It might be time to ditch those rose coloured glasses.
Ever been told by a well-meaning friend or co-worker to think positive when you’re in the middle of a crisis? If you’re like me you’ve contemplated throttling them upon hearing their unsolicited advice.
In fact I’m not alone; research is starting to show that positive thinking can actually have the reverse affect on people looking to achieve their goals. Study after study shows pessimists have it going on. They tend to have improved memory; mental accuracy and can create more persuasive arguments than those in the “positive” camp.
One of the reasons we have emotions in the first place is to help us evaluate our experiences. When we find ways to accept the “negative” like failure, pessimism, insecurity, and uncertainty we generate a more positive outcome.
I know this seems crazy doesn’t it? For years Oprah and other guru-esque people have been extolling the virtue of being positive. Now don’t get me wrong putting a little positive spin on things never hurt anyone. Being positive can benefit our mental health and elevate our sense of satisfaction in life. Using positive thinking only gets us in to trouble when we wear our rose coloured glasses consistently and begin to ignore the signs around us or become complacent. One researcher even found that people who felt they could only think positively actually had more negative thoughts then the average person as they tried to flip this emotion on its head moment after moment.
The Positive and Negative Camps
Together let’s wrap our heads around this; we have two camps “ +” and the “-“. Imagine both groups have a goal of launching a new business. Let’s look at their individual approaches:
The Negative camp automatically has a pessimistic view of building this business and will tend to think more carefully when feeling anxious about decisions or uncharted territory. This emotion forces them to lower the expectations and work harder to ensure that negative outcomes don’t come to pass.
The Positive clan follows their dream relentlessly, surrounding themselves with people who support them. Their outlook is if they give it their all things will fall into place. This thinking is akin to wearing blinders; they’re unable to see when its time to cut there loses. A bad idea is still a bad idea even if you think about it positively.
Is there a correct reaction, which emotion should we choose? At the end of the day its all about balance.
Rose Coloured Glasses and Reality
Reality is bad things happen to good people. It’s wonderful to find the light in a situation or think happy thoughts. But positive thinking works best when hand in hand with common sense and practicality.
When we have the capacity to look at the situation from both camps negative and positive without fixating on either emotion we have the ability to see the truth in any given situation.
Has positive thinking ever gotten you into trouble?