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      How negative should our thoughts be?

      I've been thinking about this a lot lately. The issue has been bothering me daily, about every time I'm by myself and start thinking. I've noticed that I tend to think negatively, I observe my surroundings and think about life with a sort of depressed mindset.

      I've been especially noticing people who seem positive all the time. When I try to imagine being positive, it seems like it would be so fake. It seems like there's some fundamental honesty in negativity that could never exist in a positive mindset. Some truth in depression that's missing in happiness. I've been trying to decide what this is, whether it's just a feeling; maybe I consider negativity so much a part of my identity it just feels more comfortable to be negative. But it seems like more than that. It seems like, while being critical and negative I'm able to think more deeply, more clearly, I'm able to uncover truths about things that I wouldn't while happy. Any thoughts on this?

      Where on the negative-positive scale should we strive for our thoughts to be? As positive as possible? As negative as possible? Some balance? What's the balance? Or should we just think however we automatically feel like thinking?
      Last edited by Dianeva; 03-25-2011 at 11:02 AM.

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      we should think critically, rationally, subjectively, or realistically.
      never negatively, please.

      but no one plans on thinking negatively, do they? the negativity you describe is realism.
      negativity would only see the bad side to something, while your version of realism sees all sides without bias. more clearly, that is.
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      Quote Originally Posted by no-Name View Post
      we should think critically, rationally, subjectively, or realistically.
      never negatively, please.

      but no one plans on thinking negatively, do they? the negativity you describe is realism.
      negativity would only see the bad side to something, while your version of realism sees all sides without bias. more clearly, that is.
      You make a good point. Of course we should think rationally. What I personally mean by negative is, for example, I'll think about death and be depressed about that, start thinking about tangents off of that. I recognize that I'm alive and that that's better than not having life in the first place, but my thoughts automatically run toward the death thoughts and not the life thoughts. I'm not irrationally denying the positive things, I just don't focus my attention on them.

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      A builder, a maker, is always looking for a better way.

      You passed up the truth of it, it is not about being happy or sad, negative or positive, but learning the underlying truth of things.

      I am almost always negative about myself as a means of trying to keep a foot up my ass. I would rather have that than stupid flattery.

      There is a way to be. There are standards to achieve. And, self satisfaction is nothing more than a death call.

      Being negative helps to teach you to ask questions. Eventually you may learn how to ask the right questions, which I see you have been doing. It will also help you to investigate many things, and eventually you will start targeting certain things to investigate and you may choose to solve certain problems, as I did.

      What I post is glimpses of things I found.

      It does not take any intelligence to break things, or to be satisfied with things as they are.

      Eventually you may come to learn a sad truth. There is a very fundamental difference between people, Kohlberg's six stages of moral development are in reality only two. It is a biological distinction which cannot be overcome by words.
      Last edited by Philosopher8659; 03-25-2011 at 12:22 PM.

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      Generally positive thinking with occasional cynical tendencies seems to work out for me.

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      Our thoughts are defaulted to negative. Our thoughts will automatically go to negative, because it's much easier. It takes work to create a positive attitude, but it makes all the difference.

      Remember you control your thoughts, it's up to you to have them be positive or negative, thus controling the quality of your own life.
      Last night I dreamed I ate a ten-pound marshmallow, and when I woke up the pillow was gone.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Dianeva View Post
      I've been thinking about this a lot lately. The issue has been bothering me daily, about every time I'm by myself and start thinking. I've noticed that I tend to think negatively, I observe my surroundings and think about life with a sort of depressed mindset.

      I've been especially noticing people who seem positive all the time. When I try to imagine being positive, it seems like it would be so fake. It seems like there's some fundamental honesty in negativity that could never exist in a positive mindset. Some truth in depression that's missing in happiness. I've been trying to decide what this is, whether it's just a feeling; maybe I consider negativity so much a part of my identity it just feels more comfortable to be negative. But it seems like more than that. It seems like, while being critical and negative I'm able to think more deeply, more clearly, I'm able to uncover truths about things that I wouldn't while happy. Any thoughts on this?

      Where on the negative-positive scale should we strive for our thoughts to be? As positive as possible? As negative as possible? Some balance? What's the balance? Or should we just think however we automatically feel like thinking?


      Being positive, doesn´t affect our honesty in how we see the World..and if you meet someone that is positive and seems to look at the world without critical sense, that is because, probably, that person created a bubble around itself and that bubble distorts all the inputs that that person receives from the outside surroundings. Generally that kind of people usually doesn´t last long, the World events smash theyr bubble and they get depressed. You can be a positive person and still be introspective about what surrounds you.The trick is hedony.

      Being positive gives you more advantages than being negative...we are what we want to be...

      adopted and raised by Ade

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      Plus, what you are noticing is attitude.

      The thing is no matter what happends, you have the choice to make it positive or make it negative. Over the last two years, I have been reading different books on positive attitude, and it has helped in all areas of my life, not just my sales career. Books that I would recommend, but not limited to, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, Awaken the Giant Within by by Anthony Robbins, YES Attitude by Jeffrey Gitomer, and I have listen to the original recording The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale once a month, and some times more ofter than that.

      It's Not about what happends to you, it's about how your respond to what happends to you that makes ALL the difference, defines the quality of your life.

      I spend at least 30 min. daily devolping and strengthing my positive attitude. Not hard to do, just cut out a little tv.

      Doing a little research, you will find that with positive thoughts, you can actually change how you feel. I played on the D-line varsity football for 3 years, scored only one touchdown of my entire career. You think I felt like a billion bucks when that happened. I can be sitting at my desk and summon the same exact feeling, just by thinking and visualizing. The mind is so so amazing.
      Last edited by theMagician; 03-25-2011 at 02:47 PM.
      Last night I dreamed I ate a ten-pound marshmallow, and when I woke up the pillow was gone.
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      I'm a very positive person. I complain a lot about little aches, pains and curiosities but that doesn't change who I am.
      I try to see the best in everyone. I'll make excuses for them to explain away words or behaviors that irk me. If people continuously wrong me or wear me down, I distance myself. I can go years without speaking to immediate family members (mom, dad, siblings). It's not because I'm mad at them or don't love them, they're simply "psychic vampires". Being around them, under certain conditions, sucks all energy out of me and throws Chaos into my mind. I loathe chaos.

      But, I understand what you mean about the thoughts. Despite all of the above, I have a very real dark side. In years past, I could lose myself for hours in daydreams about the worst of things happening to me or people I love. Eventually, I said enough. (I was close to 30 years old by that point.) Whenever my thoughts would venture somewhere negative, I'd tell my brain to shut up and I would have to make a very conscious effort to redirect my thoughts. I was amazed when I had to redirect them several times within 1 minutes time.
      It took months, but I eventually gained control. I had to be very firm with myself though.
      In times of stress, it's easy to fall back into the negative fantasies.

      Are you under more than the usual stress? Have you experienced any sort of major change in your life within the last couple months (job change, new home, new relationship, illness)

      As for negativity being more honest. ??? I think, to some extent, we chose our own reality. I feel it's healthier to try to see beyond the persona a person projects. I read body language and try to pick up on other cues that point to the motivation behind a persons words and actions. I try not to let others make me behave one way or feel another. That's not to say it NEVER happens, lol, but I try and am mostly successful.

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      There is that old saying that I think fits well. "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst." You need to have an overall positive view of things, and if you hope for things to turn out well you can keep going no matter what happens. Though it pays be practical and prepare for the bad times, because there will always be bad things and things that don't work out as planned. You can view things critically while still hoping for the best.
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      Better question to ask: what defines "negativity"? What makes your thoughts "negative"? Perhaps you're using a definition imposed upon you without even realizing it. Just a thought...
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      Quote Originally Posted by Zhaylin View Post
      Are you under more than the usual stress? Have you experienced any sort of major change in your life within the last couple months (job change, new home, new relationship, illness)
      No changes, and my mindset has been like this for years.

      When I was 14, I went on a trip organized by my high school to Florida, mostly Disney World. It was fun, and I actually found a group of friends. For the first time in my life, I knew what it was like to hang out with a group. It took a few days, but I finally grew comfortable around them. Then, unexpectedly one day, I was walking and talking with the group outside of SeaWorld I think, and one of the teachers asked to speak to me in private when we got back to the hotel. I went into his room, sat down and he started lecturing me about being too negative. He said he's overheard me talking to the group I fell into, and he's noticed that every time I say something, I bring up something negative. When I talk, it's to complain about something or bring up some otherwise negative thing. It took me by surprise as I hadn't noticed at all, and I was sort of crushed, and left his room half in tears. Ever since then I've had this self-consciousness in the back of my mind about acting negative toward others.

      Quote Originally Posted by Philosopher8659 View Post
      Eventually you may come to learn a sad truth. There is a very fundamental difference between people, Kohlberg's six stages of moral development are in reality only two. It is a biological distinction which cannot be overcome by words.
      Mind explaining briefly what the fundamental difference, the sad truth, is? Why wait for me to eventually learn something when I can now? If you have some great wisdom, I sincerely want to hear it.

      There have been great replies, so thanks. The way I think is mostly negative, but the way I act is I think neutral. I'm pretty antisocial and quiet, and act quite distanced. I don't know whether this comes out as rude or not. I never try to be rude, I just never put on that girly smily attitude and I answer questions straight to the point. I guess that might be interpreted as rude to some people, considering I'm female, although I imagine if a male acted in that way he'd be considered thoughtful and no one would consider it rude. But I really don't know. Other people's impressions of me has been something I've wondered for as long as I can remember and really don't know. I'm getting off track, I no longer know what I'm talking about.

      I've noticed that lately I've been getting angry at people easily, so in the last week or so I've been trying hard not to. That's something I'm glad to do because the reasons I'm angry at people tend to be irrational, making them into an enemy and assuming they have a certain mindset that, if I think about it, it's unlikely they really have. But what I mean here by negative thoughts is just a focus on negative aspects of life. Thinking about death, the pointlessness of life, all the reasons I hate myself, just things which are not irrational, just my honest response to my experiences, which my mind focuses on. There are things that honestly bother me so much I couldn't just choose not to think about them often without brainwashing myself or something similar.

      I guess I've been having trouble deciding how I should strive to think. Right now, the answer seems to be to think rationally, as a few people have said. Considering I don't think I can be one of those optimistic people without half brainwashing myself, I won't force myself to.

      This video is funny and relevant to the thread. It sort of expresses my point about positivity feeling 'fake'. I don't know how funny it will be to someone who's never watched AgentXPQ's normal videos before though.

      (Hey I just realized a comment I posted on that video has 35 thumbs up and a reply from the video maker! That's never happened before.)
      Last edited by Dianeva; 03-26-2011 at 03:46 AM.

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      I think it is important to explore all aspects of whatever it is you are exploring - both positive and negative aspects. Assuming you've exhausted most viewpoints, if whatever it is happens to be more negative than positive then you can't really help but feel negative about it. I'm not sure that we even have that much control over how you feel about something, it might be just wired into you to be interpreted in that way. I feel generally negative about our society as a whole for the reason that it's not a good one as a whole. I find it hard to interpret it in any other way. Like you, if I try to view it as positive I feel fake inside.

      With all that said I do have positive standards that I would hope humanity to reach by a certain point. However I've decided I don't really have that much of a stake in the outcome. It would be nice if they could meet these but if they don't the universe will carry on without us.

      [edit] Even though I don't have that much stake in the outcome, it think it is always necessary to strive for positive change. 'Cause why not?
      Last edited by SpecialInterests; 03-26-2011 at 07:13 PM.

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      not "negatively" but realistically
      From my rotting body,
      flowers shall grow
      and I am in them
      and that is eternity.
      -Edvard Munch



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      The human brain is made to think rather negatively. Otherwise we wouldn't have advanced this far.

      When you do something well, you feel good for about an hour or so, sometimes a bit longer, then you go back to baseline. This is so you will do well again, to feel good again.

      If you look at things negatively and that's it. That's not very good.
      However if you look at the bad side of things, and think about how you can improve it.... well, you are taking advantage of our propensity for negativity. Which is exactly why we have developed to be that way.

      I can also guarantee that almost all of the people you perceive as "positive all the time" are negative when they are by themselves. There's a very VERY small amount of people who are just constantly and unfailingly happy and positive.

      The trick is only to not be negative all the time. Because you should enjoy your life.
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      Quote Originally Posted by tommo View Post
      The human brain is made to think rather negatively. Otherwise we wouldn't have advanced this far.

      When you do something well, you feel good for about an hour or so, sometimes a bit longer, then you go back to baseline. This is so you will do well again, to feel good again.

      If you look at things negatively and that's it. That's not very good.
      However if you look at the bad side of things, and think about how you can improve it.... well, you are taking advantage of our propensity for negativity. Which is exactly why we have developed to be that way.

      I can also guarantee that almost all of the people you perceive as "positive all the time" are negative when they are by themselves. There's a very VERY small amount of people who are just constantly and unfailingly happy and positive.

      The trick is only to not be negative all the time. Because you should enjoy your life.
      do you think that processes like meditation help calming the mind and putting this into perspective, hence increasing positive attitudes?

      adopted and raised by Ade

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      Yes!
      Definitely. I always tend to start meditating every day and then stop and start again all the time. But I just did some meditation today and it helped me incredibly.

      Too much negative thinking can make you anxious as well, so it helps with that.
      But mostly, since meditation is basically - shutting up (stopping internal chatter) - you don't think negatively or positively about things, you just experience the world, as close as possible right now to reality. Which tends to make you a bit more positive than usual.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Surukien View Post
      do you think that processes like meditation help calming the mind and putting this into perspective, hence increasing positive attitudes?

      Yes, you become what you think about. Too much mental clutter leads to anxiousness, anytime we can calm that down and just exist will put anyone in a positive mind frame.

      It is also important to monitor your thoughts when not meditating. take control of what you allow yourself to think about, because whatever you think about will physically manifest itself in your life. Again, you become what you think about.
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      There's really no point to have a negative mindset. You shouldn't be negative at all. You don't have to be happy, but have a mindset other than being negative. Whatever mindset you choose, you become emotionally. So why would you want to become a negative person? There are better mindsets to have. Also, no matter what mindset you have, reality's still going to be the same reality; it's just that your perspective warps reality, and your perspective is all that matters, because your perspective is what life is through your own eyes. So might as well have a perspective that's in line with your interests. Just my two cents.

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      A lot of people mistake cynicism for skepticism and negativity for realism. I know what you mean about a certain clarity that comes out of depression and isolation, when you come out of a dark place into momentary calm, and even if you're not seeing everything more clearly, you're seeing the world from a perspective that not everyone experiences all the time. That state is part of the addictive quality of negative ideation and dark introspection.

      A friend of mine had a name for that kind of thinking which is pretty accurate and maybe helps offset the idea that it's 'more realistic': having your head up your ass. Actually, it was most often expressed as, "Get your head out of your ass!" directed at me I was quite the depressive adolescent and young adult, and most things that came out of my mouth were critical, cynical, or outright insulting. To me, they were just neutral observations, but ultimately they weren't observations about the world around me so much as observations of the inside of my own ass--the mindset where I was stuck and how things looked from there.

      When I started to come around I was doing sales, and self-help material like TheMagician listed did help me get my head around the idea that no, I wasn't at the mercy of my emotions and yes, my thoughts were within my own control. Meditation and Buddhist (and to a lesser extent, Taoist) texts and training brought me to a deeper and more genuine (not to mention sparkly ) 'realism,' summed up by the quote in my sig:

      Quote Originally Posted by HH the 14th Dalai Lama
      If you have a sense of caring for others, you will manifest a kind of inner strength in spite of your own difficulties and problems. With this strength, your own problems will seem less significant and bothersome to you. By going beyond your own problems and taking care of others, you gain inner strength, self-confidence, courage, and a greater sense of calm.
      Last edited by Taosaur; 03-29-2011 at 02:08 PM.
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      If you have a sense of caring for others, you will manifest a kind of inner strength in spite of your own difficulties and problems. With this strength, your own problems will seem less significant and bothersome to you. By going beyond your own problems and taking care of others, you gain inner strength, self-confidence, courage, and a greater sense of calm.Dalai Lama



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      I think a distinction should be made between happiness and satisfaction. If one is satisfied with their situation, they will not try to find better possible scenarios or situations. One gets stuck in a rut.

      The advantage of the negative viewpoint is the motivation of dissatisfaction; complaining about something will lead to doing it. You're not good enough at writing? You practice. You're not happy with your government? Start a campaign. Etc. This is where the "accuracy" of the negative viewpoint comes into play - it's always likely that there is something that can be improved, in the pursuit of perfection.

      However, if it's hard to change, the negative viewpoint is a drawback - for dissatisfaction combined with powerlessness leads to depression. So ideally the two points should be combined. One should be happy with the qualities already achieved, but not content with merely them.
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      How are we not a forklift? All that contraction and elongation to raise and lower objects...

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      Very well put.

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      Where on the negative-positive scale should we strive for our thoughts to be? As positive as possible? As negative as possible? Some balance? What's the balance? Or should we just think however we automatically feel like thinking?
      One should strive for them to be accurate reflections of the situation at hand, providing one is capable of using that information and handling the emotions properly. For instance, if a situation is crappy, then it's rational and realistic to feel negatively about it. However, if a person can't handle that because it's too much and causes them to fly off the handle into a depression, then a more positive mindset - whilst delusional - would probably be a better reaction. If a situation is good, it makes sense to feel positively about it.

      But it seems like more than that. It seems like, while being critical and negative I'm able to think more deeply, more clearly, I'm able to uncover truths about things that I wouldn't while happy. Any thoughts on this?
      Critical scrutiny is itself a negative reaction because that involves the consideration of the possibility that something is wrong. It's very hard to feel positive about that, unless one takes pleasure in proving something wrong, though there are times where this is the case, and is an understandable and reasonable reaction.

      Negative emotions also tend to be a motivator for change, which leads towards you becoming happier. If one is happy then of course one is less likely to think clearly because the questions asked might cause the person to realise something is wrong and thus lose their state of happiness, so there's less incentive to do it. Unless someone is depressed, I don't think unhappy people intentionally overlook things that will make them happy, whereas happy people do overlook things that might make them unhappy.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Photolysis View Post
      One should strive for them to be accurate reflections of the situation at hand, providing one is capable of using that information and handling the emotions properly. For instance, if a situation is crappy, then it's rational and realistic to feel negatively about it. However, if a person can't handle that because it's too much and causes them to fly off the handle into a depression, then a more positive mindset - whilst delusional - would probably be a better reaction. If a situation is good, it makes sense to feel positively about it.



      Critical scrutiny is itself a negative reaction because that involves the consideration of the possibility that something is wrong. It's very hard to feel positive about that, unless one takes pleasure in proving something wrong, though there are times where this is the case, and is an understandable and reasonable reaction.

      Negative emotions also tend to be a motivator for change, which leads towards you becoming happier. If one is happy then of course one is less likely to think clearly because the questions asked might cause the person to realise something is wrong and thus lose their state of happiness, so there's less incentive to do it. Unless someone is depressed, I don't think unhappy people intentionally overlook things that will make them happy, whereas happy people do overlook things that might make them unhappy.
      I guess I fail to see where negative thoughts and emotions lead to happiness. The secret to success... And failure, is that our lives become what we think about.

      All the great philosophers have all agreed on this one fact, we become what we think about.
      The very core of our experience in any given situation is our attitude, wether it be positive or negative. Now I know that it is impossible to always be positive 100% of the time, but in most situations, instead of choosing to be negative, we can choose to be positive and for the same situation (flat tire, unexpected expense, spilled coffee, etc) we can have either one of two experiences, ladies and gents, it is our choice. Yeah, things can piss me off, but why the hell waste energy on something I have no control over, rather, take control of what i can, my thoughts.... Instant feel good. The best way to tell if your thoughts are negative or positive is how you feel. Positive? Negative? The choice is yours

      Thoughts of constant fear, anxiety, confusion and worry... Life filled with fear, anxiety, confusion, and worry.

      thoughts of success, prosperity, and abundance... life filled with success, prosperity, and abundance.
      Last night I dreamed I ate a ten-pound marshmallow, and when I woke up the pillow was gone.
      - Tommy Cooper

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      I guess I fail to see where negative thoughts and emotions lead to happiness.
      By themselves they don't, but when used correctly they do by motivating you to take action. If I'm angry with my neighbour for example, then if I deal with the emotion properly it motivates me to handle the problem, removing the source of my anger and so making me happier. If I deal with it badly by smashing one of my possessions in a fit of rage then that makes the situation worse.

      It's a similar situation with feelings such as hunger. Being hungry is unpleasant, and motivates me to find food which removes the source of my hunger.
      Last edited by Photolysis; 03-31-2011 at 11:49 AM.

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