I often talk about focusing on the positive, on what’s already working, as a successful strategy to achieve whatever your goal may be. There’s a danger of taking this too far, though.
Some self-styled gurus maintain that all negativity is detrimental and should be avoided at all costs. People put enormous pressure on themselves trying to be always positive and suppress any other thoughts or feelings. That’s neither realistic nor healthy.
Since my own work is about centering one’s life around passion and joy, I believe it’s my responsibility to clarify.
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The concept of dynamic balance
Dynamic balance is a term I borrowed from science. It means that balance isn’t necessarily a never-changing state, but may be a balance between variances to either side. Instead of always positive, you’re sometimes up and sometimes down.
If you’re sad or grieving, it isn’t constructive to feel like a failure for experiencing what every human experiences at times. Acknowledge what’s going on, sit with it, talk about it – do whatever nourishes you (up to and including therapy).
Then why focus on the positive?
We’re programmed by nature to pay more attention to the negative (this is a survival mechanism). It takes effort to counteract this and get into the habit of finding the silver lining. Here are three steps you can take:
- Remember, you’re not your thoughts or your feelings. They may feel like your only reality, but they’re not all you are.
- Limit your exposure to media, including social media.
- Develop routines to make a positive focus easier: Gratitude, mindfulness meditations, theta waves.
It’s work – like pedalling a bicycle uphill – but it does get easier as you develop the habit. Passions can help you return to joy over and over again, every time life throws you a curveball.