I’m a cheerful person. But I don’t like positive thinking. It makes me cringe.
Instead, I try to spend some time every day engaging in negative thinking. For me, it’s a joyful meditation.
“What’s the worse that could happen?” is a question I ask myself every day. And then, I imagine it. I take some time to meditate on my own set of personal worst-case scenarios.
Taking some time to dwell on the negative every day helps me in four powerful ways.
1. I cultivate toughness. Strength of character is like a muscle. I don’t want my character to get flabby. By facing my fears regularly, I become mentally and emotionally stronger.
2. I prepare myself. Terrible things happen. There’s no sense denying this. When I imagine the worst, I take a first, brave step to confronting reality.
3. I solve problems. Instantly, my brain starts working on coping strategies and tactics. How will I deal with my worst case scenario? I start assessing risk and devising plans.
4. I feel better. Let’s say I felt upset before my meditation. But now? Now, I’m thinking about my future. And I realize I’m doing OK in my present moment. I grin.
At least, that’s the way negative thinking works for me. But I’ve been doing this for a while.
I know it’s a popular sentiment to encourage denial. Think only positive thoughts! Repress any idea that might be negative! But that approach doesn’t work for me. It leaves me feeling unprepared for any real world challenges I might face.
I don’t see the value of deluding myself on a regular basis. Wishful thinking about the nature of reality doesn’t help me when I’m faced with a real-world crisis.
To me, positive thinking seems like a balm for a weak mind that has suffered some kind of trauma. It’s like a numbing agent you take to block out pain.
I might need some positive thinking for a while when I’m sick or down. But I can’t take it as a regular practice. Not if I want to stay healthy.
Positive thinking is like booze or drugs. An occasional hit is OK. But I don’t want positive thinking to become a regular habit.
If the idea of positive thinking alarms you as much as it does me, why not try the opposite? Engage in a little negative thinking. What’s the worst that could happen?
Photo credit: OverdueBook
ps – Every sentence in this post is under 140 characters. Totally tweetable.