This column is for the local newspaper. If any of you notice any extra or missing commas, can you please let me know??? Pretty please. :-)
Killing ANTs in Northwest Indiana
by Dan Blankenship
I can only imagine that the title of this column has grabbed your attention. No, I am not advocating the genocide of our little, six-legged friends. I am talking about a different kind of ant. Automatic Negative Thoughts, or ANTs, is a metaphorical term used by some doctors of Neurology to describe our brain’s tendency to be overcome by a pessimistic and often depressing mentality. The visual of actual ants carrying negative thoughts to different segments of the soft tissue inside our skull can help us understand the damage being done. And even though ANTs may not cause a person to turn into a complete failure, automatic negative thoughts can limit a person’s ability to reach his or her potential success in current and future endeavors.
Successful people tend to learn to control the ANTs that continually assault the human brain, whether it be fear of trying to get a new job or anxiety when taking an entrance exam. At the age of eighteen, Ludwig van Beethoven had to face negativity that would have crushed most people; he was going deaf. In his own words he wanted to know: “How can I, a musician, say to people ‘I am deaf!’” Finally, after taking control of the ANTs he said, “It will not wholly conquer me! Oh, how beautiful it is to live - and live a thousand times over!” The most famous composer realized that it was not his deafness attacking his courage to reach his destiny. His own mind was the culprit.
The world is full of successful people who have learned to kill the automatic negative thoughts in their own brains. They live life to the fullest, and their joy is not based on money, fame, or the perfect body, but on the never wavering belief that negativity can become as stifling as the any physical ailment.
As I listen to the current discussion on the future of Northwest Indiana, I wonder if the ANTs are not contagious. It seems to me that whether the discussion is property taxes, regional transportation, or job creation the discussion often turns negative. Those politicians, planners, and region advocates who come to the table with positive suggestions to improve the region are often met with resistance based solely on negative judgments. For instance, I have heard many criticize Gary Mayor Scott King for bringing professional basketball and baseball to the region. I have yet to see those same critics offer positive solutions to improve the region we call home. Mayor King didn’t listen to the ANTs that can, at times, run rampant in our neck of the woods. He moved forward with what he believed would be a substantial and beneficial addition to his community.
It is time to admit the obvious, as Beethoven did, it is our own negativity holding Northwest Indiana in check. From East Chicago to Hebron, the quality of life will improve when we decide to kill the ANTs and move forward, concentrating on the positive aspects of the region.
Yes, the title did throw me, I lived in Mississippi, sharing space with mounds of red ants that refuse to go away. Your article was great. I see daily how this can happen. With your permission, I'd like to share it at work.