The Down Side of So-Called Positive Thinking People who see the good in situations–even bad ones–can get a bad rap. So do optimists, and people who are usually happy, for that matter. I once read an academic article on the dominant Western socio-cultural impression of a happy, bubbly person: stupid. The thinking goes like this, the author said: if you’re happy all the time, you must be naive; you can’t possibly be aware of all the trouble in the world, and the potential for bad things to happen to you down the line–reality–or you wouldn’t be happy all the time. It’s just not possible.
Phooey on that. I’m not talking about seeing the good side of war or poverty. But from a broader perspective, seeing that good things happen alongside, and sometimes within, these situations. For most Joy Yoga readers, this is probably not big news.
Powerful Vs. Positive Thinking The fact is that when there is war and poverty there are such acts of courage, of giving, of love and sharing. Anyone I know who has visited India, and come back in awe of the giving and sharing from the poorest people there, affirms this. I recently talked with a rapidly rising Vancouver chef from the Congo, who told me “Everybody in Africa is very poor, but people are happy. If you don’t have something to eat, you can go to your neighbours and he will feed you–even if it means he goes without the next day.”
My point is: I’m not a fan of positive thinking: trying to see the good side of all acts, even horrific ones. I am a fan of powerful thinking: seeing that good things happen all the time, every day, right alongside those horrible ones.