Everyone touts the “power of positive thinking” these days. Find the silver lining, focus on the good, spread the love. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being optimistic, joyful, happy, loving, hopeful, or positive…
…but is it good to always be positive? Is it healthy to aspire to never allow ourselves to fully experience the negative aspects of our lives?
People who are always any one way or another (positive, negative, happy, sad, selfish, selfless – you name it) have always annoyed me. (Ha, I just realized I would probably annoy me, since I am always annoyed at people who are always a certain way.) I’ve never really thought about it before, but was confronted about it recently, and I’ve come to a few conclusions.
First, it seems disingenuous to always be (or seem to be) one way or another. Is anybody really always happy? Is anybody really never happy? I can’t believe anyone is one way, all the time. So if they seem that way, they are either (1) faking it, or (2) only choosing to show one aspect of themselves to the world. Now, we’re all guilty of #2 at times. But there’s a difference, to me, between intentionally withholding certain information to skew people’s impression of what constitutes “the Real You,” and refraining from sharing EVERYTHING about yourself at ALL times. And while I certainly don’t begrudge anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable sharing who they really are with people – the good, the bad and the ugly – I prefer to surround myself with people who are happy enough with themselves – their flawed, imperfect, wonderful selves – that they’ll let me see who they really are.
And secondly, and most importantly, I do not aspire to be happy all the time. I do not aspire to find the good in every situation. I do not think the ideal life is lived in constant peace and harmony. I think some clouds are just big, shitty rainclouds, without any semblance of a shiny metallurgic lining. And I believe the Power of Positive Thinking should be used in moderation.
Relativity is vitally important to our experience in this world. Without cold, we could not appreciate – or even fully experience or understand – warmth. Without poverty, wealth is not a blessing. Without loneliness, what value does companionship have? Without lows, highs would cease to exist. I think when we try to insulate ourselves completely from the negatives in our life – either by trying to prevent anything bad ever happening, or by not allowing ourselves to fully experience the less-than-pleasant emotions that accompany those things – we rob ourselves of the full breadth of joy we could be experiencing at the highs in our life.
Perhaps some people think a moderate life, without extreme highs or lows, is ideal. But oh, no…for me, the soaring feeling of something wonderful happening doesn’t just make the lows worthwhile, they make life worthwhile. They make life beautiful, grand, substantial. I would not want to live a life in which I never experience the feeling that my body was about to burst with joy or love…even if it meant I would never have to experience a devastatingly painful loss.