This Monday Americans across the country celebrated the life, legacy, and memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. just as we do every year on the third Monday in January. With the emergence of websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, social media has become a major platform for people to show their love of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on this special day. Quote after quote and video after video showed up on my newsfeed honoring the legacy of this great man and civil rights activist. As these words and images continued to roll past my computer screen, I thought about some of the words of Dr. King that hold a special place in my life. While shifting through the numerous Dr. King quotes in my mind, I remembered one that I had heard for the first time a few years back: “never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”

I don’t know about you, but often times I am faced with a situation where I can either choose the dark path that lead to bitterness, or I can choose to stray away from that bleak path and choose a path that leads to light instead. A lot of times choosing bitterness seems like it would be the easier road to go down. You think that you will be able to feel better by resenting your best friend for going out with the person that you’ve had a crush on for months, and honestly, in the beginning you may actually feel better for resenting your friend and her new boo. After all, they surely shouldn’t deserve your support for stabbing you in the back. So for the first few days you think that you feel better for being bitter about your situation, but after awhile that bitterness will probably start to not feel as good to you as it did on day one.

Positive thinker, holding on to anger and hatred can only cause you more anger and hatred. The more you dwell on that situation, the more it consumes your life. You will only become angrier and more bitter the more that you hold onto the resentment that you have towards these two individuals that have wronged you. This anger started out as just a small seed in your heart. If you had chosen not to dwell on that anger then the seed would have died. It may not have died right away because the pain from being wronged doesn’t leave over night, but that seed would have died without receiving proper attention. However, by choosing to accept bitterness you also choose to let that seed grow. As the rage boils throughout your veins you give that seed the nutrients it needs to mature. Your bitterness will turn into the water that feeds the seed, giving it the kiss of life. Your hatred becomes the sunshine that will give newness to your seed, causing it to develop and grow into a budding plant. Your resentment will become the fertilizer that strengthens the plant as it wraps around your insides and suffocates you causing you more and more pain. Outside of your body, taking care of and nurturing a plant is a thing of beauty, but this plant of resentment that inhabits your body is out of place and can only cause you harm.

Positive thinker, if you are currently holding on to any kind of bitterness then I challenge you to let go of it. You’re only hurting yourself by allowing that bitterness to continue to grow inside of you. Without bitterness your plant will die. It will probably not die as quickly as it would have if you had chosen to never hold on to bitterness, but by choosing to finally let go of it, your plant can no longer survive. Without resentment the plant won’t have the nutrients, sunlight, and water that are needed for it to grow inside of you and bring toxicity into your body. Positive thinker, let that unwanted poison leave your body so that you can live healthily once again.

There’s no point in being bitter about the new relationship that your ex best friend and her honey have embarked upon. They’re happy, and you too deserve to be happy. They’ve moved on and so should you. Accept the situation and acknowledge that holding on to that anger is not worth your time. Move on so that you won’t have to spend all of your time focusing on being bitter. Do it so that you can stop focusing on the negative and start focusing on the positive once again.

Once you throw your bitterness out, you’ll have much more time and energy to devote to things that will actually bring you happiness instead of pain. If you are too busy holding on to the bitterness that you have about your former best friend and her new lover then you won’t be able to realize that there are plenty of good people around you that will actually value you as a human being who is deserving and worthy of respect and love. Positive thinker, choose the path of lightness instead of the one that is full of darkness. Choose to let that seed die instead of choosing to allow it to take root inside of you and grow.

Choose to listen to the positive words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and “never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”

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