Free Psychotherapy Thursday…Why You Are So Negative

Posted: December 15, 2011 in FREE PSYCHOTHERAPY THURSDAY
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I recently read in a book entitled “The Happiness Trap” that most humans have far more negative thoughts than positive ones. It was a legitimate study conducted by professionals and published in a peer reviewed journal.

We are by nature pessimistic, condemning and prone to complaining.

The human race probable evolved this way because negative thought patterns keep you alive more than optimistic thoughts.

Happiness doesn’t have much to do with the preservation of the species.

That explains a lot.

The takeaway–of course you’re a miserable bastard, stop pretending that you are not. Now go try to have a fulfilling life and stop obsessing on perpetual happiness.

Don’t give your thoughts a lot of credence.

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  1. michael rivest says:

    The evolutionary explanation is a valid one, Tom, but like most things taken as gospel from the world of science, it only partially satisfies.

    I agree that we mostly have negative thoughts but for another reason that is so counter-cultural that Oprah, were she to read this, would have projectile diarrhea. Life is hard and, as we either experience or witness if we pay attention, dreadfully unfair. Things do not “happen for a reason,” and anyone who says, “You’re never given more than you can endure” should be beaten with the large polo mallet and left wondering what the reason was. (Or be made to listen to Elvis all the way back to Albany from Turning Stone Casino and KNOW what the reason was).

    On some level we know this is sadly true. The universe, as far as we’re concerned down here, is place where randomness rules more than any cause-and-effect paradigm, so whiny thoughts are never far from our conscious mind, and often creep in – even in the middle of sex (if memory serves in my case [I think it was during a summer month… but I digress…). The most we can do as honest adults is accept the thoughts as true and find whatever good and peace is thrown in our path from day-to-day and appreciate moments. Period. SInce this doesn’t work all the time, we piss and moan a lot, not just because we’re survivors, programmed by three million year of evolution, but because we’re not stupid.

    By the way, this is EXACTLY what the poet who wrote Job confronted when he wrote that little book that did rather well. His resolution was different, but not really all that much. – M

    P.S. I have an especially large polo mallet with Albert Ellis’ name all over it.

    • tjs9261 says:

      I also abhor the notion that “We’re never given more than we can endure.”

      Not all negative thoughts or emotions are accurate or valid. Our brains tell us a lot of crap.

      Life is unfair and quite often painful, no argument there.

      Accepting all our thoughts or emotions as “true” does not, to me, make any sense unless you have an investment in being unhappy.

      You not liking Elvis is a large part of the problem.

      • michael rivest says:

        Well, come on now, I didn’t mean ALL thoughts and emotions, for Elvis’ sake – simply that we live in an era where negative emotions are typically deemed reflective of a problem in the person, i.e. The need counseling. And I should think reducing one’s expectations to experiencing moments of peace and joy as their thrown in our path is pretty much a sign of being invested in happiness.

        No admit that you’re wrong,

      • tjs9261 says:

        You’re a douche bag.

        Wait, that’s negative. I’m sorry. My brain thought that.

  2. Tom Schreck says:

    […] other day I wrote a Free Psychotherapy Thursday blog about your negative thoughts and how normal they […]

  3. This is great, and strange in the most pleasant sort of way. My therapist has been referencing Russ Harris, and specifically THE HAPPINESS TRAP, in every meeting we’ve had for the past few sessions. Guess this is a sign–or something. I’m getting this book.

    • tjs9261 says:

      There are no coincidences, right?
      And BTW–the BEST self-help in terms of practical application that this neurotic has ever read…

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