There are mixed responses to the concept of positivity. Many people (often realists) feel that it is “unnecessary” and “fluffy” – something that does not help you survive in this dog-eat-dog world. Others lie at the other end of the spectrum and spit out generic, pseudo-inspirational quotes, saying that they are so happy that nothing can touch them. But as with anything, balance is crucial. Being overly pessimistic can make you a miserable, anhedonic person who is incapable of getting any enjoyment out of life. Being overly optimistic can make you have false hope, setting you up for a catastrophic crash when a bad situation arises to knock you off your feet.
So what is a good balance? According to the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions, having an overall positive balance of emotions leads to a happier life with not only more contentment, but more awareness, mindfulness, creativity and success. Through positivity, a person can break out of the prison made by everyday stress and explore hobbies and interests, learning new skills, meeting people and building relatinoships. It also builds resilience, allowing you to withstand more stress and endure on until a better time. A rough rule of thumb is a 3:1 ratio of positive and negative emotions.
The reason it is important to allow for some negativity is that human emotions are not black and white. Sadness, pain and stress can be crippling if left unchecked, but they also catalyse growth and change. Human beings grow by learning from experience. If you ignore and push down the negative emotions, you will never react to them and you will not learn how to become better at preventing and managing such harsh times. Much like how something as foul and repulsive as manure can be an excellent fertiliser, negativity in controlled amounts acts to help you develop positivity. Do not let negativity control your life and do not bottle it up, pretending not to be affected by it. Instead, let yourself be overwhelmed once in a while, cry if you need to and learn from the experience.
The secret to positivity is not just boosting your happiness level, but being mindful of all of your emotions and learning to find the balance.