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Could Negative Thinking Actually Be Positive?

By December 3, 2009

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I like to think that I am a positive person, someone who views what life throws my way optimistically, perhaps with a sprinkling of realistic expectations. I seldom go down the negative thinking route. You could say I'm one of those glass half full type of gals. Oh, my moods do swing negative sometime, I'm human after all and do experience feeling less than hopeful.

So, yesterday when I saw an article in the NY Post entitled The Power of Negative Thinking I simply had to give it more than a fleeting glance. Here's what I found out. A negative mood study was done at the University of New South Wales. The results of the study indicate a bad mood or sadness could have some advantages. Okay, but let's just say I am feeling skeptical about this outcome. Nothing new, I tend to be skeptical about stuff in general. It is the "investigator in me." Just because I'm an optimist doesn't make me a push over. A cynic? Almost never. But, skeptical, yes! I mean really! I'm not convinced that negative thinking is a positive. Not yet! Maybe not ever.

In the article "Think Negative!" published this month in Australian Science, Joseph Forgas, professor of psychology, says "Whereas positive mood seems to promote creativity, flexibility, cooperation, and reliance on mental shortcuts, negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking paying greater attention to the external world."

This statement conveys to me that negative thinkers are more "rigid" and perhaps more "methodical" in their actions or motivations. Okay. But, wait a minute. I can also be rigid and methodical when tackling a problem or working on a project. I never felt these actions made me out to be negative. Maybe I'm missing the point. Positive thinking does not equate to ignoring the physical or earthly components of life. I understand the importance of grounding my energies and not drifting off willy nilly into lofty ideals without question.

In the NY Post article, Sara Stewart brings up James Arthur Ray, and the tragic sweat lodge ceremony where 3 people died and others were sickened as an example of positive thinking going awry. But, I don't necessarily agree with her analysis that the people who follow Ray and other mega-guru types are typical of positive thinkers. Ray preaching about the philosophy behind the universal law of attraction for attracting prosperity, wellness, and happiness was not the problem. There has been much discussion about Ray being ego-driven and his followers being gullible. These are valid arguments worthy of discussion, but I'm not going to change my habit of thinking positive out of a fear of being blind-sighted or sucked in by whacko ideas or false prophets. I've been routinely visualizing putting on my "thinking cap" and adjusting it ever so snugly by tying it under my chinny-chin chin ever since my fifth grade teacher suggested the students doing this before her classroom lectures.

My point here is that there are plenty of positive thinkers or optimists in the world who are open-minded, not mind-controlled.

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December 3, 2009 at 5:18 pm
(1) Marie says:

I think you can be cautious yet still remain positive. I voted in the poll. Optimist here.

December 3, 2009 at 11:30 pm
(2) Britt says:

I think Positive Thinking goes awry when it causes you to see exclusively through tunnel vision. The periphery includes listening to your body, your gut, and the bad news along with the good. A lot of LOA (Law of Attraction) types encourage you to STOP reading all critical publications, and that to me is like moving forward in the hopes that the quicksand that you see there but are “not thinking of” will disappear of it’s own accord. It won’t, and you will sink.

The (f)Law of Attraction

December 4, 2009 at 10:47 am
(3) LisaMarie says:

I think Britt states it very well.

The articles argument is akin to stating a sad mood or a sorrowful moment equates to suicide.

One does not lead to the other unless we allow ourselves to not look objectively at a given situation. When we lean only on emotion are we potentially in jeopardy.

December 7, 2009 at 9:50 am
(4) Steve M Nash says:

And I disagree with Britt. If there is quick-sand ahead there is quick-sand ahead – and you’re best to take some action.

The trouble with listening to the news though, filled with its doom and gloom, is that the news falsely tells you there’s quicksand ahead a thousand times a day just for the sake of it.

And exposing yourself to this unnecessary, and unhelpful, bad news doesn’t make for a positive life.

Right now, most people (whether they want to admit it/realise it or not) are addicted to drama – either the drama in their own life, or if that’s not dramatic enough, the drama played out in the news every second of the day.

Drama helps define who we think we are, for sure, but it interrupts what we should be doing (and we shouldn’t be spending all of our day listening to drama lol).

So should we be positive all the time? Probably not. Does negative thinking serve a purpose. Probably yes. As I think this blog post stated.

Ulimitately, whether we believe in the law of (or the flaw of) attraction, we really should depend on our *own* wisdom much more. When you think about your life, and how positive and negative thinking have helped/hindered your life, then you *know* whether it’s right to be optimistic, pessimistic or realistic *for your own life*.

Leave everyone else’s decision to themselves, individually.

That’s what I say, anyway…



December 8, 2009 at 8:47 am
(5) Howard Brown says:

Negitive thinking can only turn positive IF you are aware of it and can turn it into something good.Many negitive things happen to us all the time but if you stop and reflect on them there can be a positive outcome.So yes to a point I believe negitives can be positive but it certainly takes some skill and persistence. I am Positive but imposible in this world to be there 24/7 so back to what I just said.

December 8, 2009 at 10:02 am
(6) Fay Mingo says:

Whoo Hoo! Go Steve and Howard! I totally, or “positively” agree! You both said it well! Thanks. ;)

December 8, 2009 at 10:14 am
(7) Shannon says:

I believe that while I generally try to think positive, negative thoughts should be paid closer attention to. Negative thoughts are warnings for us that we are entering an area of bad energy. It could be a persons bad energy, a place, a situation, whatever. What is important is to use that warning to make better decisions and position ourself in good energy.

December 8, 2009 at 11:19 am
(8) Choyce7 says:

It appears to me that everyone is confusing negative thinking with planning. You can plan for a setback without thinking negatively. Positive energy with planning is a wonderful thing. Negative energy with planning will bring nothing but negative ends.

December 8, 2009 at 12:09 pm
(9) Blissful says:

I voted realist.
I like to expect the positive outcome of everything, but be prepared in case that is just not how it goes.
That attitude of everything being flowers and sunshine is just not realistic and belongs back in Woodstock days. There are lousy things that happen and being prepared is being equipped to handle them so that the outcome leans more toward the positive than the negative.

December 8, 2009 at 11:21 pm
(10) Brigit says:

Since beginning to consciously use Law of Attraction I’ve become more of an optimist. I don’t think negative thinking can be good, but I think staying centered/grounded can be when needed.
No, negative thinking has never done anything good for me, however, surviving the negative times in my life and being able to look back and see what I learned has been good.

December 9, 2009 at 2:41 pm
(11) Shauna says:

It is our society trying to justify the work-a-day mentallity that creates such misinformation as the NY Times article. They want to discredit those of us who believe there is more to life than the proverbial “rat race” that our culture has sustained itself on for decades. The only way to do that is to distort such things as the Law of Attraction, positive thinking, and thinking outside the norm of our culture by using the sweat lodge tragedy and focusing on the negative people such as James Authur Ray that use positive thinking for their own personal gain. We holistic believers have had to fight this thing for years. Sadly, it seems, that will not change for a very long time. Just because we see life differently does not make us fools, followers, or flighty. In my opinion, we are the direct opposite, thinking for ourselves in a culture that fears new ideas and ways of living.

December 9, 2009 at 3:08 pm
(12) hmmm says:

Negative power may be what propelled you into doing what you want or think want to do but which you have reservations on. But really, when there is doubt, don’t do it. Negativity should not be used to strengthen a decision, and negative power is not a thing a pessimist or self doubter should use or rely on to get things done.

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