I consider myself a positive person. I tend not to let unpleasant things get to me, and even when in a less than ideal situation I try to stay focused on any positive aspects that may be present. It's not that I'll be ignorant of the whole picture. Even while remaining optimistic I'll usually be well aware of the negative issues involved, but I'll refrain from letting them bring me down. I think I picked up this quality from my yeshiva days where the concept of "Aizeh hu ashir? Hasameach b'chelko" was emphasized (Pirkei Avot 4:1). (Who is the happy man? He who is satisfied with his lot.) I've always been glad to have such a personality, and have considered it a great asset to have through life. But recently I realized that being a positive person can have it's down-sides too. Staying focused on the positive can actually have detrimental effects on a person too.
I came to this realization when I recently examined my life and saw that I wasn't doing anything significant to achieve what I really wanted in life. There is so much that I want to accomplish and to be, and I've had specific and concrete ideas of some of those things for some time now. Yet, I haven't been doing much to reach those goals. Why is this? Is it due to laziness? Possibly. But I think a better explanation is that I'm quite happy with my life as it is now. Even though I'm not achieving my goals, I usually feel good enough about my life that it kind of takes away the drive to work towards other things. After all, if you're happy with what you have, why pursue other things? It sounds like a pathetic excuse, but I think it explains well why I haven't been trying as hard as I should be to achieve certain things. Despite my aspiration to be more than I am now, I haven't been bothered enough by my situation to want to work towards achieving those goals. And why haven't I been bothered by it? Because I don't ever let myself take a good look at the negative aspects of my situation and how it's preventing me from growing the way I want to.
Lesson #1: There's a fine line between being happy with one's life and settling for mediocrity.
Another issue which raised this awareness in my life was in regard to relationships. Relationships are never easy to succeed at, and there are innumerable pitfalls that can ruin a potentially meaningful one. Any mature person understands that it's inevitable that even someone who is liked a lot will still have certain qualities that may be less than endearing. The trick is not to let those bothersome aspects get in the way of all the good that the relationship has to offer. You need to focus on the positive. I suppose I'm pretty good at doing that. In fact, I know I'm way too good at it. I can't think of a single time that I ended a relationship because of any specific disturbing or annoying characteristic of the other person. I'm very forgiving of most things and can put up with a lot if I feel the payoff is worth the price. And this also I've always considered an asset that I can be proud of. But it too has a serious downside that shouldn't be ignored.
If you don't admit to yourself that there are troubling aspects to a person - or even if you admit there are, but not acknowledge just how troubling these aspects are to you - it will come back to bite you in the ass later on in the relationship. Issues that really bother you shouldn't be ignored, even if they do seem to be outweighed by many more positive characteristics of the person. If you only focus on the positive and not let yourself feel just how much those issues affect you, you aren't doing anyone any favors.
Of course, this does have to be balanced with the other factor that obviously not everyone is perfect and one must be prepared to accept certain flaws in the other person. But those "flaws" need to be carefully examined and determined how much they truly bother you.
Lesson #2: There's a fine line between being forgiving and giving up on something that you really shouldn't.
Having a positive outlook is a wonderful quality that I wish we all had. But as with all things, one needs to understand that this wonderful quality should be used with discretion and that there are situations where a more critical and unforgiving attitude would definitely serve one better than being sameach with one's chelek.