Peter Wehner in the NYTimes quotes Scottish novelist John Buchan. Buchan (1875-1940) notes that he was:
“brought up in times when one was not ashamed to be happy, and I have never learned the art of discontent….It seems to me that those who loudly proclaim their disenchantment with life have never been really enchanted by it.”
Focusing on the negative will likely lead to a downward spiral of self-fulfilling prophecies, certainly with regard to social interactions. Anyone succumbing to paralyzing fear (“No one likes me. I’m unlikable…”) will inevitably live with the negative consequences of that mindset.
At the same time, being critical of current institutions is a key way we grow through the evolution of norms and self improvement.
The famous Dr. Pangloss of Voltaire’s Candide, who only saw the positive, espoused the Day-Glo rainbow maxim that this was always the “best of all possible worlds.” That mindset has its uses, because self-delusion can come in handy for helping us knock on the next job door or get up the next morning after a setback.
Such a rainbow person could simply be living in denial (of an abusive spouse or other enabling destructive relationship).
How to reconcile the negative with the positive seems the key to a balanced life. If you have to err, though, add a dollop more of the spiritual and psychological sunshine—even if from a man-made sunlamp. We can celebrate the joy of life amidst the chaos of circumstance.