Think positive; but, don’t fake it

There’s no denying that thinking positive is good for you.1 But, if you’re depressed, or simply break a nail, how the heck do you stay positive?

You could fake it. You could force yourself to smile. You could start a gratitude journal and then beat yourself up when you’re still depressed after a week. Or, you can think positive responsibly.

Yes, just as you should with alcohol, you should also practice optimism responsibly.

Often everyone from a stranger to your doctor, might rattle off, “stay positive.” “Yet, the meanings, expectations and outcomes of positive thinking are infrequently questioned and the risks of positive thinking are rarely examined.”4

It turns out that forcing positivity at all times, and faking it, has negative consequences. Which makes sense. If, for example, you bottle up all of your negative emotions, and force yourself to smile and move on, that is understandably unhealthy.

It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to run outside and yell at the top of your lungs if that’s what helps you. But, there’s a time for everything.

There’s a time for a good cry, a time to smile and love life, a time to drink a glass of wine if you’d like, and so on.

You don’t have to be positive all the time. You also don’t need to be negative all the time. In fact, I believe you should try to be positive more than you are negative. There’s just too much evidence and common sense that supports positive thinking and the good it does. But, the point is, you don’t have to force it or beat yourself up if you slip and feel sad/negative. That’s natural. And, healthy.

My personal recommendation to help fight depression, anxiety, and/or stress, is to have a balanced approach just like you should with eating and drinking.

  • Stop, sit, and breathe daily (aka meditate).
  • Each day, if appropriate, think about what you’re grateful for and/or what positive things happened.
  • Smile/laugh, if appropriate; only if you feel like it. A good stand-up special always helps me to get a good laugh in.
  • Cut out some negative things currently in your life. This can be as simple as temporarily staying away from Facebook if you’re seeing a lot of negativity there. I don’t mean to blame Facebook, but, I use it as an example because I believe Facebook has made my negative side worse. I’m trying to stay away.
  • Find a way to release tension and negativity. Buy a punching bag, or, as mentioned earlier, yell at the top of your lungs (only if you won’t disturb/scare your neighbors).
  • Finally, if you have a negative thought, that’s okay. Don’t judge. We all have bad days, months, or years. Don’t bottle it up. Express yourself.

There’s a common sign, quote, saying, or whatever you want to call it that I’ve seen. I’m sure you have too. It goes, “Live, Laugh, Love.” I can’t think of something incredibly clever at the moment, but, that should be changed to something like, “Live, Laugh, Love, and sometimes Cry.” Or, I guess you could say that the “Live” part includes the negative parts of life.

This is a crazy world. But, it’s also freaking miraculous if you stop and think about it. You are part of the miraculousness. Even when you’re negative.


Let your people go! (Work-life balance)

We work too much. Especially in America. “Work-family conflict is much higher in the United States than elsewhere in the developed world.”1

There was a time when people thought that as a country got more prosperous and efficient due to technology, citizens would not have to work as much.2 But, it turns out there are more factors involved than they thought, and so that’s not always the case.

Instead of the average number of hours worked decreasing, it’s staying the same or for some even increasing. And, usually, pay doesn’t increase along with the hours.

So, what do we do?

It’s simple. Take time off and don’t be afraid of losing your job because of it. Often, employers have subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) ways of making you feel guilty for going on vacation. Don’t let them do that. It’s easier said than done, but, if more and more people start to value family and time-off more than work, companies will have no choice but to adapt.

Any time you decide to not take time off due to a new project, or because you were just off recently due to a cold, you are condoning the company’s behavior. Nothing will ever change if we don’t change.

This same philosophy is true for everything, including world peace. It starts with you.

Billy is the creator of Ommist. He was tired of his life being so negative, and so he created a positive community.

Please try again

Hello, I’m Billy, and this is Ommist. You could say the re-launch of Ommist. Chances are you’ve never heard of Ommist because I just launched this community this year. That’s right, Ommist started this year and I’ve already changed everything completely. I’m sharing this because I feel it’s a positive message/lesson to share, even if it’s not a very exciting story.

I spent a lot of time on the previous version of this site. But, I wasn’t fully satisfied with everything. The other day, while I was attempting to enhance something on the site, something scary happened. I got a 500, internal server error. In other words, something I did broke the site. I found what the issue was and fixed it. But then a different error occurred. After a few hours I fixed that issue as well. The errors, and what I was trying to do in the first place, made me stop and think.

I thought about the fact that for one reason after another, I wasn’t happy with the way this particular version of Ommist turned out. I felt I was at a fork in the road. The choices were to leave things as is, or, start over, since I wasn’t happy with it. I then got to thinking that if I want to completely re-vamp everything, now was the best time to do it. The site is still new, not many people have discovered it, and so a complete overhaul wouldn’t have a major impact. And so, I did it.

By the way, pressing delete, and deleting an entire website that you spent months working on is an interesting feeling. As my finger my starting to press down on the mouse to delete everything, I naturally had some hesitation. It’s funny how easily and quickly computer code can vanish, yet it takes a long time to create something out of it.

I’m glad I took the plunge, deleted the previous, buggy version, and have launched what you see here. If you’re not a member and logged in, you won’t be able to see, but, this new version of Ommist looks so much better and functions much better. It’s fast and clean.

I do have a point to make here and it is the old common saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

Now, the slight waft of hypocrisy here is not lost on me. I know that, instead of continuing to try to enhance the previous version, I canned everything and started over. In a way, I didn’t “try, try again.” I gave up. On the previous version. However, at the same time I did try again by completely starting over. In other words, I didn’t get rid of Ommist completely and walk away. I knew I wanted something completely different, and so I’m trying again.

‘Tis a lesson you should heed, Try, try again. If at first you don’t succeed, Try, try again. 1Thomas H. Palmer (1782 – 1861) Teacher’s Manual (1840)

We all have heard the preceding quote or various versions of it. I never knew where it came from (thank you Internet). There doesn’t seem to be a lot out there about the author, but it’s from an 1840’s teacher’s guide.

The message is clear. Never give up. Try again.

But, I also think what Thomas meant and would agree with is that, the saying doesn’t mean to try the same thing again. That’s illogical. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to try the same thing again and again. Sometimes it does. Sometimes you need to go with your gut, take the plunge, and do not look back.

In short, when you’re not succeeding, sure, try again. But, after a while, you also may need to analyze if you should try again in a different way.