According to psychiatrists, depressed people are often those who think too much about how to attain success and happiness. People seemingly only rejoice in the success they gain and hardly accept that failure is also a part of life.

Trying to be “positive” can make things worse

Many self-help gurus recommend that we should always strive to stay positive and optimistic in all circumstances. Upon first glance this does seem to be good advice however, paradoxically, when we think too much about this, we can easily be led towards depression.

We are now drowning in an ocean of self-help books, gurus, and training courses, which all share the aim of helping you to boost your motivation and self-confidence. Many encourage the use of tools such as repeating slogans and mantras like ‘I am the best!’ and ‘I will succeed no matter what!’. One study published in 2009 by Psychologist Joanne Wood, found that positive statements have the power to create a hollow in the minds of individuals with low self-esteem and their moods can even worsen because of being haunted by feelings of not managing to achieve their goals.  

In fact, people with overly positive thoughts have been found to be more susceptible to mental illnesses such as depression. Why? The answer is simple and clear: When people are overwhelmed by positive thoughts, they will be likely to lose the ability to be well-prepared for unpleasant possibilities, adapt to reality, and unable to let go of their inner negative emotions.

Seligman and Brandeis University psychologist, Derek Isaacowitz conducted a study of elderly community participants in 2001 and discovered that optimists are more prone to depression than pessimists after experiencing negative life events, like the death of a friend. 

Negative thoughts could be a helpful friend

While it is affirmed that positive thinking contains both pros and cons, how about negative thoughts that we have been traditionally advised against nurturing? The truth is that failure and difficulties are inevitable in life but most of the time we want to avoid facing this. 

Sometimes, the darkest times can help us see things more clearly. The most painful moments in life such as illness, tragedy, or traumatic experiences have the power to open us to relationships and kindness’ that we have never experienced before. 

At times, difficult times can bring forth tremendous internal strength, helping us discover that we are not as weak or inferior as we perhaps once thought.

If you do not allow yourself to have an occasional and warranted negative thought, and try to be always optimistic in front of others, you are the one who suffers most in your resistance of vulnerability. 

Experiencing negative emotions is a step that we all have to go through on the path to happiness. Learning to accept and deal with every pain, failure, and difficulty is perhaps a better way to help you recover and overcome the toughest moments. 

Negative thoughts seem to play a role in balancing overly positive thoughts, just like flowers and leaves working together in harmony. We are strongest when we apply both negative and positive sides to deal with difficulties and failures in our lives.

(Polushkina Svetlana/ Shutterstock)

So in order to truly feel happy, we may need to be really ready to experience more negative emotions – or at least stop the constant pursuit of happiness and sometimes let the pain in.

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