the ball, however what struck me as true-to-life and illustrative of the “Avoid Naysayers” tip was the relationship between the main character, Marisa, and her mother.  Marisa, played by Jennifer Lopez, works as a maid in a five-star hotel. She dreams of a better life for herself and her young son, and wants to move out of housekeeping and into management. When her mother sees the application she says: (18:38 into the movie, or at 8:27 in this YouTube clip)

Mom: This fell out of your bag.  Is it yours?MaidinManhattan
Marisa: Yeah, thanks.
Mom: Managment, huh? (raising her eyebrows)
Marisa: Um, hum
Mom: You’re fancy. (glaring)
Marisa: What?
Mom: I’m not saying a word.
Marisa: Can you not say a word somewhere else.

The mom doesn’t believe her daughter deserves to be anything more than a maid and completely discourages her dreams of moving into management. Later in the movie after Marisa is fired they have this exchange:

Mom: We’ll call Señora Rodriguez. She owes me a favor. She has–
Marisa: I’m not calling Mrs. Rodriguez. I love you, okay? I do. But I don’t want to clean houses. There’s nowhere to go from there.
Mom: Hasn’t this taught you anything? Wake up, little girl, you have responsibilities. And they come every month like clockwork. You want to end up back in the projects? Keep dreaming dreams that will never happen. You want to put food on the table? Call Señora Rodriguez.
Marisa: You’re right, Ma. I’m a good cleaning lady. I’ll start over. But not with Mrs. Rodriguez. I’m gonna find a job as a maid in some hotel. After some time passes, I’m gonna apply for the management program. And when I get the chance to be a manager….and I will, Ma, I know I will, I’m going to take that chance without any fear. Without your voice in my head telling me that I can’t.

I’m sure Marisa’s mom wanted what was best for her daughter, she just didn’t have the vision to see that more was available. There’s nothing surprising or wrong about a parent (friend, partner, etc.) having a limited dream, but we can’t pay attention to these people. Instead we need to seek constructive criticism and feedback from people who are happy to assist us and don’t want to shoot us down.

I like what John Tesh said about his transition in career from cohost of Entertainment Tonight to musician. He asked five people he knew well what they saw him doing with his life. Each said they saw him doing something with music and not one of them said they saw him reading celebrity birthdays on TV. He said, “The key is to ask the right people. These should be people who know you well or knew you well in the past and whose opinions you truly value. They should not all be close family members, however. Sometimes close family members point us toward the path that they consider stable or prudent, not to the one that can lead to our true passion.

“If I had asked my parents, they would have said that they saw me as a doctor—because they consider medicine a good profession, not because I have any interest in medicine or an aptitude for it.” Quoted in Bottom Line Personal, November 1, 2012.

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