Yes we all know that being happy is better for your health but it's not so easy when you're faced with the challenges of daily life. Does being overly optimistic mask a deep down frustration with the world and are 'negative' people just all being realistic? The 'lets all be happy' debate rages on in the media and I have to say, just like many of my clients, I can get frustrated with the demands of being positive.
Humans are a survival mammal, our brains are wired to keep us safe above all else, so naturally we'll tend to look for challenges/issues so we can avoid them....
My question is........does our natural human nature help or hinder us with our modern day challenges?
Personally I feel planning and looking at what might happen is an important part of feeling prepared but I do think it becomes a problem when this strength is overplayed and becomes a way of life, leading to overwhelming pressures, stress and anxiety. I think for most people optimism is something which requires practise.......
Research and science have showed us time and time again that optimism and a sunny disposition can actually help us avoid diseses, just like this american study in women, personally I've been practising optimism and gratitude since 2011 and yet whilst I'm finding it easier and easier it's still something I have to keep practising. Sometimes life is rubbish and science has proven that ignoring our negative emotions cause ill health and chronic pain too.
So in summary
If you're overly positive, you might not be addressing the underlying negative emotions...which can lead to ill health
If you're overly negative, you're not feeling the benefits from optimism.......which can also lead to ill health.
Haha, I love it when you can't do right for doing wrong........So what are you supposed to do?
Balance, for me the answer is balance. Find/learn appropriate ways to express those negative emotions then move on quickly and ensure your general outlook is one of positivity and optimism. For me that's the answer and I, in no way, underestimate how hard that can be to do.
My top tip to make it easier.....
The people/teams who I support suffer with the effects of change and trying new things, experiencing symptoms of stress, overwhelm and anxiety for example. I mostly find their general outlook is one of negativity, frustration and upset which then feeds their symptoms. The first step is to seek to understand.
Look at the whole situation and find out what's going on.
Nobody, including you, ever does something because its stupid, we are very clever human beings so there's a reason why you/they feel fearful, threatened or uncertain. By understanding that we often discover some ideas and realisations which will help move you forwards.
Mostly people are talked at and told what they'll do because people assume a hell of a lot. It's refreshing when somebody actually listens and seeks to understand, then takes your world into consideration before delivering their perspective.
And if you're working on something personal for you....
Take some time to sit quietly, after a little while ask yourself, what's going on with 'whatever issue' and wait for some inspiration. This may sound a little woohoo but it works. Your unconscious is 30,000 times more powerful than your conscious. It has so much information you're not even aware of....you just need to give it an opportunity and listen.
My final point for today is about pressure..........
It never feel's good when you feel you should do something. I absolutely hate how the media makes you feel you're not good enough or how you're doing something wrong by portraying one side of a debate. Yes optimism is good for your health but so is expressing your emotions. If you feel the negative side effects of either it means you're overplaying that side, stop it and find a balance, take time to deal with your emotions and top up your sunny disposition, you'll feel a whole lot better.
Until next time