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Crowan
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From the New Statesman: [url]The Happiness Conspiracy[/url]

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amy green
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Hmmm...well I now have an ingrained positive mindset and think Brian Appleyard has a bias towards pessimism in his appraisal.

It's not so much about "mustn't grumble" but being able to see what may be good about a potentially dire situation. That is a saving grace and a talent!

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see" (Henry D. Thoreau)

Positive thinking has its flaws - just as pessimism does - so everything in moderation might be a more fruitful/beneficial way forward, i.e. not go totally the other route.

I guess those with a natural predisposition to be pessimistic might find that to think positive is a pressure! Change/redressing the balance often is.

It is worth noting that CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) successfully employs positive thinking in treating those who are depressed. I had not heard of this at the time I was clinically depressed but managed to transform my life TOTALLY by suspending my fatalistic mindset and taking a leap of faith; I was prepared to open up to the possibility of taking responsibility for how I felt - freewill - and, inherent within that, is the cornerstone of positive thinking. Never looked back - that was some 3 decades ago.

It would appear that Brian Appleyard is more into "every silver lining has a cloud" mentality. His choice.

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Crowan
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Hmmm...well I now have an ingrained positive mindset and think Brian Appleyard has a bias towards pessimism in his appraisal.

Yes, but everyone has biases – just as you are biased towards positive thinking. He isn’t trying to hide that.

It's not so much about "mustn't grumble" but being able to see what may be good about a potentially dire situation. That is a saving grace and a talent!
"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see" (Henry D. Thoreau)
Positive thinking has its flaws - just as pessimism does - so everything in moderation
might be a more fruitful/beneficial way forward, i.e. not go totally the other route.
I guess those with a natural predisposition to be pessimistic might find that to think positive is a pressure! Change/redressing the balance often is.
It is worth noting that CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) successfully employs positive thinking in treating those who are depressed. I had not heard of this at the time I was clinically depressed but managed to transform my life TOTALLY by suspending my fatalistic mindset and taking a leap of faith; I was prepared to open up to the possibility of taking responsibility for how I felt - freewill - and, inherent within that, is the cornerstone of positive thinking. Never looked back - that was some 3 decades ago.
It would appear that Brian Appleyard is more into "every silver lining has a cloud" mentality. His choice.

I don’t disagree with everything you say (I realise that you may not believe this;) ) but I’d find your arguments more convincing if you engaged with the points that Brian Appleyard makes. You sound as if you think everyone should try to be ‘positive’ – which is what the article is arguing against. We are all different.

Two bits I found interesting were:
First - My friend delights in life precisely because he expects nothing of it. If he happens upon something good or beautiful, then it is a bonus, a miracle. His days are full of discoveries and consolations.
I can relate to this, as it’s pretty much how I go through life. No disappointments this way. Think how many people post on HP something like, ‘I expected better. I’m so disappointed’.

And second - The “Like” button on Facebook is one weapon of the neos. As a University of Leicester study found, it “directs debate on the social media platform in the direction of the blandly positive” Don't you find this a little worrying?

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amy green
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Oh I forgot to add about Twitter....he has overlooked how menacing Twitter has become, i.e. how troll-like! This is the undisputed dark side of pessimism surely?

I find it odd that some cannot see the beneficial aspect of trying to see the good in what life presents....obviously you can be determined to be miserable but, if you see the lesson, the possible 'gift' there, it is definitely an asset and makes for a more joyful, buoyant life - less beaten down by life. Even coming close to death for me had its profound upside, i.e. being very grateful to be alive...something that I still have not taken for granted some 4 decades on now.

However, I will share a reservation of the positive mindset that some new agers have. I frequent a spiritual chat room and a few there will not tolerate any negativity whatsoever. Sometimes this can be to the detriment of working on something, i.e. sharing, exploring and (if allowed) healing from it. It's akin to head in the sand or fingers in the ears going "la la la". That is the extreme end of positivity though.

However, at the extreme end of pessimism many undesirable states may be found, e.g. deep depression which I was very fortunate to escape from.

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Crowan
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I find it odd that some cannot see the beneficial aspect of trying to see the good in what life presents....obviously you can be determined to be miserable but, if you see the lesson, the possible 'gift' there, it is definitely an asset and makes for a more joyful, buoyant life - less beaten down by life. Even coming close to death for me had its profound upside, i.e. being very grateful to be alive...something that I still have not taken for granted some 4 decades on now.

This is what I meant when I said,

You sound as if you think everyone should try to be ‘positive’ – which is what the article is arguing against. We are all different.

Just because something is good for you doesn’t make it right for everyone.

However, at the extreme end of pessimism many undesirable states may be found, e.g. deep depression which I was very fortunate to escape from.

The writer makes it clear that pessimism and depression are quite different.

What did you think about
“My friend delights in life precisely because he expects nothing of it. If he happens upon something good or beautiful, then it is a bonus, a miracle. His days are full of discoveries and consolations.”? Could you see the benefit of this way of thinking? Or is it alien to you?

I ask partly because it may well be that we mean different things by ‘pessimism’ and ‘optimism’. Could you explain what you mean by ‘positive thinking’ – give an example or two, maybe?

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amy green
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This is what I meant when I said, Just because something is good for you doesn’t make it right for everyone.

My point being that there is no reason to think there can be nothing salvaged from an awful situation.....often there IS something, but it can require looking to search for that. It's not about myself imposing my mindset on others but rather indicating what can easily be overlooked by a fatalistic outlook (which is what I used to have). Someone who just accepts/surrenders to a negative situation is more likely to render themselves a victim to it....does not have to be the case at all with awareness and exercising choice/freewill.

The writer makes it clear that pessimism and depression are quite different.

Optimism and pessimism are 'quite different'. Depression is something that can be the outcome of becoming pessimistic. Would you disagree with that?

What did you think about
“My friend delights in life precisely because he expects nothing of it. If he happens upon something good or beautiful, then it is a bonus, a miracle. His days are full of discoveries and consolations.”? Could you see the benefit of this way of thinking? Or is it alien to you?

Yes of course but that is more to do with being humble than bracketing it in with pessimism.

I ask partly because it may well be that we mean different things by ‘pessimism’ and ‘optimism’. Could you explain what you mean by ‘positive thinking’ – give an example or two, maybe?

I thought I already gave an example, i.e. coming close to death (nearly drowned). Can just be seen as an awful experience yet, what it gave me, was a delightful appreciation of being alive that has stayed with me.

A more simple example....a rainy day, so can't do what was planned. Having a positive mindset means turning the situation around and not writing the day off, i.e.
finding the positives - OK so I stay in....maybe get on with that job I have been putting off etc. Turning a negative into a positive is 2nd nature to someone with this mindset. I am a survivor, don't have a victim's mentality and am not easily beaten down by what life throws at me. That's just some ways it has benefited myself.

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Paul Crick
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Surely this is all down to the way we choose to be, for if we choose to judge 'what is' then we will perceive 'what is' and ourselves in light of the judgment that we place upon 'what is', but if we replace judging 'what is' and ourselves with accepting 'what is' and ourselves, then we are free to choose how we deal with self within the reality of 'what is'.

If our happiness is dependent upon 'what is' fitting in with the judgments that we place upon being happy, then most people will not have a lot of happiness within their life experience, but we can choose to be happy without placing a judgment upon anything, for in the absence of judgment we are open to simply be.

What we need to remember is that consciousness is creative in nature, thoughts always set about in a creative manner to make something happen, we create happiness in a positive manner, we also create depression in a positive manner, we create our general state of health and well being in a positive manner.

If we want to build a house then we set about building it in a positive manner, if we then choose to destroy the house that we have built, then we have to set about destroying it in a positive manner.

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amy green
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Surely this is all down to the way we choose to be, for if we choose to judge 'what is' then we will perceive 'what is' and ourselves in light of the judgment that we place upon 'what is', but if we replace judging 'what is' and ourselves with accepting 'what is' and ourselves, then we are free to choose how we deal with self within the reality of 'what is'.

If our happiness is dependent upon 'what is' fitting in with the judgments that we place upon being happy, then most people will not have a lot of happiness within their life experience, but we can choose to be happy without placing a judgment upon anything, for in the absence of judgment we are open to simply be.

What we need to remember is that consciousness is creative in nature, thoughts always set about in a creative manner to make something happen, we create happiness in a positive manner, we also create depression in a positive manner, we create our general state of health and well being in a positive manner.

If we want to build a house then we set about building it in a positive manner, if we then choose to destroy the house that we have built, then we have to set about destroying it in a positive manner.

I know you are big on being non judgemental but you use the word 'destroy' and say how this could be seen positively by the person. If someone derives satisfaction out of destroying something then, whilst I can accept that this is the case, it does not denote a healthy frame of mind. (Neither is pessimism in my view). Enjoyment gained from destruction is but a short leap away from sadism.

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Paul Crick
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I know you are big on being non judgemental but you use the word 'destroy' and say how this could be seen positively by the person. If someone derives satisfaction out of destroying something then, whilst I can accept that this is the case, it does not denote a healthy frame of mind. (Neither is pessimism in my view). Enjoyment gained from destruction is but a short leap away from sadism.

Hi Amy

The word destroy is a verb, it is a doing word, it is neither positive or negative in itself, it is only when people judge what has been destroyed or the manner that it has been destroyed that it becomes something that is perceived in accordance with the judgment that is placed upon it.

In the reality of 'what is' without judgment, something existed as something, it was destroyed in a positive manner and now no longer exists in the state it was, the whole concept of negativity revolves around a judgmental understanding, in the absence of a judgment, negativity does not exist.

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amy green
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Hi Amy

The word destroy is a verb, it is a doing word, it is neither positive or negative in itself, it is only when people judge what has been destroyed or the manner that it has been destroyed that it becomes something that is perceived in accordance with the judgment that is placed upon it.

In the reality of 'what is' without judgment, something existed as something, it was destroyed in a positive manner and now no longer exists in the state it was, the whole concept of negativity revolves around a judgmental understanding, in the absence of a judgment, negativity does not exist.

I disagree with your interpretation of the word 'destroy' - a dictionary definition is 'to demolish'! How is that positive? It is the opposite of 'to create'. Destroying a toy would be seen by most to be negative, destroying a building to make way for another one not so - hence context may be the issue here.

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Paul Crick
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I disagree with your interpretation of the word 'destroy' - a dictionary definition is 'to demolish'! How is that positive? It is the opposite of 'to create'. Destroying a toy would be seen by most to be negative, destroying a building to make way for another one not so - hence context may be the issue here.

Hi Amy

How do you perceive that you can negatively set about destroy something?

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amy green
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Hi Amy

How do you perceive that you can negatively set about destroy something?

I do not see that the destruction of something pertains to positivity in the usual context, i.e. destroying a relationship, destroying the atmosphere, destroying a good meal.

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Tashanie
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I disagree with your interpretation of the word 'destroy' - a dictionary definition is 'to demolish'! How is that positive? It is the opposite of 'to create'. Destroying a toy would be seen by most to be negative, destroying a building to make way for another one not so - hence context may be the issue here.

Demolition can be a very positive action if the thing being destroyed is the source of pain and distress. Destruction is neutral.....i is the intention that makes it either positive of negative in effect.

The same can be said of creation......it is the intention behind the act this is important.

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Paul Crick
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So let me try a

I do not see that the destruction of something pertains to positivity in the usual context, i.e. destroying a relationship, destroying the atmosphere, destroying a good meal.

So let my try a different tack, if you wanted to destroy your home for whatever reason and called in a demolition company that said they would plant explosives around your house and allow you to press the button that would cause the destruction of your home.

Can you press the button negatively, or do you have to positively press the button?

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Paul Crick
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Demolition can be a very positive action if the thing being destroyed is the source of pain and distress. Destruction is neutral.....i is the intention that makes it either positive of negative in effect.

The same can be said of creation......it is the intention behind the act this is important.

Hi Tashanie,

Please consider that the intention to create something is always positive, but we can choose to judge the effect that the creative process has manifested to be positive or negative, or we can simply just accept what is.

Intention and judgment are two different things, intending to create is not the same thing as judging what has been created, one is the start and the other is the end.

That is why I always say that everything starts and finishes with a thought. 😉

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Crowan
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So much happens on a thread when I go out for the day! (I am going to reply to your post earlier, Amy. I just want to think a bit more first.)

As for 'create' and 'destroy' - are they not the same thing? You cannot destroy without creating. You cannot create without destroying. (Think 'omelette' and 'egg'.)
We tend to see it as 'creating' or as 'destroying' depending on what we are focusing on and on what our desired outcomes are.

Yesterday, you quoted:

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see" (Henry D. Thoreau)

- but it does matter what you look for. Whether what you see is good or bad is entirely in the interpretation.

For example, the house being destroyed above might be seen as a good thing by the developer wanting to build a road, but as a bad thing by the neighbour who didn't want you to have to move. We use 'good and bad', 'positive and negative' etc., but they only have real meaning if we explain the parameters of our desires.

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amy green
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Demolition can be a very positive action if the thing being destroyed is the source of pain and distress. Destruction is neutral.....i is the intention that makes it either positive of negative in effect.

The same can be said of creation......it is the intention behind the act this is important.

Yes I did say it depended on context.

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amy green
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So let me try a

So let my try a different tack, if you wanted to destroy your home for whatever reason and called in a demolition company that said they would plant explosives around your house and allow you to press the button that would cause the destruction of your home.

Can you press the button negatively, or do you have to positively press the button?

I think I have already answered this, i.e. if the context/outcome is desirable/favourable/constructive then this colours the situation.

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Crowan
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Optimism and pessimism are 'quite different'. Depression is something that can be the outcome of becoming pessimistic. Would you disagree with that?

Yes. I’m not saying 100%, because you are speaking from your own experience and you are clearly self-aware about this, but from my personal experience and from the clients who have come to me for help with their depression and from what I have read, I would say the opposite is true. That depression can, more often, be the outcome of optimism.

Without prejudice (pre-judgement), neither optimism nor pessimism are desired. Neither is good and neither is bad. Some people are more inclined (through nature, possibly, certainly through nurture) to one or the other. But there is a tendency at the moment for ‘positive thinking’ and optimism to be seen as good and, therefore, pessimism to be seen as bad. Worse – in my opinion – is the tendency for anything other than optimism to be seen as bad also, so that complete neutrality (a state which seems to lead to more happiness) is seen as bad.

I thought I already gave an example, i.e. coming close to death (nearly drowned). Can just be seen as an awful experience yet, what it gave me, was a delightful appreciation of being alive that has stayed with me.

I don’t see where optimism and pessimism come into this.

A more simple example....a rainy day, so can't do what was planned. Having a positive mindset means turning the situation around and not writing the day off, i.e.
finding the positives - OK so I stay in....maybe get on with that job I have been putting off etc. Turning a negative into a positive is 2nd nature to someone with this mindset. I am a survivor, don't have a victim's mentality and am not easily beaten down by what life throws at me. That's just some ways it has benefited myself.

The rainy day is only a possible disappointment if you had expected it to be sunny. The lack of expectation takes away any disappointment and therefore any sense that you have to make an effort to be positive or negative.

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amy green
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The rainy day is only a possible disappointment if you had expected it to be sunny. The lack of expectation takes away any disappointment and therefore any sense that you have to make an effort to be positive or negative.

No it's not just about the absence of sun...I qualified what I meant by saying "so can't do what was planned". A pessimistic person might write off the day and moan.

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Crowan
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No it's not just about the absence of sun...I qualified what I meant by saying "so can't do what was planned". A pessimistic person might write off the day and moan.

Which is pretty much what I said. It is in the planning that the optimism or pessimism comes out.

What of my point of view that neither is as helpful (to happiness) as an absence of both?

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amy green
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Which is pretty much what I said. It is in the planning that the optimism or pessimism comes out.

What of my point of view that neither is as helpful (to happiness) as an absence of both?

Well happiness is an elusive, subjective quality. I would not prescribe a recipe for it since there are so many factors that may work for one person and not another. Ultimately it may depend on someone's disposition......some people enjoy being miserable!

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Crowan
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Ultimately it may depend on someone's disposition......some people enjoy being miserable!

Possibly. But that wasn't what I was saying, was it? Never mind - it was a good discussion while it lasted!

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Paul Crick
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I think I have already answered this, i.e. if the context/outcome is desirable/favourable/constructive then this colours the situation.

Hi Amy

Not really, the question was, can you press the detonator button in a negative way to destroy your house, or do you have to use a positive action? not is it right or wrong to do so!

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amy green
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Hi Amy

Not really, the question was, can you press the detonator button in a negative way to destroy your house, or do you have to use a positive action? not is it right or wrong to do so!

Well I think I will have to pass on this since it becomes somewhat nonsensical to use loaded words like negative and destroy and expect a non judgemental reply to be forthcoming.

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Crowan
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'Negative' and 'destroy' are only loaded if you make them so by reading 'good' or 'bad' into them.

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amy green
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'Negative' and 'destroy' are only loaded if you make them so by reading 'good' or 'bad' into them.

By loaded I mean already having a judgmental quality. I suggest you look them up in a dictionary if you doubt this.

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Paul Crick
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As Crown says, words have a meaning outside of any judgmental perceptions that we might choose to place upon them, if we have programmed ourselves to only perceive something in one way, then all other options are blocked from our thoughts.

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amy green
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As Crown says, words have a meaning outside of any judgmental perceptions that we might choose to place upon them, if we have programmed ourselves to only perceive something in one way, then all other options are blocked from our thoughts.

My point is that, if you are using the words 'negative' and 'destroy' in terms that are not commonly understood/defined, then you are redefining them as to render their terminology meaningless.

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Crowan
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NEGATIVE:
Adjective - consisting in or characterized by the absence rather than the presence of distinguishing features.
Noun - a word or statement that expresses denial, disagreement, or refusal
Verb - refuse to accept; reject
DESTROY:
Verb - end the existence of (something) by damaging or attacking it

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