The Effects of Being Positive and Negative

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The Effects of Being Positive and Negative

Positive thinkers catch a glimpse of color in a world of grey. Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Labeled for reuse from Flickr.

Positive thinkers catch a glimpse of color in a world of grey. Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Labeled for reuse from Flickr.

Positive thinkers catch a glimpse of color in a world of grey. Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Labeled for reuse from Flickr.

Positive thinkers catch a glimpse of color in a world of grey. Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Labeled for reuse from Flickr.

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The sun sends its rays down to warm the faces of the people of the world. Smiles grace everyone’s lips and joy soars through the air. Immediately, clouds set in, rolling through the sky and shielding the world from the bright sun. Every person’s smile drops off their face.

In a broad sense, the sun is the optimist and the clouds are the pessimist (yes, it’s that dramatic).

While it’s true that there aren’t necessarily only two types of people in this world, much of the world’s population can fit into one category or the other. A person’s outlook on life–whether optimistic or pessimistic–can actually affect their life and the people around them more than they might realize.

“I’m just an overall positive person and I’d rather be positive than negative…I tend to not really like negative people – they kind of cloud my sense of judgement. And then it kinda ruins my day and I’m just not about that,” said junior Maddi Montoya when asked why she’s more of an optimist.

“I’m probably a balance of the two. I can be overly optimistic at times. But, sometimes, when I’m either sick or tired or discouraged I can definitely be a pessimist too,” said Eric Beers, College and Career Counselor. “I just think it’s more fun to have more energy. And it’s more fun to tackle problems–when you always point out the negatives or think of the negatives of problems–it really makes for a lot of work.”

While this may be true to a certain extent, not all pessimists wallow in negative energy and only have a bad outlook on situations. Some actually channel their negative energy to be productive.

According to an article written by Fuschia Sirois from The Conversation, “There is a particular type of pessimist, the ‘defensive pessimist,’ who takes this negative thinking to a whole new level and actually harnesses it as a means for reaching their goals.”

For example, an event may be coming up in someone’s life who is generally a pessimist. They imagine all the ways that the event could go wrong and not end the way they desire. So, the “defensive pessimist” does everything they can to ensure that these worst case scenarios do not happen, rather than just hoping for the best.

“The benefits of defensive pessimism also extends to actual performance. One study [on Science Direct] shows that this has everything to do with negative mood. When prompted to be in a good mood, defensive pessimists performed poorly on a series of word puzzles. However, when they were put in bad mood by being instructed to imagine how a scenario might have negative outcomes, they performed significantly better. This suggests that… [defensive pessimists] harness their negative mood to motivate themselves to perform better,” Sirois wrote.

But moving away from how some pessimists may use their energy to perform well, negative-thinking is still not the healthiest way to live.

“There are huge benefits…The number one thing about recovering from like a knee surgery or maybe even something in your chest or anything like that is actually optimist thinking, positive thinking. More than drugs, more than physical therapy, more than a lot of doctors appointments,” Beers said.

According to Mayo Clinic, the benefits of positive thinking include:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

Both positive and negative people have their place in this world. Optimists are typically seen as more imaginative, while pessimists can be viewed to be more cynical. Although being a positive thinker doesn’t necessarily mean one is a dreamer and a pessimist a realist, these differing personality traits complement each other in the real world. One keeps them grounded while the other keeps them floating.

Being an optimist can make situations seem easier to deal with. However, ironically, being negative can also have positive effects.

Everyone loves watching the clouds dissipate to let the sun rays shine through; but it’s also nice to have a break from the sun.

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