I’ve been thinking about positivity a lot lately, how it functions in my own life, and how it plays a part in human history. I’d like to share some of my observations, not because I think I’m an expert, but because it might give you something to consider.
Let’s start with a fact you might not know: Being positive helps you live longer. There have been quite a few studies that show this, and logically, it makes sense. Less mental stress = less emotional stress = less physical stress. Reality will remain the same regardless of what you believe, but what you see depends on what you look for. See the positive, and it will jump out at you. See the negative, and that’s your existence.
Being positive helps those around us: friends, family, co-works, even strangers. We all know it feels better when someone lets us change lanes during heavy traffic, when someone smiles, when someone listens to our problems and tells us it’s going to be OK. When other people are positive, it makes you feel good!
And the reverse is true: Negativity hurts, both ourselves, and others. (But you already knew that.) Go on Facebook and read the comments under any news article (actually, don’t do it, for the sake of your mental health). It doesn’t take long for any meaningful conversation to devolve into anger, hatred, and name calling. The same thing happens in real life, albeit to much less of an extreme. We stereotype, get angry at people for minor things, and justify our negativity because we’re obviously right. We hurt others, and think it’s OK, because they (or somebody like them) hurt us.
Why do we embrace this kind of negative mindset? Look at the 2016 US Presidential election (or any political race for that matter). It’s easier for candidates to run smear campaigns, rather than demonstrate their own merits. We often (but not always), tend to look for things that confirm what we already believe, rather than objectively looking at the facts. And this type of thought process seems to be how most human systems work. It’s how we decide what to believe, what to buy, who to trust.
I think this demonstrates a key insight into humanity: We tend to look for the negative. Perhaps that conferred an evolutionary advantage to our ancestors, or maybe it’s more of a modern culture thing. My guess is that it’s probably a little bit of both. Think about this: When you look at reviews, do you automatically read the 5 star review or the 1 star? Which one seems more credible? Which one do you tend to believe?
I’m not saying being positive is easy, but it is a choice. Honestly, in my own life, I find it hard sometimes. It’s a fight, but a worthwhile one. Positivity is not operated by a switch, without effort, most of us seem to default to negative, hurtful behavior.
We all exist somewhere along the Positive-Negative Scale. It’s not one or the other; it’s a mixture of both. Assess where you’re at, and take action. Lately, I’ve been towards the dark end, and I haven’t enjoyed how I’ve felt. The world seems shittier, people meaner, and life more work than joy. Rather than continue this, I’ve made a conscious decision to push myself back to where I want to be.
The first step towards becoming a positive person is taking responsibility for your mental self-talk and attitudes. You have to accept you have a choice, and steer your thoughts in a positive direction. No one but you can do this. At first, all you might be capable of is just letting negative thoughts go. If you don’t dwell on them, they will pass. This won’t be easy, but you can do it! In time, your perspective will begin to shift, and a positive mental state will start to develop.
I believe in a collective human consciousness of sorts, not in the meta-physical sense, but that we, as individuals, have a small impact on our species as a whole. It’s like how cells add up to make a body. When one of us is a negative, hurtful person, the impact is felt in rings radiating from that individual’s life journey. The opposite is true: Be positive, helpful, kind, and loving, and those around you (and in turn, those around them) will be lifted up.
When I’m working on the Dawn Saga, I tend to notice these ripple-effect interactions between my characters. I think it’s made me more sensitive to them in real life. When the Breakers kill, or the protagonists help, those effects propagate and impact humans and Entho-la-ah-mines alike. We are all connected by a web of existence, although sometimes the strands are too small to see.
I’ve simplified this subject greatly, I know. Sometimes anger and other “negative” emotions are the correct response to a situation, but they must be used sparingly and only when required. They are powerful, dangerous tools. There is also a point of sickly sweet positivity where you lose all pragmatism. This too is dangerous. If we cultivate a healthy, positive default state, though, we can make both our own and others’ lives a much better place.
Remember: You have an impact on the world. You have a say in its direction. Think about how your actions impact yourself and those around you. Strive to be positive, but when you fail, forgive yourself and keep trying. It’s not easy, but you have the support of all the positive minded people around you!