Why Positive Can Be Negative

Recently I have found myself in conversations with people about the power of positive thinking. I love positive psychology, especially as it relates to sports and performance, and believe it is important in every area of life helping us live happier and healthier lives. Positive thinking is an important factor in helping us to see the good in the world, and let’s be honest, we can all do with a bit of that, right? However, there can be a tendency at times to confuse positive psychology with spaceology. The two are very, very different things. One is real, the other is not.

Positive thinking allows us to be grateful for the things we have and appreciate the world around us. Positive thinking can help us as we plan our future, fueling our decisions and giving us hope that trying to achieve our dreams is a worthwhile use of time, resources, and energy. It’s important to believe we have both the ability to achieve our goals, and that we are able to change our environment and impact the world around us.

Is it possible to have too much positivity? I would argue that yes, there are times when we take this too far, even to the point of losing sight of the fact that we can influence our environment. This is seen constantly on social media in comments such as “Karma will catch up with that person”, or “What goes around, comes around.” While I believe that what we sow, we also reap (we’ll talk more on this later in the week), I also believe that we have to sow, and simply hoping for an abundance to reap will not happen by magic.

There is a tendency at times for people to believe that thinking positively will itself bring good things, and this is where positive thinking can be negative. If we only ever expect good things, or somehow believe that if we have “done” good things (based on our own moral standards of good and bad) only good things will happen, we are setting ourselves up for a big fall. Life, and the universe, don’t work like that. Life will, from time to time, deliver us a kick to the shin, and no matter how much we think we are good and don’t deserve it, it will happen. The key isn’t to question why the universe allowed it, or to rest in some platitude that “everything happens for a reason”, the key is to taking a measured and positive step to coming out stronger. Positive psychology isn’t the belief that if we think positively only good things will happen, positive thinking is the confidence to believe in ourselves, believe that we can take steps to recover from the bad that happens, and change our world for the better.

Here are the three takeaways for today:

1 – Positive thinking doesn’t mean only good things will happen.

2 – Being positive doesn’t mean we ignore the bad things that happen, or pretend bad things can’t happen.

3 – Positive thinking is the confidence we have that no matter what happens, we can still recover and change our world for the better, for ourselves and others.

The sun shines and the rain falls on the righteous and the evil alike. Life happens to us all, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Positive psychology isn’t the belief that positive thinking brings positive results. Positive psychology is the belief that there is a point and purpose to our actions, we can grow in skill, and we can make our world a better place. Positive psychology is a fuel for action, not spaceology.

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