So much for positive thinking

This article provides empirical findings on just what sort of attitude is conducive to success. And it ain’t that positive thinking crap. Some clips. First on the positive:

“In some situations, happiness carries far more serious risks. It’s associated with the cuddle hormone, oxytocin, which a handful of studies have shown reduces our ability to identify threats. […] ‘Happiness functions like a shorthand signal that we’re safe and it’s not necessary to pay too much attention to the environment.’ Those in a continuous happy haze may miss important cues. 

“Of all the positive emotions, optimism about the future may have the most ironic effects. Like happiness, positive fantasies about the future can be profoundly de-motivating. […] Graduates who fantasise about success at work end up earning less, for instance. Patients who daydream about getting better make a slower recovery. In numerous studies, Oettingen has shown that the more wishful your thinking, the less likely any of it is to come true.

Now the cranky negative, more my style:


“The truth is, pondering the worst has some clear advantages. Cranks may be superior negotiators, more discerning decision-makers and cut their risk of having a heart attack. Cynics can expect more stable marriages, higher earnings and longer lives – though, of course, they’ll anticipate the opposite.”

“Take anger. […] Crucially, angry volunteers were better at moments of haphazard innovation, or so-called ‘unstructured’ thinking. […] In essence, creativity is down to how easily your mind is diverted from one thought path and onto another. […] Though it’s thought to have evolved primarily to prepare the body for physical aggression, this physiological response is known to have other benefits, boosting motivation and giving people the gall to take mental risks.

“The notion that repressed feelings can be bad for your health is ancient. The Greek philosopher Aristotle was a firm believer in catharsis (he invented the modern meaning of the word); viewing tragic plays, he conjectured, allowed punters to experience anger, sadness and guilt in a controlled environment. By getting it all out in the open, they could purge themselves of these feelings all in one go.”

“And not all benefits are physical: anger can help with negotiating, too. A major flashpoint for aggression is the discovery that someone does not value your interests highly enough. It involves inflicting costs – the threat of physical violence – and withdrawing benefits – loyalty, friendship, or money – to help them see their mistake.”

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About theurj

Also known as theurj. I've contributed some essays to Integral World and co-founded Open Integral blog, now defunct. I continue to participate in Integral Postmetaphysical Spirituality forum.
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