The positive thinking paradox
If you were asked the question, “is it good to think positively?”, you would probably answer “Yes, of course!”. However, it’s not quite that straight forward. As human beings, we often find ourselves caught up in self-referential feedback loops, and it is this we must be mindful of. There’s a subtle but important difference between having a positive outlook on life - an outlook that derives from experience and perspective, and the increasingly more common, narcissistic form of positivity, which is typically rooted in some form of self-delusion. You see, when you disempower the very beliefs that cause suffering, what’s left is positive. It’s a state that doesn’t rely on indulgence or internal monologue. Of course, i’m not saying it is necessarily bad to set goals and indulge in the prospect of a brighter future, after all, this is how things get done. My point is that this is not necessarily an effective approach to finding happiness.
So essentially there are two approaches to being positive; one approach is additive, and the other approach is subtractive. You can either mask the negativity with layer of positive conditioning, which is clearly not sustainable, or you can disempower the negativity, thus revealing what is naturally positive. A predisposition towards advocating positive thinking as a solution to ceasing one’s personal suffering is likely a predisposition toward re-enforcing a personal belief system. This approach will not make you happy in the long run, simply because you have to feed it. It will likely cause discontentment later down the line. Of course, the subtractive path is a much harder path to walk, hence why we tend to avert it. The subtractive approach is about confronting our ourselves, which can be a daunting prospect, and it’s certainly not much fun. It also requires a sufficient level of experience and a philosophical aptitude that is not easy to acquire without making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes. The thing about positive thinking is that, if you fall into the habit of convincing yourself that the next moment is better than the present moment, this will feedback on itself, and subsequently, your happiness will be projected further and further into the future. It is more logical to instead focus on gaining the knowledge and experience that can help you rationalise your suffering, and thus disempower it, which is much easier said than done. That said, meditation can be an effective practice for collapsing away certain negative beliefs. One of the things about self-referential feedback loops is that they rely on infinite growth in order to be sustained. It’s a bit like a stock market. When people stop buying, people start selling, and the whole thing collapses.
We are The Life Change People and we are based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We offer a variety of tailor made, life change holidays and counseling retreats. Please visit our website for more information. http://www.thelifechangepeople.com/
counseling-retreat/To conclude, the answer to the question about whether we should or shouldn’t think positively is paradoxical because although the projection of happiness is largely the cause of our personal suffering, if we don’t project our happiness into the future, nothing will get done and we will never acquire the necessary experience that will ultimately enable us to transcend our personal suffering. We can but live and learn.