There’s no denying that thinking positive is good for you.1http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/1467-8721.ep107705722http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/amp/56/3/216/3https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Charles_Carver/publication/239770780_On_the_Power_of_Positive_Thinking_The_Benefits_of_Being_Optimistic/links/5783c61408aee45b8442e934/On-the-Power-of-Positive-Thinking-The-Benefits-of-Being-Optimistic.pdf 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.”4http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1445-5994.2006.01194.x/full
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.5