The Negative, The Positive, and The Spectrum
a perspective of free-flowing mindsets
Photograph by Author
Too often we are told it is our parents and their parenting style that shaped our mindsets and perhaps our personalities. Too often we are told it’s the mindset we cultivate that make us or break us. With all due respect, too often, I believe we find excuses for the way we think as we find it difficult to unlearn and deprogramme our mindsets. Of course, mindsets and thoughts are generally dictated by a medically diagnosed mental illness such as anxiety, depression, or schizophrenia; this is beyond any patient’s control and patients will find it hard to change their thinking patterns without counseling and therapy.
However, as a parent, I was told I needed to deploy positive-reinforcement to tackle many issues my then toddlers would encounter. The term sounded foreign, as my generation had more ‘imposition- reinforcement’. Eventually, when my children got to school, I witnessed a total change in the way they were being educated. It was all about cultivating the right attitude for learning, rather than information overload for the sake of great results. It was all about the individual child being encouraged to adopt a more can-do attitude. I think when we were younger, we were often prescribed to do well as that was the recipe for a happy life, as opposed to cultivating a positive attitude for any outcome.
But is being positive the opposite of being negative? Please hear me out. We are individual complex beings with myriads of emotions and personalities. In fact, our personalities are not forever unchanging as we mature, learn, and experience life. Are we perhaps too often force-fed the concept of positive versus negative, just as we are sold the concept of happy versus unhappy as if these were products we pick from supermarket shelves? We are often told, just as we learn certain patterns we can unlearn them too. But, can we choose how to be?
Recently, I read something to my tween and it could be a good experiment for all of us. The idea is as follows:
On Monday and Tuesday choose to be happy, smile at strangers, and practice gratitude! Listen to upbeat fun music your kids would listen to and fearlessly boogie around your house! Come rain or shine, be a unicorn, and ooze your magic self! Be awesome and see who gravitates towards you. On Wednesday and Thursday be grumpy, scowl at the world, and blame all your troubles on the Divine, on your family, friends, neighbour, teacher, or a complete stranger. Blast Radiohead and listen to Thom Yorke moaning about how life has been sucked out of his body (ok I made that up!). Be grey and see who you attract in your greyness talking about troubles around us. On Friday decide which days made you more comfortable.
Tween and I then discussed on the benefits and cons of being too positive or too negative but came to the conclusion that really we have spectrums of positive and negative in us…Some good days, some less good, but perhaps it is our reactions to certain situations that make us fundamentally more positive and less negative or vice versa. We cannot possibly be either-or, we are mostly both. But our mindsets can definitely evolve with time as we choose which works better for us. If one feels more validated for being negative, so be it: others should just accept it or choose to stay away?
I guess it is not such a fallacy to state that we attract who we are.
To media or not…
Then tween and I thought that perhaps it is the general media and news that perhaps dictated how we felt, especially these days, with the pandemic and potential lockdowns in various parts of the world. So it got us to think about a completely alternative way of disseminating news and information. We thought of an idea of how newscasters could focus on more fun and cheerful daily accounts in the first 10 minutes of broadcasts, such as “Today Hospital X delivered 6 sets of identical twins, 2 sets of triplets, 25 boys and 27 girls. All fit, happy and healthy”. The first pages of papers could have more serene images and ‘No News’ news. Or just print more hilarious and non-offensive accounts.
Here are some ideas we discussed:
It could be an idea to focus on wildlife and the beauty that surrounds us, and report extraordinary events of various parts of the world. Celebrate life rather than politicising absolutely everything we do. Instead of covering the sadness around us, perhaps it is good for us to be reminded that there is more good than bad, more beauty than most of acknowledge. Cover what humanity does to one another in the name of compassion rather than covering hatred and violence. Do I sound totally out of my depth?
I know a rising number of friends and acquaintances who steer well away from mainstream news as they feel the effects of the negativity. I am not suggesting we all stick our heads in the sand either, but I do believe that journalists have some responsibility in promoting a balance. Bad News sells. Could we change that to “No Bad News sell”?
Perhaps we cannot always blame society or our parents for how we are; perhaps it is good to reflect on how we have become and work on our attitudes. Perhaps society & our parents were manipulated somehow to fit us in a mold as our parents wanted the best of us. It is something we can all ponder on and certainly no right or wrong or fixed answers.
A Share of Wisdom?…
From Tween’s pure mind and heart:
“Negative people have had had a troubled past and view the future as being uncertain
Positive people live in the present and see good in life and in everything around them
To over positive people, there is no such thing as bad…”
My cynical mind says this is utopian but we are all on a spectrum of positivity and negativity. But we can choose to be more of one than another.
Book Reference: The Art of Being a Brilliant Teenager