Are You a River or a Pond?


  • Author Bruce Wilson
  • Published August 8, 2022
  • Word count 537

Are You a River or a Pond?

Bruce Wilson, PhD

“Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.”- Albert Einstein


Present day life is full of dualities. We are constantly inundated by oppositional views and attitudes. Positive attitudes are in a perpetual competition with negative attitudes. However, there is an attitudinal movement on the rise that may be even more challenging than our current attitudinal polarities. Neutral attitudes purvey an indifference and complacency that would prefer to ignore the issues of the day. These individuals would say: “Leave it for someone else to solve.” The neutral attitude modus operandi is unemotional and detached from the need for change.

“Nothing is interesting if you’re not interested.”- Helen MacInness


Potentially, indifference and lack of interest is an even bigger threat to human existence than difference. Polarities tend to work toward compromise while neutrality remains at a standstill. This is the proverbial difference between a river versus a pond. The river is self-sustainable while the pond becomes more and more stagnant. Immobility in a mobile world is an anachronism to functionality. Neutral attitudes may disallow some of our unwanted anxiety but simultaneously limit our potential for growth. Growth has always been a product of debate and innovation. The very notion of progress depends on the process of resolving different views and attitudes to yield better outcomes.

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”- Andy Warhol

Neutral attitudes maintain the status-quo. They are part of an ambivalent strategy to avoid being responsible for creating change. Positive change does not happen automatically. Negative change, on the other hand, can definitely evolve on its own. The automaticity of change may not be desirable change. For example, climate change is a current representation of this automatic but undesirable change.


“Between stimulus and response, there is a space where we choose our response.”- Stephen Covey

Making decisions is not an easy task but it is extremely viable to our future on the planet. We know that neutral attitudes do not promote our decision-making capacity. Instead, the neutral attitude is like running in place, there is no forward movement. We actually need both positive and negative attitudes in our lives in order to distinguish direction. Failure and success are expected and realized through this competition of ideas. However, without these comparative ideologies we could become more and more neutral and eventually immobile.


Resistance to change is driven by ambiguity. When we stay neutral in our beliefs and actions, we are maintaining only the status-quo. Do you want to be a river or a pond? A pond will eventually stagnate and is an unhealthy option. To avoid stagnation, we need to become a river. The river has self-cleansing properties. Movement creates change.

Our internal self-talk is a good example of the value of positive or negative over neutral. We listen to our own thoughts and work through the inevitable contest between “this” and “that” voices. In this challenge, we surface from the depths of our reverie to discover either something that works or something that fails. Either way we win. Because there is growth through success or failure. Indifference has no winning!


Dr. Bruce Wilson is a psychologist in private practice at Mind Health Care, Geelong, Australia. He has 25 years of experience and enjoys sharing his ramblings with friends and colleagues. This article is solely his work.

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