“Think positive….” “choose joy…” “look on the bright side…”  “find the silver lining…”

Sometimes when I hear the mantras of the power of positive thinking I am reminded of an old Saturday Night Live skit where a character (Stuart Smalley) is going through self-affirmations while looking in the mirror, saying, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”  This comedic skit poked fun at the emphasis on positivity that can make us feel like we always need to look at the world through rose-colored glasses.

Certainly there are times when we need to challenge or entertain outside perspective to help challenge negative thinking.  This can be a vitally important way to reframe our thoughts and disrupt a cycle of negativity.  Yet, other times the tyranny of trying to always remain positive can be just as damaging!  Real life includes painful emotions and difficult circumstances, and our thoughts about those challenges do not need to deny their reality.   Instead, learn to accept what you are truly dealing with and avoid distorting that image to either extreme.  Neither turn your reality into a catastrophe nor pretend that what’s bad is actually good.  We will ultimately find more joy and contentment when we accept the good with the bad in ourselves, in others, and in our circumstances!

~ Cameron Butler, M.A.

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