Kelly’s Heroes is a WWII classic film with one of the best oddball characters called ‘Oddball’. In this classic film, Oddball addresses an overly nervous and distressed soldier to stop with his negative waves. It is funny and makes the point that you can be negative just as long as you don’t put them into waves for other people to catch. Equally, positivity works the same way. People who are overly positive are anxious and distressed people who want to feel secure by making everyone around them feel positive.
Look at it this way, it is like a nightclub of insecure people, they convince themselves that they are having a good time by adopting the logic that they must be having a good time because everyone else is. The only problem is, everyone else is thinking this and not having a good time starts to become a frightful thought. Now, surrounded by this bombardment of positiveness, you have to enjoy life like there is something wrong with you if you feel negative.
Fear of negativity is the sick man of society. BBC Travel’s article “Bhutan’s dark secret to happiness” was an an insightful piece of writing on how the people of Bhutan come to deal with their own happiness by coming to terms with a universally shattering truth, we are all going to die some day. The writer, Eric Weiner, of this article suffered a panic attack when he arrived in Bhutan. He visited a local doctor and the doctor’s prognosis for his panic attacks was “you need to think about death for five minutes everyday”. Now that’s a prescription I can get behind. Maybe not for someone who is suicidal though.
Many of us in society are compelled to feel anything but negative. We are being hounded by social media, advertising, school and our workplace to be positive and happy. It is a crime to be negative. Being happy all the time is a never-ending void that will only make life feel wasted. People worry too much about fulfilling themselves before they die. Feeling happy is more important today than feeling how you truly feel.
You never see a person enter a shrink’s office to confess they are enjoying too much of a good thing, unless they are an alcoholic. People will confess to feeling guilty for never enjoying life to it’s fullest extreme. It is a crime to not want to feel fulfilled today.
It can be seen on Facebook a lot. Anxiety boils over to create an image of oneself to be ‘living life’ and cataloging all the best things that are happening to you, even if it’s having a child which I will never understand. You can see it when a couple is constantly posting their affection for one another, or that one person who posts generic inspirational quotes from BrainyQuote and doesn’t have the decency to quote the author. Better yet, they can’t get enough of these quotes, so they like inspirational Facebook pages and share these toxic quotes.
Quotes like this one here “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud” irritate me. You can’t have a rainbow without the rain. I would quote whoever said that, but I have never been able to find them.
Placing positivity in front of the real emotion is a by-product of wanting to wrestle your emotions into place, rather than accepting the blockage facing you in life. There is a difference between thinking positive and acting positive though. Positive thinking can be all fine and dandy, but if it’s nothing other than thinking and not action, it is not worth a Kardashian.
I think negatively but act positively. I tend to over think the path ahead of myself and as a result I act accordingly. A lot of positive people want to believe that their positive thinking will lead to better outcomes, but it won’t without the action that is needed, and that action can lead to a lot of negativity, which will only disengage the ‘positive thinker’ to enter a spiral that will end in a worse case scenario.
It’s like the old joke about a man who wants to win the lottery and prays to God. Weeks go by and despite his positive praying, he doesn’t win. He feels angry with God, but God replies to him that he first needs to buy a lottery ticket to win the lottery. Praying alone will do him no good without the action to fulfill it.
I’m not trying to glorify negativity by any means, it can be a barrier to living life, but it shouldn’t be seen as an inherently bad thing, just as positivity shouldn’t be seen as an inherently good thing. They are what they are and in some ways they lead to one another unexpectedly.
Woody Allen’s ‘Love and Death’ has a scene which offers a nice little insight into the conundrum of happiness VS sadness. I won’t blame you if you need to read it a few times, it’s a bit of waffle with a nice message squeezed in the middle.
To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering one must not love. But then one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be unhappy, one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness. I hope you’re getting this down.
Kirsten Dunst’s role as Peggy in season two of Fargo best exemplifies the idea of positivity creating a negative effect. She prefers to distort and ignore the reality in front of her, and instead opting out to live in a fantasy of surreal happiness. Instead of acting through the obstacles that face her,like accidentally running someone over, being on the run from a crime family, or lying to herself that she could be successful and be a mother at the same time, she prefers to be in a positive bliss.
She talks constantly about being ‘fully actualized’, as if a positive mental attitude would save her from being murdered. Instead of dealing with the first insistence of conflict and resolving it through action, she ignored it. Ultimately, she comes to confess that she couldn’t have it all and she is left alone in the world after losing the people she loves.
Whenever I hear people tell me to be positive, I hear insecurity. Just like Peggy said, if you don’t follow the mold, people will think you are faulty. I think people are faulty if they truly believe that a wholly happy life is something they want. You should all just be April Ludgate.