People always used to ask me, “What’s wrong?” I always used to say, “Nothing.” But that wasn’t quite true. It seems a lot of people go through life blabbering about how happy they are, how great life is, or how beautiful the world is. And while I love a lot of things about myself, my life, and the world, I’m more aware of negative aspects of these things. People often try to peg me as a pessimist, but I describe myself as a realist. I’m real about what I don’t like about things, and real about how I plan on changing what I don’t like. How will I change these things? It begins with a simple belief: I believe in the positive effects of negative thinking.
I’m reminded of one story which was particularly important in the forming of my belief. In 2006, shortly after returning to the U.S. from travelling abroad, I read about an Iraq War protest in Los Angeles. I had a lot of negative thoughts about the war in Iraq. I felt like it was another Vietnam. I thought that we were destroying the country of a population who was largely innocent and non-participants in any kind of terrorist acts. I was mad at our government and wanted to do something about it. So, I drove out to L.A. early on a Saturday morning to attend the protest.
At the protest were all kinds of different people who had negative thoughts about the war in Iraq. People from all walks of life were united in their opposition to the war: straight and gay, old and young, men and women, punkers, skaters and corporate America desk jockeys. From all this negative thinking came a very strong positive effect: unity. This was one of the few times that I felt united with many different people. And it all happened because of my negative thoughts about the war.
I continue to believe the positive effects and negative thinking and this belief colors actions in my everyday life. I wonder if I’ll still believe in the power of negative thinking once I get married and have children. Perhaps that will make the optimist inside me blossom. Until then, I’ll continue believing that looking at the negative aspects of life can bring positive results.
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