I was looking again at a NYTimes article about turning negative thinkers into positive ones.  I liked that the article not only described the benefits of positive emotions, and the hazards of negative emotions, but then discussed strategies to foster positive thinking.

Negative thinking can affect the amygdyla, which can increase health problems.  Positive thinking can help heart rate, blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and other biolological effects, in addition to psychological effects of a can-do attitude.

Not in the article, sometimes we need to not read too much negativity, and avoid too much interaction with negative, pessimistic people, because they drag you down without helping to find a light at the end of the tunnel.  Then it's time to skip  that link, or read something else.   Sometimes we can't help but look at a train wreck, but it's usually better, to seek other excitement.  That includes our own thoughts - sometimes venting has a place, but sometimes the more negative things we express, the worse we can feel.  Sometimes, gallows humor has a place, but sometimes we have to actively re-route our thoughts to a happier place.

I have been through many challenges and hardships in my own life, and have also had successes that I could not have expected.  There has been much grief, and loneliness, and much comaraderie, friendship, and sometimes love.   It's hard to see the positive during tragedies and oppression, and bad events, but sometimes we can light a light and start to see things differently, and start working again on a better life. 

We only live once.  Life is short, and there is much tragedy.  There can also be much joy. 

"When you go home, fill the house with joy so that the light of it will stream out the windows and doors and illuminate even the darkness. It is just as easy that way as any in the world."

- Robert Green Ingersoll

and my favorite, always,

Happiness is the only good. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so.”

- Robert Green Ingersoll

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Daniel, a negative thinker can become a positive thinker, but it's a BELIEF I have about myself, and only about myself.

I chuckled as I wrote the above because I had been an agnostic for twelve years when the change happened. The fuzzy-minded thinking I was doing enabled me to describe the change as a near-religious experience.

Forty more years passed before I started a transition to atheism and had to do some more exacting thinking.

Now, for that BELIEF to qualify as KNOWLEDGE I would, for starters, need:
1) criteria to reliably distinguish negative thinkers from positive thinkers,
2) information about the behaviors of people before and after the change, and
3) processes that would enable others to reach similar conclusions.

I will undertake the research in a future life. :-))

>Now, for that BELIEF to qualify as KNOWLEDGE I would, for starters, need:

Tom, you're an idolator worshipping the golden calf of knowledge. If you think knowledge is something belief should aspire to, instead of wasting your time in physics you should have studied marketing. Give me a break. Belief runs the world. Knowledge ain't shit. It's belief that shapes individual lives and it's belief that shapes local and national life. And that's fucking scary. Have I mentioned lately how fucked we are?

At the same time, I really like Daniel's message that at any given moment, a positive response is probably the best choice. Every point noted in the post can be an effective step toward becoming a better and happier person. For some reason inexplicable to me, that doesn't seem to be what some people want. As the plaintive cry goes, Why can't we all just get along?

It seems to me that Ingersoll had a very deep wisdom.

Aw-ww, Bert. You believe you are fucked; I know you are fucked.

You're right; knowledge ain't shit. An hour ago I saw a reprint of Einstein's 1939 letter to FDR. He believed fission would release energy. Others turned his belief to knowledge and, killing 140,000 more Japanese, ended a war.

For some reason inexplicable to me, ....

What's inexplicable to you is that negative folk see nothing positive in Daniel's message.

I accept that negative people will see nothing benefical in cultivating positive emotions.

I also think that all of those listed strategies, for nurturing a positive attitude, are good general advice for living well.  I dont know why some people want to be unhappy, or want others to be unhappy, but that is sometimes human nature. 

That's why I sometimes need to make choices about my readings and interpersonal interactions.  If someone is always negative, and that negativity makes me feel bad, then sometimes I choose to direct my attention elsewhere.  If someone is upbeat, and being around them makes me feel good, then I want to be around them even more.

Daniel, if someone is always negative, you can with much confidence bet:

1) they grew up in an abusive or violent home, and

2) they never experienced a happy home.

I was born into an occasionally violent home, to parents who themselves had been born into such homes and would have been happier without children.

I was a very negative teen and resolved to have no children. I married a woman who for her own reasons wanted no children. After we parted (on good terms), I had the great good fortune to experience a happy home. It changed my life.

BTW, IMO Ingersoll should have quit with “Happiness is the only good. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here."

It's most unkind to burden anyone with the responsibility to make others happy.

Well, you can be unhappy all you want. I was born into a violent home, too.So, big deal. You can duplicate that all you want. Who benefits? Who pays? 

You are a grown up now and you have the right and responsibility to be happy, mad, sad, afraid, sad, ashamed. Whatever you want to be, you can create it. 

Joan, private messaging is available but your anger denied you that option.

The body has a multi-stage immune defense system to protect it from infection. It is NOT a disorder.

The mind has a multi-stage post-traumatic stress system to protect it from harm. It is NOT a disorder.

A Dictionary of Psychology describes the stages. Briefly, they are:

Stage 1 is a heightened alertness to possible trauma.

Stage 2 requires an emotional distancing from trauma.

Stage 3 requires a physical distancing from trauma.

Stage 4 requires action of some kind, perhaps a sudden awakening from a nightmare.

I had PTS before I went to war 65 years ago. I learned of it 20 years ago and I'm in recovery from it.

You are right, it is all about becoming a better and  happier person.   I have had to cultivate happiness, and I am happier for doing so, and easier for others to be around.

And I agree with you whole heartedly about Ingersoll.

I've written a response to this several times and somehow it never got published, Probably because I try to write too many things at a time and accidentally erase it before I send it. I've changed my ways of trying to multitask. 

Of course, a person can change from negative thinking to positive thinking because both are learned behaviors! Often, how one thinks is an imitation of some family member; sometimes it is because of bad situations. Bad things happen and one chooses how to respond. 

Read the important research, Seligman's Learned Helplessnes, and Learned Optimism

"Of course, a person can change from negative thinking to positive thinking because both are learned behaviors!"

"Bad things happen and one chooses how to respond."

Joan, was it as easy for you as those two lines say? It was not that easy for me.

Oh my goodness, NO! it was not easy! Who said life would be easy? Being born is a mighty big job and the accomplishment. Learning to read and write wasn't easy and neither was geometry and trigonometry but they all can be mastered by most people. Finding the right partner for creating a family is not easy and many others and I made bad choices. Having children is hard and raising them to responsible adulthood isn't easy. 

NO! the test is not whether a task is hard or not, it is whether one takes on the challenges of life, how one makes decisions, what one does to solve problems and resolve conflicts.

For example, I was faced with a serious problem in my marriage. I had choices. 

1. I could have stayed. 

2. I could have charged him with crimes (that no one took seriously because husbands have dominion over wives and children). 

3. I could have run away (which everyone says "You can't run away from your problems."

4. I could become a drunk or a drug addict.  

5. I could have cried, whined, pleaded, begged, bargained, wailed, whimpered, implored, and appealed.

6. I could load my car with pillows and blankets for everyone, made boxes for my two mother cats and their litters, packed food for a 2,000-mile drive, filled my car with gas, packed the kids clothes and mine, and run as fast as I could to get out of that prison. 

Can you think of any other option that would be easier, Tom? 

If not, which one would you have picked?

Was your option easy to do? 

My option was tough, damned tough. 

I had a vision of creating a home where problems were discussed and debated and resolved so each was involved in the decisions. I wanted a home where conflict did not involve violence, each one had a voice, and where ALL the old rules were abolished and new ones created with which we could agree. 

Joan said: My option was tough, damned tough.

The calm of your words about it place it in an emotionally distant past.



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