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Blast from the Past: Why Positive Thinking Can Get in the Way of Living Happier

This week we are continuing the retro-post theme. I thought I would share some oldies but goodies from the the archives.  This was originally posted in August 2011.

You have heard me say it before, but lately it has been creeping back into my world, creeping back into my client’s thoughts and words, creeping back into my friends’ wisdom.  The idea that we just need to think positive and all will be better.  Ugh! This thought drives me crazy.  Sometimes I feel like it is one of my life’s missions to rid the world of the notion that if you just put on a smile, and think positive life will be just peachy.  Yes there are times when we are just crabby for no reason; just ‘off’ and for those times putting on a smile can be helpful.  But I am talking about those times when we are hurting when we have pain, grief, sadness when we are going through a break-up, a death, a sense of confusion or a major life transition!  All of these are HARD they require struggle, tears, pain and grief.  These aren’t ‘buck up’, put on a smile times, these are “yep I know it sucks and it might feel like you are going to die but I promise you will get through this time”

We have all seen the people, people who we ask, “how is everything going?” (and legitimately care) and the immediate response is “fine, fine, everything is fine!” with a big fake smile on their face Clearly we know everything isn’t fine, but most likely they have heard somewhere to be positive and everything will be ok.

I am all about joy and laughter and smiling, hell my tag line is work happier live happier–so clearly I am all about being happ-ier.  But when we think that these ‘happy’ emotions are the ONLY emotions and that we are weak, pathetic and/or negative because we don’t feel happy all the time we get into trouble.  As a mentor of mine use to say, life is about experiencing a wide range of emotions fully.  So experiencing joy AND sadness. Laughter AND tears.  When we are trapped in ‘living positively’ to the detriment of experiencing any anger, sadness or struggle we aren’t living happier, we are slowly surely becoming a ticking time bomb of resentment and pain.As with everything life is a balance–it is a mixture of joy and pain; when we experience too much of one type of emotion we are definitely not living happier.  Any transition in life will require some sadness, relief, laughter, anxiety, fear and joy.  Whenever we are making changes there will be struggle but that is truly living and experiencing life which to me IS living happier!!

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