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On positive thinking…


Positive thinking gets a bad rap sometimes. Saying that someone see’s the glass as half full can be a veiled way of saying they are naive. Perhaps even divorced from reality. It gets a bad name by people who cling to a shell of positivity in the face of any circumstance. People who act as if their whole world view is so fragile that anything but sweetness and light will send them hurtling into the abyss of despair. This is not going to help. Some things are just shit. 

It is very hard to tell if something is good or bad until after the fact.

A historical distance that in the age of information our 24 news feed isn’t very good at providing. 

Our mind is tilted towards seeking out potential threats. We had ancestors that weren’t like this and they were killed because they didn’t spot the lion. This can lead us to have a certain distrust of the positive. We are easily drawn down the negative path. One look at our “if it bleeds it leads” media will confirm this. 

The gossiping that human beings relish perhaps has its roots in our evolutionary need to belong in a group. We had to keep track of the endless status positioning that was so important to our safety. We had ancestors that didn’t do this and they were killed because they were thrown out of the group.

The fact is that many, if not most things are neither good nor bad intrinsically. What matters is the wider context they exist in and the perspective they are viewed from. The question is therefore not whether they are good or bad but rather whether the perspective you view them from is going to get you what you want.

Does the story that you tell yourself about events in your life make you smile or not?

There is no denial of reality here.

Just an interpretation of the available information that leads to pleasant feelings instead of unpleasant ones. A manipulation perhaps, but no more a manipulation than inevitably exists bellow our conscious awareness in any given situation. 

Things merely are what they are and if we can take control (or as much as we have the capacity to) of our minds compulsion to create a story about what these things mean then perhaps we can all be happier in the process. 

Our mind has a tendency to look for more of what it already has (confirmation bias) so if we think of the glass as half full maybe it will do the work of filling it fully for us. If we use positive thinking as a tool that doesn’t involve a denial of reality then we open a door to more of what makes us happy and less of what doesn’t.