Why Are We So Captivated by Negativity?

October 21, 2013  |  

If I were to give you a pop history quiz right now, and I asked you name five historical events in the last hundred years, what do you think you would select?  Beyond that, what do you think that that would reveal?  I’m not a big gambler (especially after I got hustled in Three Card Monty on the cold St. Louis streets when I was 16) but I would bet that at least 3 of the events that popped into your mind had negative associations (wars, genocide, the whole negative shebang).  But why though, and can we even put blame on anyone besides ourselves?

We all know the truth.  Bad news generates so much attention because it creates such a visceral reaction from us.  Besides music, it seems that we can all bond on the fact that, in essence, we’re scared beings.  Life is so fragile, and we don’t know when our number’s up.  So when negative news comes, we can easily place ourselves in the victims’ feet and wonder:  “What would I have done in that case?”  It sparks discussion, encourages us to create change, and stay aware.  However, I’m starting to feel as if we’re in a situation that it seems that too many times we’re addicted to dysfunction.  We want it, might even crave it, and feel nervous if something bad doesn’t happen in a while.

I can only create the hypothesis that we’re comfortable in this negativity.  What makes me think this?  You can follow multiple news sources on Twitter, and the moment they run a positive story, there’s always those comments of “Slow news day, huh?”  or “With all the other things that are going on in the world, you’re going to print this puff piece?”  I’m sorry to sound judgmental, but I can’t handle all that negative news and I almost have to breathe a sigh of relief when I see puff articles.

Sometimes it seems as though when there are good news stories, there lies a suspicion that “we’re not getting the whole story.”  As if some are waiting for the other shoe to drop to prove that “things are never this good.”

But things can be this good.  Good news doesn’t have to always be questioned, or almost repulsed by readers.  The truth of the matter is, negative thoughts can be contagious.  A recent study found that people’s cognitive vulnerability is stronger than we realized.  If you’re spending a lot of time with a person who is constantly stressed or negativity, that rubs off on you.

Granted, we should know what’s going on in the world, but at the same time, you shouldn’t sacrifice your happiness for it.  When you’re reading a negative news story, try to counter it with a positive one, if not for anyone else, do it for yourself.  Surrounding yourself with too much negativity can lead to depression.

Life is filled with both happy and sad moments.  Though the negative can seem to be overwhelming, reward yourself with positive ones as well, because you deserve to be happy.  Don’t waste your life on just focusing on the negative, you’re worth too much to do that to yourself.

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