Positively Positive

It has always been amazing to me …

… how easy it is to pick up words and phrases that are tossed around in society.

It’s funny because I have noticed that often when I first hear one of these words or phrases I don’t even like it; I start using it in a mocking way. Then the next thing I know without even being conscious of it, I’m using the word with regularity. To make it even worse, most of these words carry negative connotations with them especially in the context in which they are used. That isn’t a way to be happier.

Many, many years ago when our oldest offspring (“Thing 1”) was 3 or 4, we were in the living room one evening playing games and just goofing off while the TV was on. It just so happened to be an episode of Seinfeld. It was an episode where they were constantly using the phrase “damn it.” We were busy doing other things, so I really didn’t think anything of it. Until … the next day when our sweet little child was walking through the house saying, yes, you guessed it, “damn it.” Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!

Being infiltrated by negativity?

I tell this story as example of how non-desired things ever so unassumingly enter our lives. One of the things that can infiltrate our lives is negative words and phrases. It goes like this:

  • We hear them

  • We say them

  • We live them (Eww, that hurts!)

We have all experienced a “Negative Nelly” somewhere in our lives. That is someone who is always negative, never has anything nice or good to say. Everything is just awful for them. And they are going to share that with you.

We also know that we never enjoy being around that person because we know that after awhile it affects us and not in a good way.

Yes, Negative Nellies are the extreme cases that really stand out and are obvious, but as with so many things in life, the same phenomenon occurs in much smaller degrees.

So small that often we never notice them. Here are a few of the words I’m talking about:

  • Hard

  • Difficult

  • Disappointed 

  • Offended

  • Can’t 

  • Don’t 

  • Won’t

You can google Enchanted Learning‘ and find a long list of not only negative words but positive words as well. And the positive ones are the ones I’m wanting to talk about here.

Don’t be skeptical. Be pragmatic.

I’m detecting a little skepticism out there so just bare with me.   

We accomplish this by taking small steps every day.
Let me demonstrate: take the words hard and difficult. Remove them from your vocabulary and replace them with the words challenge or challenging. Who wants to do something hard? I don’t, but if you challenge me, it’s game on. Losing that last five pounds is sooo hard, but let someone double dog dare you that there is no way you can lose it and that challenge becomes a goal.

All positive: It changes your attitude and your entire energy level. It can work the same with all of these words:

  • Disappointed – My expectations were too high

  • Offended – Permanently erase with no replacement, it simply means someone else is controlling your thoughts

  • Can’t, Don’t, Won’t – I choose to do something else

To live a happier life, we have to focus on the positive and erase the negative. positive thinkingWe can do this in small steps by simply removing negative words from our vocabulary. Don’t forget that the herd has a way of trying to slowly and unassumingly turn you back to the negatives. Don’t Be a Cow! stay focused on the positive for a happier life!

Take Action: 

Examine your vocabulary.

Find words and phrases with negative connotations and see how you can replace them with positive ones.


Don’t Be A Cow and Follow the herd says Chicago Trib writer

We love that he is sharing our advice. BE HAPPIER. Don’t follow the herd. And have a happy Mother’s day.


Don’t be a cow and follow the herd. Stay home on Mother’s Day.

John Kass

John KassContact ReporterChicago Tribune

If you’re thinking about going out for Mother’s Day brunch on Sunday, gathering the siblings, in-laws and their kids to make the special mom feel special, you must do something first.

You must plan. Otherwise, Mother’s Day brunch will be a disaster.

And as a veteran of many such brunches, and as an American of Greek descent whose DNA affords him an insider’s perspective on the ins and outs of brunches and “relaxed family dining,” I have simple rules you should follow.

Everything will be perfection, don’t worry.

Before you gather your wife and kids in the car, with everyone properly dressed in their Sunday best, and with Mother’s Day flowers in hand, have them stand out on the driveway to take pictures.

While the kids are preoccupied with the only things they truly love — their phones — walk out on your lawn. They won’t notice you.

Now cut a big chunk of sod. Put it next to your lips.

And eat it.

Now feed some sod to your kids and more sod to your wife, since this is Mother’s Day for her, too, and to your mom, since, naturally, she’s your mom. Whether they like it or not.

Rush everyone back inside to brush their teeth. You can’t have gloppy eggs Benedict or “picked over” smoked salmon or bad steam table potatoes if you have sod dirt on your lips. Wipe that sod off. Rinse. Repeat.

And later, while at the crowded restaurant, be calm.

Don’t get upset (as usual) when all the in-laws show up late (as usual) and cop an attitude because you haven’t been seated yet.

Just remain calm as the extended family is jammed into the waiting area, also known as Mother’s Day Purgatory. I prefer the bar.

But that’s crowded too. Everyone sweats, the kids are hungry, and they’re fidgety. And a few announce they hate everything, and Grandma says, “Will you please have them put down those phones?!” and the kids stare at you.

Everyone hates you now. So just sit quietly. And when you’re told that it will take 45 minutes to an hour to be seated — even though you had reservations — don’t cry.

Merely pass out some extra sod for everyone to enjoy. Chew it. Chew it good. Use the back teeth, the molars, and chew like a mighty herbivore in a herd of mighty critters.

Notice your wife sitting there, in Mother’s Day Purgatory, whispering to herself, “Happy (bleeping) Mother’s Day,” or your mom; and then notice your sisters-in-law mouthing the same dang thing.

Happy bleeping Mother’s Day.

Eat some more sod, and say loudly so all may hear: “Moooooo!”

Because you’re cattle. Because you’re livestock. And you know it.

And if you’re going out for brunch on Mother’s Day, you’re nothing but livestock herded halfway to hell. How long will you wait for your table?

How long would it take to count all the grains of sand in all the beaches in the world?

“Oh, if only I had the wits to listen when John Kass warned me about Mother’s Day,” you might say, waiting to pay around $200 per person for the Mother’s Day brunch at the Peninsula hotel.

Moo cow. Moo.

You herded yourselves quite willingly, because you read something in the paper or on a website on “20 Great Places for Mother’s Day Brunch!!!”

But what will that get you? Nothing. It won’t even get you the Dutch Baby Apple Pancake.


No one in the restaurant business would go to Mother’s Day brunch for the thick, gloppy hollandaise and the cold toast and eggs as dry as your grandfather’s scalp.

Don’t go out for Mother’s Day. Are you crazy?

Go out the day before or days and days after and say it’s a Mother’s Day brunch. Your mom or wife will feel better.

I’m not going out. Because I hate being herded like cattle, in politics or food.

And the best chef in Chicago, Michelin star winner Carrie Nahabedian of Brindille (my favorite restaurant) isn’t going out on Mother’s Day either.

At Brindille, she’s having a Mother’s Day tea on Saturday. But it’s sold out. Sorry.

So book another tea on another date. If you haven’t the exquisite French-influenced desserts crafted by Brindille’s master pastry chef Craig Harzewski, you simply don’t know what you’re missing. Craig is a genius, and he’s from Buffalo.

Nahabedian’s family thought about going out Sunday morning. Her mom is 90.

“But then I thought, ‘Oh, no, wait a minute,’ I better cook for the family at home,” she said. “I just cooked two weeks ago for them at Easter, so what the heck?”

My easy brunch-at-home trick is to get a good coffeecake and serve killer Bloody Marys, but not from a mix. Make them from scratch.

And while they’re drinking, you make lunch:

Mother’s Day Roast Chicken and Potatoes ala Kasso. Don’t ask me for the recipe. I don’t have one. Just use the basic elements of all life: lemon, garlic, olive oil, pepper, salt, oregano.

Parboil the red potatoes, quarter, toss in the seasonings, in an aluminum pan. Put the pan on the bottom rack of the grill, with the live coals on either side.

On the top rack, set up chickens for, yes, Beer Can Chicken. Or go with roast lamb. The meat fat drips into the potatoes and bastes them.

It doesn’t taste like grass.

Give your wife some flowers, thank your mom for giving you life, watch some home movies when you and the kids were little. Laugh with each other. Enjoy each other.

And don’t forget:

Happy Mother’s Day.

Listen to “The Chicago Way” podcast with John Kass and Jeff Carlin — at

[email protected]

Twitter @John_Kass


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