Embracing positivity: Why it’s not for me

Every time I turn on the computer, I read a blog, article or meme telling me how to be happy. It seems that the latest craze is all about embracing positivity and learning happiness. Well I’m afraid I for one won’t be doing it.

Do I want to be happy? Of course I do, who doesn’t? But I want to be happy in my own skin, satisfied with my own life and content that I am having a positive impression on the world and not impacting negatively upon it. I don’t want canned happiness that comes from someone teaching me what I should be happy about and reminding me to smile.

If I have a bad day, the last thing I want to read is somebody telling me why it was in fact a good day. We all have bad days, we need them or we forget how lucky we are on the good days. And that’s a slippery slope to canned happiness. And quite frankly, false positivity just seems incredibly self-indulgent to me. Let me explain.

The world is a beautiful place where terrible things happen. I’m not talking natural disasters, I’m talking people, us. We are judgemental, greedy and narcissistic and we cause each other untold pain. We are destroying our planet, treating different species as inferior and allowing other human beings to suffer for our own greed.

Psychologists believe that one of the best ways to achieve happiness is to help other people. It’s called helper’s high and it has a basis in science. Helping someone else releases endorphins, assists you to be grateful for what you have, takes your mind off your own problems and it can even improve your physical health by encouraging you to be more active.

There are numerous charities out there run and staffed by generous, hard working people – both paid staff and volunteers – who do everything in their power to right a particular wrong in the world. Be that helping the homeless, providing access to medical assistance for people in third world countries or aiding adults, children or animals who are ill or suffering.

There are also people carrying out amazing acts of kindness for random strangers, assisting elderly neighbours, popping round daily to see local people who are lonely, walking dogs in shelters and generally making the world a better place.

And however difficult their own lives are, those people who go out of their way to help someone else will make two people happy – both the person they help and themselves.

And in turn, the world becomes a slightly better place, one kind act at a time. If we all went out of our way to do positive things for other people then maybe, just maybe we would actually be really happy. And I’m talking throw yourself into life, embrace the bad days as well as the good, be kind to each other, stamp out bullying, live in harmony kind of happy.

This canned happiness lark is totally counter-intuitive. Many people are unhappy with their own lives and it takes a brave person to change the things we are miserable about, even if we know that the changes will ultimately be positive. That might mean finding a new job, moving house or ending a damaging relationship.

But if you can honestly look at your own life and say that everything in it is as it should be to make you happy and you are still miserable, what then? Charities are crying out for help. Elderly people go weeks without speaking to a soul. Shelter dogs don’t get walked, hospital patients don’t get visitors and people die alone and nobody notices for weeks.

There is always somebody out there who needs help and yet every day, perfectly able, sensible people waste their time meditating in a fruitless bid to find happiness. Well in my humble opinion, you’re looking in all the wrong places.

Embracing positivity pinterest

20 thoughts on “Embracing positivity: Why it’s not for me

  1. Donna

    Agree completely. I have made a little pack with myself to pay it forward and do things to make people happy, to help people and to be a bit more selfless this year. I did my blog critique and will keep helping people in a bloggy sense, I try and go the extra mile at work and I am trying to visit as many friends as possible in the spare time that I have – as friends and cake make everyone happy. Reading a post telling me to be happy will make me feel more ‘meh’ than ever! x

  2. A Cornish Mum

    Love this! Was nodding my head part Way through as well, on a bad day I really don’t want to be reading posts telling me I’m just 5 steps away from happy.
    If I’m having a bad day I’m having a bad day and countless other people will be having a much better or worse day, but like you said it makes you appreciate the good days so much more.
    Stevie x
    A Cornish Mum recently posted…Review: Pisamonas Shoes for All SeasonsMy Profile

  3. Chloe

    A very deep post. I must admit I’m a sucker for 5 steps to happy posts but only because they help me personally. But I’m currently ending a damaged relationship, changing jobs and moving house haha. I’m getting out of my comfort zone and it’s helping to make me happy. But I completely do agree with you, we need to help other people. By doing so we give something back and help ourselves. xx
    Chloe recently posted…WHATEVER THE WEATHER #26My Profile

  4. Sarah MumofThree World

    Love this! You talk so much sense. We’re all allowed bad days and to feel unhappy sometimes. Finding positives in a day works for some people, but for me I’ll just take the unhappiness! Love the idea of volunteering to make someone else’s life better and in doing so making your own life better. I used to do a fair bit for school, but don’t do much now I work for myself at home. It sounds like I need to get back into it!
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…The wrappers get out of handMy Profile

  5. Izzie Anderton

    We’re all allowed bad days and someone telling us to be happy when we have a good reason not to is infuriating. I guess you have to have bad days to be able to recognise days that are good x
    An interesting read x
    Izzie Anderton recently posted…The Trouble with Sleep – Part 1My Profile

  6. Caro | The Twinkle Diaries

    Such a great post — I totally agree. If you’ve never experienced crushing lows and sadness you’ll never experience true happiness. It’s impossible to be happy 100% of the time though — and anyone that says otherwise is a liar. I went through some very dark days when I was trying to conceive — I tried so very hard to look for the positives but being faced with a childless future was pretty devastating. Being told by people to embrace happy just made matters worse. These days, no bad day is ever as bad as it was back then. I thank my lucky stars every day that things turned out the way they did. And you’re right, helping others (even in the smallest of ways) is the route for two-way happiness. If everyone practiced that — and random acts of kindness were more frequent — the world would be a much nicer (and genuinely happy) place.
    Caro | The Twinkle Diaries recently posted…Home Etc #34My Profile

  7. Alice

    Great post, I totally get where your coming from sometimes you need to have a bad day and let it just be a bad day and not some twisted good day. I think we all look at things differently and find our own way to happiness whether it be just letting it happen or needing some guidance to get us there ! x
    Alice recently posted…Finding Summer in WinterMy Profile

  8. marianne hopwood

    I think you’ve misnamed your post – positivity is for you, just not the shallow kind in glossy magazines. There’s a book you’ll love if you haven’t seen it already ‘Have you filled a bucket today?’ by Carol McCloud. It’s a lovely way of explaining to kids how we fill our own bucket of happiness by filling that of others. Our yoga teacher friend read it to the boys last year and they still talk about bucket fillers and bucket emptiers. Great post 🙂
    marianne hopwood recently posted…Plate monstersMy Profile

  9. Azaria

    I hate reading posts telling me how to be happy. I know what makes me happy and what doesn’t. I completely agree with your post. We should be looking to fulfil our own happiness not be told by others what should or shouldn’t make us happy.
    Azaria recently posted…Ailsa at 10 MonthsMy Profile

  10. Stephanie Robinson

    An interesting viewpoint, but I don’t totally agree. I do agree that it’s ok to have a bad day and be down (for a while) and that saccharinely sweet people are annoying but I think positivity is a mindset that can be learnt. And I wish one part of my family would embrace it rather than having a downer on life, when in reality they don’t have an awful lot to be down about, but they just can’t see it. I find that tiring, but people are allowed to have their own viewpoints in my world 🙂
    Stephanie Robinson recently posted…Rambling up Hambledon HillMy Profile

  11. Jenna

    I definitely want to try and do more for other people as I did fall into the self-centered “how can I make myself happy?” trap last year. I quickly learned I was putting my focus on all the wrong things. Really interesting and thought provoking post. xx

  12. Alex Lamb & Bear

    Oh what a breath of fresh air! These positivity posts I’ve stumbled across are really doing my head in. I totally agree with everything you’ve said. I believe in looking on the bright side and working hard (sometimes I may word it as “staying positive”) but you know what I mean. I had a really shit year last year and although I didn’t let the bad times bring me down, I also let myself sit and complain every now and then. You can’t control what life throws at you, and if something shoit happens then why not have a moan about it! x
    Alex Lamb & Bear recently posted…Do we have a threenager?My Profile

  13. Agent Spitback

    I just love the way you write – it’s almost as if you are right here, speaking directly to me! I agree with you about helping other people…I think it definitely puts your own world in perspective when your energies are focused on someone else’s needs instead.
    Agent Spitback recently posted…A Bit of Everything Week 14My Profile

    1. monsteridNatalie Ray Post author

      Aw thank you so much, I really appreciate that, especially as your blog is genuinely one of my absolute faves! You make a great point about perspective too, seeing other people’s problems does distract you from wallowing doesn’t it??x


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