Negative Thinking is the Key to Happiness
I know, I know. You think I’ve lost my marbles. Everyone knows that POSITIVE thinking is the key to happiness.
But as Dr. Phil says, “How’s that working for ya?” In my thirty years as a personal growth teacher, I’ve taught hundreds of thousands of students to focus on what they want.
Some of them report positive benefits.
Many, however, don’t. And, few report fundamental, life-changing shifts. So let me ask you: Since you learned that the solution to life’s problems is to “think positive,” are you happy? Is your life just the way you want it to be?
C’mon. Tell the truth. Like everyone else, sometimes you get what you want and sometimes you don’t.
Sometimes you feel happy, and sometimes you feel decidedly less-than-happy.
What’s going on here? Is the popular positive thinking, put-it-out-to-the-universe school of thought wrong?
Yes. And, no.
Yes, what you focus on hugely affects your life. It generates how you feel in each moment. It generates your behavior. It determines which people and situations you attract or are attracted to. And, it determines the meaning you assign to what happens.
Doesn’t this include pretty much everything in your life? What you focus on is very important.
Here’s the problem, though. Nearly all your focusing happens unconsciously, outside your awareness. Your mind automatically focuses in a way you learned when you were a child. The major internal activity that shapes your life, because it happens unconsciously, isn’t a choice!
Okay, Bill, but how does that make negative thinking the key to happiness?
Why do some people experience more bad feelings and more of what they don’t want than others? Some say it’s external circumstances, or just bad luck.
And though external circumstances play a role, considerable evidence suggests that most of what you feel, how you behave, and which people and situations you attract or become attracted to—and all of how you respond to these things—is the result of something you do inside your mind.
How you feel, for instance, is strongly affected by the internal representations you make—mostly internal pictures and internal dialog. Focusing, in fact, means making internal representations, which then generate how you feel, how you behave, etc.
When you focus on something you want, you feel good; when you focus on something you don’t want, you feel bad. Because this happens almost entirely outside your awareness, how you do it isn’t a choice.
When you feel bad, behave in a certain way, or encounter the same problem people or negative outcomes over and over, your unconscious focus is generating it. Not on purpose, and not consciously, but still, it’s coming from something in you.
Since the consequences are negative, why do people focus on what they don’t want? Traumatic childhood experiences create a belief that the world is a dangerous place, or at least a potentially dangerous place. To avoid that danger, whatever it is, we think we have to watch out for it—in other words, focus on what we don’t want.
Focusing on what you don’t want doesn’t just make you feel bad. In addition, your mind sees it as an instruction to attract or create more of it. This causes you to act in certain ways, and to attract or be attracted to people and situations that help make it happen.
All of this seems to contradict my statement that negative thinking is the key to happiness. Before I tell you why that’s true, let’s look at another type of negative thinking
You learned good and bad, positive and negative, from your parents. In one way or another they said, “To be okay in our eyes, don’t do this. This is bad. Instead, do this. This is good.”
The more they used negative reinforcement, the more strongly you felt the need to avoid what they didn’t approve of:
“Don’t be noisy,” “Don’t want anything,” “Don’t show your feelings,” Don’t disagree,” “Don’t make a mistake,” “Don’t trust anyone,” “Don’t think for yourself,” “Don’t show any weakness,” “Don’t try new things.”
And so on.
These negative injunctions become shadows—parts of be human we’ve disowned or repressed. When we see these qualities in others, we’re triggered emotionally. Ironically, the more we repress these qualities the more we attract people who have them, even though that’s the last thing we want. In fact, these people seem to be everywhere, and they upset us emotionally whenever we see them.
Though we try to repress them, we express these shadows anyway, but in covert and dysfunctional ways. If you’ve disowned anger, you’ll express it anyway, but in an unhealthy and immature way. Others will see your anger, but you won’t.
You’ll also attract other angry people, who will really bother you. In fact, negative feelings, people, and situations that keep happening to you are directly related to your unconscious shadows. Shadows are just another way we focus on what we don’t want.
So why negative is thinking, as unlikely as it sounds, the key to happiness?
First, a fundamental principle about life:
You can only do what doesn’t serve you if you do it unconsciously.
Focusing on what you don’t want creates bad feelings and attracts more of what you don’t want. Repressing qualities you think are bad or wrong causes you to express them anyway, but in a covert and immature way—and, to attract people with these qualities, who trigger you emotionally.
Obviously this doesn’t serve you. Despite the negative consequences, most people will keep doing this for their entire life—as long as they do it outside their awareness.
Do it with awareness, though, and you can’t keep doing it.
In fact, focusing on what you don’t want or disowning what you think is negative creates harmful results only when done unconsciously. Do the same thing with awareness and you’ll clearly see how you create the bad feelings, the less-than-resourceful behaviors, and your attraction to people and situations you don’t want in your life.
And, you’ll stop doing it, unless for some reason it serves you. If it doesn’t you’ll drop it like a hot rock.
As counter-intuitive as it might seem, negative thinking, when done with awareness, eliminates itself—and, the negative outcomes! You just can’t keep doing what isn’t resourceful once you see how you’re doing it. In fact, watching your mind create your life is one of the most fascinating things you’ll ever do. As you watch, whatever doesn’t serve you becomes impossible to keep doing.
How do you become aware enough to observe yourself in this way?
The most effective way is meditation. Meditation creates awareness, and then awareness creates choice. Unfortunately, meditation can be difficult, and results can take years.
Twenty years ago, however, Centerpointe Research Institute created a way to creates the brain wave patterns of deep meditation easily and effortlessly, using a sophisticated audio technology called Holosync, delivered through stereo headphones.
This high-tech method allows anyone to dramatically and quickly increase their awareness. Today, nearly two million people in 193 countries have used it to increase their awareness, lower their stress level, improve their mental clarity, and to become more aware.
Awareness gives you choice. Once you have choice, you won’t choose what creates suffering for you.
So go ahead. Think negatively. Just make sure you do it with awareness.
Blog: About Bill Harris
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