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The Limitations of Positive Thinking

Finding Balance

Both positivity and negativity have a place. We should learn to find a balance between the two.

Instead of focussing on positive thinking, we should hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

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The Limitations of Positive Thinking

The Limitations of Positive Thinking

https://lifehacker.com/the-limitations-of-positive-thinking-1780773724

lifehacker.com

5

Key Ideas

Positivity Could be Good for Us

Negative thinking can narrow our thinking and prevent us from moving forward. Positive encouragement can open our minds to alternatives. It fosters creative thinking and opens us up to take on risks.

However, pursuing happiness for the sake of happiness has been shown to make us more unhappy. The more we try and force positive emotions, the less happy we become.

Forcing positive thinking

Forcing positive thinking puts us under pressure and in an always-on-the-alert mode. We can never relax because a negative thought might pop into our heads when we least expect it.

It can make us feel more negative emotions and we may blame ourselves for not being happy enough.

We need some negative emotions

Emotions like fear and anxiety can help us to act in certain situations, for instance, alerting us to danger. Anxiety should not be avoided. It can point to an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

Thinking negatively can also help us prepare for worst-case scenarios in advance. However, too much negative thinking is not good for us either.

Avoid positive affirmations

Positive affirmations can actually be detrimental.

If you have low self-esteem, repeating feel-good phrases can make you feel worse. And for those with high self-esteem, although positive affirmations tend to improve your mood only slightly, there's no lasting effect.

Finding Balance

Both positivity and negativity have a place. We should learn to find a balance between the two.

Instead of focussing on positive thinking, we should hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

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Reframe or divert

The first step in approaching a negative situation with an optimistic outlook is to accept what you can’t change.

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Savor the good

Noticing and savoring the pleasant moments and thinking, "Wow, this is really great "can strengthen positive emotions.

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Set reminders

Write yourself a message on a sticky note and attach it to your computer screen at work (an inspirational quote, a reminder to smile, etc).

Small reminders like these help keep positivity front and center in your life.

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Subjective well-being

This is the primary way Positive Psychology researchers have defined and measured people's happiness and well-being.

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Subjective Well-Being components

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Measuring Subjective Well-Being

Tracking your own subjective well-being can be very powerful if you keep alongside a journal of your life's events. 

Keep it up for some time and you will see trends emerge. You'll also be able to adjust your activities in order to maximize positive affect and life satisfaction and minimize negative affect.

"Good" or "Bad"

We tend to view something as either good or bad. And most of us use the "bad" label more often than the "good" label.

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Don't apply labels

When people are faced with extreme adversity, some persons positively flourish while others fall apart.

Those who rise successfully do not place a label on what they go through. They take every circumstance as a given. It is merely something they have to address.

We don't need positive thinking

Positive thinking tends to separate situations in terms of good and bad.

First, you think something is bad, then you have to actively think it is less bad, but you always know you are fooling yourself. You don't have to go through life labeling what happens to you. Don't pick up that useless burden. You can de-condition yourself and experience less stress.

Lack Of Self-Confidence

... is associated with:

  • Depression
  • loneliness and feeling left out
  • Lower academic achievement
  • Lower life satisfaction

Self-confidence without competence is of as little use as is competence without self-confidence.

Self-confidence without competence is of as little use as is competence without self-confidence.
Building Your Self-Confidence

You become more self-confident if you become better at what you do. 

The process goes like this:

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Learn something new

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Individual happiness cascades through groups of people, like contagion. So make friends with people who live near you.

Embrace opposing feelings

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So don't ignore negative feelings. Embrace them--and then actively work toward overcoming whatever issues you face.

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Falling in love

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The Ideal Stage of Romance

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Something concrete we can change

We should stop trying to adjust people to circumstances that are not worth being adjusted to. If people suffer from stress in an organization, try to look at how work is organized and change it, instead of referring them to something like stress coaching, or psychotherapies or mindfulness exercises that are really just treating symptoms.

These sensitive, intelligent, resourceful people should be out changing the world, not just sitting in therapy rooms trying to improve themselves.

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Self-inflicted stress
Self-inflicted stress
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Managing self-inflicted stress
  • Use the 60-second method: Set aside 60 seconds of pause before doing anything in relation to what is stressing you out. Don't react.
  • Manage your time in a realistic way.
  • Ask for help and accept that you might not be able to accomplish everything on your own.
  • Acknowledge that your stress is mostly self-inflicted and make changes to fix that.