Today I read an article by comedian Kitty Flanagan in The Sunday Age (Metro pg 36). The third paragraph reads ‘There is so much focus these days on being positive. I am not against being positive, but I’m not against being negative, either. Sometimes being negative is a positive thing’.
As a mindfulness facilitator and counsellor I see many clients who aren’t ‘happy’, find it difficult to see the positive in their life, worry about what may happen and focus on the negative. For them it is real, it is their world that they currently can’t see any differently. What I help them to see is the negativity, unhappiness or worry has got them thinking about change, that is a positive.
Is being positive all the time a realistic way to be? It is certainly a helpful way to be, but how realistic is it to be positive all the time. The reality is we feel both positive and negative at times, and respond accordingly. Over the last 12 months I have observed and become more aware of the saturation of ‘positivity’ posts on Facebook and wonder whether the expectation is greater to always be positive. A negative connotation with anything then is shunned and must be overridden with positivity immediately. I can also understand the power of negativity and that it can stop us in our tracks, but I’m not convinced that ignoring it by saturated positivity is the answer.
As mentioned, having a positive outlook is a helpful and pleasant way to be and feel, but we can’t ignore the negativity when it’s there, we can acknowledge it as unhelpful or unpleasant, but acknowledge it all the same. One of the many things I have learned by studying Mindfulness is ‘it is what it is’. Merely observing and noticing what is happening in our feelings, thoughts and mindset – not attaching to them so it can be what it is. We tend to push away and resist the negative and want to savour and keep the positive. Change is inevitable, every moment is different, there is always change, nothing says the same – so to be positive all the time, isn’t realistic.
When reading the third paragraph – ‘there is so much focus these days on being positive’, I smiled to myself in agreement and now wonder how many others read that and thought the same. It highlighted the wonderment of mindfulness for me and how beneficial it is to practice and be in the moment and that positivity plays a role not the only role.
Yours in good health and positivity with a little sprinkle of reality
Counsellor and facilitator