The Sometimes Importance of Negativity


I am fond of “Yes,”
But when the devil comes to my address
Requesting my company for a walk,
If I do not wish to go
I shall be glad for “No.”

e are often told that the cure for all that ails us, even our physical problems, is greater mental positivity. We just need to think happier thoughts.

Besides the fact that the greedy positivity gurus, with their nauseating smiles and condescending demeanors, are transparently hateful creatures, the smug advice they dole out so arrogantly is fundamentally flawed.

Positive affirmations simply do not work. In fact, according to a study published in May 2009 in Psychological Science, such affirmations actually caused negative moods in study participants with low self-esteem, the very people that affirmations are designed to help. Affirmations made the problem worse!

Our thoughts do impact our feelings. (And our feelings do have some impact, perhaps even a significant one, upon the immune system.) But fake positivity doesn’t touch our deeply rooted beliefs about our selves. And an irrational fear of negative thinking can only add to anxiety.

Fortunately, true happiness is tolerant of, and in fact dependent upon, realistic negativity and healthy skepticism.

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 Posted by on February 23, 2012
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