Harness the power of negative thinking to find true happiness. Taken from Oliver Burkeman's The Antidote
Psychology journalist Oliver Burkeman wants us all to start thinking
more negatively. He believes society’s obsession with positivity is
actually making most of us more unhappy. In his groundbreaking new book,
Oliver draws on personal experiences and scientific research to
introduce a new, refreshing way of thinking called ‘the negative path’.
The negative path is all about embracing those feelings we're taught to
avoid - failure, pessimism, insecurity, uncertainty, anxiety. It's not
about feeling gloomy but instead seeing the bigger picture by being more
realistic about happiness. Here are just five of Oliver's suggestions
for finding happiness using this method...
There's no simple solution to feeling content - it definitely doesn't
lie in the well-thumbed pages of various self-help books. 'This is why,
among themselves, some self-help publishers refer to the eighteen-month
rule', Oliver explains. '[This] states that the person most likely to
purchase any given self-help book is someone who, within the past
eighteen months, purchased a self-help book - one that evidently didn't
solve all their problems.'
'The effort to try to feel happy is often precisely the thing that makes
us more miserable', Oliver says. 'A person who has resolved to 'think
positively' must constantly scan his or her mind for negative
thoughts...[it is] exhausting.' Instead, see negative thoughts as an
inevitable part of life sometimes rather than ignoring, or worse
dwelling on, them.
That doesn't mean becoming pessimistic, but instead realising that
negative experiences are just as important for shaping our lives as the
positive ones. Followers of the negative path either develop an
'indifference' to negative thinking or events, embrace them as part of
life or re-think what it means to be happy. They don't strive to be
positive at all times.
Negativity is an inner feeling determined by your beliefs. 'Nothing
outside your own mind can properly be described as negative or positive
at all. What actually causes suffering are the beliefs you hold about
things', Oliver says. Your own judgment is incredibly important to
happiness so try to see distressing situations more rationally.
Learn to let go a little. 'We habitually act as if our control over the
world were much greater than it really is', Oliver says. 'Even such
personal matters as our health, our finances, and our reputations are
ultimately beyond our control; we can try and influence them...but
frequently things won't go our way. And the behaviour of other people is
even further beyond our control'. Acceptance is vital to true