Since 2006, we, the residents of Puerto Rico, have lived through numerous trying situations. We have endured government bankruptcy, a market crash, government corruption, several natural disasters, political ineptitude, business obstacles and very recently, a leadership crisis.
While all of this is true, it is also true that if we focus on an alternate perspective, we can find the positive amongst the chaos. The proof is in the many untold positive stories among the vast majority of negativity that has surrounded the island. While many of us could have been walloped by our own apparent misery, many individuals and businesses survived and, in many cases, thrived, under great duress.
We have often said that there should be a “Hall of fame” for all the business entrepreneurs that have suffered these “lost years” and are still standing. These stories of success are not necessarily from outliers - there are stories from folks that had the same limitations and the same bleak prospects but learned to adapt and be flexible as well as being creative and efficient. They continued to rethink and reform their businesses by having a seemingly misplaced passion and an apparent irrational belief in themselves and in the future of Puerto Rico.
Still, many of those stories remain untold. Why?
When one is in an enclosed environment of people, such as an island, one tends to focus on a perceived reality and a superficial consensus. This supposed truth can be dangerous. It ignores a reliable outside perspective; it spreads quickly and creates fear. When negativity spreads, people will tend to focus on it by showing frustration. Sensationalism, disgust and alarm is what really sells; therefore, this toxicity and fear only breeds insecurity and instability. Which in turn serves to prolong misery.
Several years ago, someone dared us to see the positive in every challenge and in every failure and to focus on the positive. It is sound advice even if it sounds clichéd. It is not necessarily easy, but this is what we all must do. The doomsday scenario and self-pity are a short-term misplaced answer to a long-term problem. We have to challenge ourselves by ignoring the latest bombardment of tweets, blogs, social media and overall negative news at our disposal every hour of the day. By consciously deciding not to allow the impending next contaminated story to affect us, we can hopefully begin the process of negative detoxification and can start focusing on all the positive things we have learned amid the chaos- since 2006.
We have learned to be stronger and wiser, more resilient and adaptable. We have learned to survive by being less dependent on the government. We have learned to continue to strive and adapt and positively contribute to our families, communities and businesses. This is the positive knowledge we need to share as we move forward and continue to build a better island for ourselves, our children and grandchildren. This is the knowledge that helps us refocus because, at the end, we all have lived through the worse and yet… we are still standing.