The Negativity of Positive Thinking


"Ceaseless optimism about the future only makes for a greater shock when things go wrong; by fighting to maintain only positive beliefs about the future, the positive thinker ends up being less prepared, and more acutely distressed, when things eventually happen that he can’t persuade himself to believe are good.”  

 

- Oliver Burkeman

 

It's time for humanity to wake up from our positive-negative trance. 

 

Positive thinking is merely the psychological version of plastic surgery for the body. In the long term, it simply doesn't work, and only creates more suffering. 

 

Positive thinking is actually thinking that is totally obsessed with negativity, focused on negativity, at war with negativity... which is all very negative when you think about it.

 

Positive thinking is the ultimate way to distract and disconnect ourselves from our perceived flaws, imperfections, quirks, uniquenesses, the secret darkness that we try so hard to hide. We strive to cover up the 'bad' aspects of our experience without actually dealing with them, facing them, embracing them, healing them, loving them. We stop seeing the beauty, and perhaps even the awesome potential, in the 'negativity'. Reject half of life, and we will surely always feel incomplete. 

 

The 'negative' is just the aspect of ourselves in desperate need of love, not neglect or more suffocation. We may feel better temporarily by distracting ourselves from the 'negative', but there are no true external sources of happiness.

 

The whole thing hinges on a primal misunderstanding. The positive/negative divide is purely a creation of a dualistic mind. Thought divides light from dark, life from death, good from evil, the holy from the unholy, and then tries to heal these self-created wounds through more division, more war, more dualistic activity. But no matter how much mental or physical plastic surgery you undergo, you still end up feeling incomplete and far from Home. War cannot end war. Darkness cannot end darkness. Light is the only power. 

 

What if you are not the mind at all? What if thought can never define you? What if both the positive and negative aspects of life are allowed to come and go in the vastness that you are, like clouds in the sky, like waves in the ocean? What if no amount of plastic surgery, no 'perfect body', nor 'perfect mind', could ever lead you to your true nature, which is already shining in the midst of the seeming imperfection, illuminating the good and the bad alike? 

 

Positive thinking does not truly heal in the deeper sense of the word, but actually creates, and then opposes, negative thinking. 

 

That's the one thing you can be positive about.

 

~ Jeff Foster


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