Too Much Nasty
“Eighty percent of people are great. It’s the other 20% that cause most of the trouble”. When I read this sweeping statement, made recently by a Melbourne psychologist, it surprised me. That many?
Somehow, in the back of my head (where I keep a small drawer full of beliefs, folded briefs, semi-beliefs, long-johns, and erroneous facts), I never estimated the figure to be so high. I thought, maybe 5% at most made life merry-do for everyone else on a regular basis. Surely that was more than enough for the rest of us to handle.
Yet, whether it is 5% or 20%, it’s true that nasty people create a disproportionate amount of trouble. And, by nasty, I don’t mean, “Hey! Who stole my spotty socks?” “Did you just take a mouthful of my dessert when I wasn’t looking?”, or “I think I overheard that man saying a rude word”.
I mean, vicious, sadistic people. The kind that would idly rip your head off as casually as top the tip off a soft-boiled egg. These people create untold havoc in the lives of virtually everyone they come across, leaving a physical and emotional mess strewn behind them.
Now, naturally, we all have the capacity to do terrible things. But, for lots of good reasons we either don’t or very rarely venture into full-scale merciless brutality (unless of course, someone pinches our comfy chair or eats all the best chocolate treats).
That leaves those devoid of conscience and with sadistic tendencies to dream of blowing up the Hoover Dam for their jollies or aim for worrisome world domination. While, the rest of humanity think watching mean-spirited people’s pants falling down is enough in the way of rough justice.
Being of the sort that considers relocating someone’s garden gnome or short-sheeting beds are acts of wanton malfeasance, I am perplexed by severe cruelty. Nasty behavior makes no sense. Yet for a certain hard to measure percentage, that’s what life is about.
Today, the Internet allows these types to bully and abuse with impunity. Death menaces, rape threats, and various other forms of intimidation are used (typically against teens and women) by ogre-ish “trolls”, disaffected ex’s, and a seedy assortment of miserably sadistic types.
That’s not quite in keeping with ideas of an excitingly bright new googly world of smiley, happy yahoo-ing communities, is it? But the Web will always have its share of horrible creepy crawlies. It’s no surprise nasty types like to hide whilst wreaking havoc, as undoubtedly, it beats doing time in prison with other vile types.
The truth is, you cannot be free from nasty people. They are scattered everywhere. But, you don’t have to live like a victim either. There are times when you do best to stand up to bullying, just as there are occasions when you’re better off escaping. There are times to get help, and others when it’s best to ignore pathetic put downs by pushing them aside.
It might surprise new readers that we are talking about nasty people, given it seems so out of step with happiness. Surely, the more unpleasant the thoughts that occupy your mind, the harder it is to feel bubbly, giggly, and jolly. But happiness to me is essentially deeper than that. It needs to survive hardships, antagonism, and silly things like spilling coffee in your lap or dancing with cramp in your knees.
In my book I explain how 7 essential strengths set you up to live beautifully, regardless of the nastiness you have to endure. That seems like an audacious claim. Yet, after years studying the major faiths and sifting through thoughts from great thinkers, I have distilled these elements into the ideal antidote.
You cannot be happy in life unless you address the reality of nastiness too. Regardless how many people are particularly nasty towards you, the answer is not in getting obsessed with harm, but with healing. When you grasp the potential for good in you, it’s surprising to realize that even a life of constant calamity can become a stunning triumph.
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