Stumbled across an article this afternoon that sort of goes against the conventional wisdom I referred to in the Happiness Wednesday post about thinking positively. In “Finding Your Inner Loser,” John Cloud reports on a new study that shows that thinking positively can actually have the opposite effect by pointing out to people how unhappy they really are. (I don’t need to point out here, do I, that a guy with the last name of “Cloud” is perfect to write a piece reporting the negative effects of thinking positively.)
Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project would probably agree with some of what the study contends, which is that we can’t fight our nature. Instead, we need to accept who we are and how we are, and put our shortcomings into what the Time article described as a “larger, more realistic perspective.” (This is probably what Rubin is talking about in her 12 Commandments for Happiness, the first of which is “Be Gretchen.”) In other words, sure you’re not a rocket scientist, but neither are most people. Or, average is ok if aiming for perfect will kill you. And, I suppose, if you’re having a bad day, just have it — but don’t invite it to stay all week.
3 Replies to “Maybe all that positivity is wrong”
My present stab at happiness is to enter a profession in which people nurture one another aggressively and cry easily and unabashedly. … Aw, who am I kidding. I’m always happy. Even when I’m sad, I’m happy. Even when I’m devastated, I know I’m on my way to being happy. I recently heard about a PBS program that said happiness is genetic. Guess I’ll never write great like Tolstoy. Not enough pain.
yes, I heard that about happiness being genetic. Kind of depressing that we can’t work our way to it! But I think we can all tweak our natural state a little by accepting who we are, for starters (if we can figure that out) and loving what we have instead of buying into the culture that claims we aren’t good enough or don’t have enough or ….
I think you’ve hit it straight on, Renee. There are genetic components to it, but we do not have to be slaves to that. I think allowing ourselves our true feelings but also reminding ourselves daily of our blessings can be a winning combination. Doesn’t mean every day will be bliss, but seeing the glass half full goes a long way to being able to enjoy a nice, cool drink.