Variations of Peale's positive philosophy run deep in American culture, not just in how we handle holidays and other social situations but in business, politics and beyond. Yet studies suggest that peppy affirmations designed to lift the user's mood through repetition and visualizing future success often achieve the opposite of their intended effect.
Fortunately, both ancient philosophy and contemporary psychology point to an alternative: a counterintuitive approach that might be termed "the negative path to happiness." This approach helps to explain some puzzles, such as the fact that citizens of more economically insecure countries often report greater happiness than citizens of wealthier ones. Or that many successful businesspeople reject the idea of setting firm goals.
One pioneer of the "negative path" was the New York psychotherapist Albert Ellis, who died in 2007. He rediscovered a key insight of the Stoic philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome: that sometimes the best way to address an uncertain future is to focus not on the best-case scenario but on the worst.
Seneca the Stoic was a radical on this matter. If you feared losing your wealth, he once advised, "set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: 'Is this the condition that I feared?' "
Good morning funsnow! Good article. I think the present approach that we need to somehow eliminate "negative" thinkers is a very dangerous approach to life. Think about it. We have companies that want "positive thinkers". So, then you have a meeting with everyone yelling hip, hip hooray and let's do this and jump in and spend a bunch of money on this project. Don't we NEED the "negative" thinker who might speak up and say "that really is not going to work because of xyz"? Life requires a balanced approach. And, not only in the work place but in life. It is fine to have your head in the clouds but you still need to keep your feet on the ground.
However, i don't really believe in "positive thinking" that is somehow "creates reality". Reality is reality. I don't create my own reality. I can choose how to respond to reality. If the glass is half full or half empty. I can focus on the good of a situation or the bad. But i don't "create" the half full glass. I respond to it one way or the other. And, sometimes one has to take an upbeat approach and sometimes not.
Good morning to you, too. And I agree with what you are saying. Create realistic plan and plan accordingly to best to meet your personal well being. And for me, when you have a fate of being who you are. That belief will guide you to the right path.
I think "positive thinking" has some drawbacks. In some ways it ends up "blaming" a person for their reality. As if merely thinking about puppies and rainbows is going to make everything better. Some people tend to use this almost like magical thinking. And, they don't want the "negative" because it makes them confront certain realities they might not want to face.
That is why you have to think clearly, and willing to pay for your actions. Acceptance is also key to better , your mental health. Knowing yourself is first step to reach a happier life. That I believe.
However, i have been around both ends of the spectrum. My MIL was the biggest debbie downer worrier. And, she never enjoyed anything. And, after my FIL died she was even worse. But, there are times you have to set that negativity aside. Like on Christmas, i understand it was painful for her to face those subsequent years as a widow. However, for the sake of the grandchildren, at least on Christmas day you need to set your pain aside for the sake of the joy of others. She was never able to do that unlike my own mother who made even the smallest things "special" for her grandkids. As a result, they have very warm memories of my mom but very little memory of MIL.