My grandma often tells people: “Get on with life.” When we’re faced with a complex, grave problem, she doesn’t think we should try to ‘deal with it’. Do you wonder why she thinks so?
Well, the reason is simple. Dealing with a problem means resolving and removing it completely. Yet, there are many issues that can’t be done away with like that. We are all vulnerable, grow old, fall ill, and eventually die. There’s no way you can just “deal with” these things in that sense of the word.
However, you can certainly get on with life, i.e. accept your problems and learn how to live with them. Because not all problems have solutions. Not all miseries have an end. Not everything can be changed or turned into happiness. Because that’s how things really are.
That’s the reality. And it’s always better and more desirable to face it as it is than “live in a fool’s paradise,” as my grandma says.
I know all this sounds harsh, maybe even pessimistic, but trust me, it’s not my intention to make you feel sad or hopeless.
The thing is, our culture glorifies and embraces positivity. When we’re faced with difficult challenges or problems, be that health, emotional, family, or financial, we’re constantly told to think positively, change our attitudes, and look on the bright side. Sounds familiar, right?
It’s incredible how many motivational coaches and psychologists tell us how and why we should think positively. They advise you to be enthusiastic, visionary, and of course, dream big because all this leads to optimization of life and all sorts of development.
Moreover, our culture’s fascination with positivity has even reached the point where people who suffer from serious illnesses are expected to “learn from their condition” and come out of all this stronger.
This idea is discussed in innumerable self-help books and memoirs by people with both mental and physical illness, especially famous ones, that talk about how glad they are they went through a crisis since they learned so much from it.
But, do things really function in the real world as it is presented in all these self-help books and memoirs? Is it really possible to see problems and illnesses as just “interesting challenges”?
Hm, I find that hard to believe. Frankly, it seems to me that this is actually avoiding reality.
The truth is, telling a seriously ill person to look on the bright side is the most insensitive and offensive thing you can ever say to them. I mean, it’s not like this person doesn’t want to be happy and put an end to their misery. Most probably, they’re struggling to find something worthy to live for that will give them the hope to get out of bed in the morning.
It’s true, too, that only a few people would admit and say out loud that their illness has been terrible from start to finish and they’d rather not have had to deal with it.
I’m sure many will agree that the phenomenon of positivity seems delusional and illogical. That’s why this ‘tyranny of the positive’ should be eliminated completely and we should embrace the negative instead.
But, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you should have a pessimistic attitude towards life and lose hope, but if you focus on the negative in your life, this will make you better prepared to stand firm right where you are.
Embracing the negative aspects of life has multiple advantages. First of all, it enables you to think and speak freely. In fact, many people like a good moan. “The taxes have been upped again,” or “Oh, no, is that a grey hair?” are just some of the innumerable things we complain about.
Of course, complaining about anything and anyone won’t help you solve your problems or bring any positive change, but it certainly makes life more manageable. And if you’re not allowed to vent, can you imagine how frustrating this would be?
Secondly, by focusing on the negative, you start the first phase in dealing with problems. Perhaps you can’t do a lot to improve the weather on Sunday afternoon, but if you only focus on the positive things, let’s say at your work, and never have the chance to talk about the bad conditions and collaboration you have to endure every day, you’ll end up feeling angry and frustrated.
Thirdly, thinking about the negative things that may happen to you, and will inevitably happen to you, will make you appreciate more the life you’re living now, including in times of crisis.
For example, death is a concept that terrifies most of us and we rarely talk about it. We tend to think about it as something that will happen in the distant future. But, if you come to terms with the fact that fortune can take away the people you love the most without a warning, this will undoubtedly make you love what you have in the short time you have it.
The point is, focusing on the negative doesn’t mean that you have to have a pessimistic attitude to the world. Instead, it means that you’re able to accept reality.
Because you may be able to make some positive changes, but you will never eliminate the negative aspects of your life. Because they’re not always a product of your own personal inadequacies, lack of motivation, or pessimistic attitude, but of external circumstances over which you don’t have control.
You need to understand that you have the right to and you should criticize and complain about the bad things that happen in your life or in the life of others. Because if you’re always optimistic and positive, imagine how shocked and disappointed you’d be when things go wrong for you.
Last but not the least, you need to understand that embracing the negative enables you to face future adversities more prepared, but most importantly, it helps you face reality and stand firm on your own ground.
Riley Cooper is a professional writer who writes informative and creative articles on topics related to various fields of study. Written with love and enthusiasm, her articles inspire readers to broaden their knowledge of the world, think and get ready to act.