The Pervasiveness of Negativity

By Dianne P. Collins

The happiness of your life

Depends on the quality of your thoughts

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180)

In the world around us we are constantly exposed to negativity. In my opinion there ought to be a “Health Hazard!” warning given before the video presentation of some of the political speeches in the current United States presidential elections. These politicians often resort to negative statements as they prey on the fears of the electorate, implying that the country will be doomed if their political opponent gains the presidency. The negative scenarios are scary. They conjure up fearsome thoughts in the minds of the unwary, and spur unruly minds into negative actions. These thoughts may also have disturbing influences on health and well being of otherwise normal citizens.

On another level, children are often subjected to negative statements when they are growing up. For example, they aren’t smart enough, pretty enough etc. The constant repetition of negative statements like these can become self-fulfilling prophecies that become internalized and can cause a child to develop an inferiority complex. As a result, their mental and emotional growth can become stunted. On the other hand another child with a higher self esteem will rise above this state of affairs and the perpetrator(s) will have little or no affect on the child. Negativity is restrictive and positivity is expansive, creative.

I am presenting two scenarios which illustrate the power of negative thoughts:

The first scenario involves a person who wakes up in the morning preparing to go to work, they accidentally break something and immediately the person is convinced that they are going to have a bad day. The person arrives at work in a bad mood and a colleague may ask what is wrong. The person may reply “Everything is going bad today”, and so the day turns out to be bad as surmised. Sometimes people make mountains out of mole hills.

The second scenario involves someone who is in a bad mood as something in their life is not going right. Friends try to coax this person to go out for a change of scenery. The person replies “I don’t want to I am in a bad mood”. So this person would rather stay home and wallow in misery, rather than going out and possibly gain a different perspective on their issue(s).

It has been shown by research that negativity is detrimental to our well being, thoughts affect our body chemistry, our immune system. The constant stress causes the levels of the stress hormone cortisol to rise and then the immune system becomes compromised and illness normally follows. Research has proven that optimists live longer than pessimists. Optimists have a zest for life and for the most part deal with anything that life throws at them, without feeling the hapless victim. Our thoughts are things and can affect us for good or bad. Life has its ups and downs, ultimately developing a spiritual practice and other coping mechanisms can help us in dealing with the vicissitudes of every day existence. This has been my solution. We can empower ourselves to overcome negativity, by awareness of our thoughts and the affect they have on us and our relationships with other people. If we change our thoughts we change ourselves, our lives.

I am not inspired by the negativity in the speeches of the current presidential candidates in the U.S. I remember as a child watching some of the late President Kennedy’s speeches and I was awe inspired not only by his words, but by the way he said them. “Let us never negotiate out of fear but let us never fear to negotiate”.