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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Is it more natural to have negative or positive emotions and thoughts?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (32652points) June 1st, 2012

My meditation this morning was constantly disrupted by little negative, unimportant thoughts. I found it impossible to relax and concentrate and had to give up after only about ten minutes.

My morning walk was then devoted to breathing and concentrating on the beautiful greenery around me, the blue sky dotted with puffy white clouds, and my breath. It cheered me up.

All this made me wonder about our emotions and thoughts and the stream of consciousness we all have. Are we more prone to have negative thoughts? Is it evolutionary? Does the fight or flight syndrome play a part in this?


Are we more likely to view the world around us and take in the deep positive notions that the universe throws at us constantly? It may be the taste of delicious fruit. It may be a beautiful view or a fragrant flower. There are many things to by positive or even cheerful about.

What do you believe about us as a species? Which is it for you on a personal level? Are we more negative or positive?

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15 Answers

josie's avatar

Human beings are heroic creatures. This would not be a trait unless they were generally positive about the outcomes of their actions. Positive is the natural state. Chronic negativism would be a deviation from that.

thorninmud's avatar

I’d say we’re a mixed bag, and I’m pretty sure that works out best for us as a society. Positivists and negativists each play important social roles, which is probably why those genetic traits have persisted in the population.

I’m naturally disposed to positive thoughts, my wife defaults to the negative. It seems like it’s a whole lot more fun to be me than to be her, and I often wish that she’d lighten up, but I also recognize that her fretting has been an asset to the little micro-society of our family. It causes her to constantly scan the horizon for potential nasties and plan way ahead for contingencies. That’s stuff I’d never do, but I’m sure as hell glad that she does. On the other hand, my influence keeps her from getting too bogged down in the crap, and reminds her why this is all worth the trouble.

I think that’s a fair representation of our things work in society at large.

marinelife's avatar

I think it is equally natural.

Sunny2's avatar

It’s an individual thing. I’ve known people who have a happy disposition and tend not to let things bother them. I’ve also know people who are always looking on the dark side. That normal for each of them. I don’t there’s a general norm. There are also those who are angry!! all the time, and those that tend to be silly a lot. Is that normal?

Linda_Owl's avatar

Personally, I am a Realist. I see positive things positively & I see negative things negatively. However, I have been accused of being a Pessimist, because when I make plans I try to figure out what might go wrong so that I can be prepared (I have also been accused of not having a sense of humor because physical comedy does not appeal to me – like most Adam Sandler movies – I like my humor dry & slightly sardonic).

fredTOG's avatar

Negative emotions are any feelings you have that make you feel bad. It’s perfectly normal for you to have bad thoughts and feelings at times.

Remaining stuck in a prolonged negative emotional state is something you should avoid. Thinking negative thoughts all of the time will drain you of energy, create additional stress, destroy relationships and cause physical illnesses.

When you feel bad it’s difficult to focus. It’s difficult to think clearly when making decisions. Negative emotions stop us from thinking and behaving rationally. Your feelings can literally make or break you. Have you ever known anyone who ruined their life because of their inability to manage their emotions?

Long lasting bouts of negative emotions can stop you enjoying life. Some of the most common negative emotions are anger, blame, discouraged, fear, guilt, inferiority, jealousy, loneliness, resentment, sad, unsafe, untrusting and worthlessness. All of these feelings cause you to be miserable. They make you dislike yourself as well as others.

wundayatta's avatar

It is completely unnatural to have positive or negative thoughts. That is, if you believe human activity is unnatural. That’s usually what people mean when they distinguish between natural and unnatural. Unnatural is that that humans do.

Judging is something humans do. Deeming thoughts to be positive or negative is a human activity, and by my definition, is unnatural.

We need not judge our thoughts. We need not label them positive or negative. We can accept them as thoughts without labeling them if we want. That’s what I do. My thoughts are my thoughts. I have learned not to fight them or try to change them. If I do that, I tend to make myself depressed. I have also learned not to hold onto them or make much of them. My brain thinks all kinds of shit, and a lot of it is kind of unhelpful.

So I try to let go of the unhelpful shit, and hold onto the thoughts that help me. This is true of feelings and emotions, too. I feel all kinds of things. There is stuff that hurts me, and stuff that isn’t so hurtful. I try to let go of the hurtful stuff as fast as I can.

So that’s how I see it. I can’t really answer your question because I don’t see the world in a framework that allows for your way of conceiving of things.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I’m a fairly Tabula Rasa person myself. I think each person has the capacity for both, but which one people are inclined more towards has to do with their specific environment (especially as a baby/young child) and how that environment interacts with their genetics and biology.

YARNLADY's avatar

I seen pictures of children who are dying and in pain yet, they smile and are happy when their favorite person is near or holding them. I think happy is more natural.

Negative thoughts are more likely to lead people to simply give up, and therefore are not evolutionarily advantageous.

rooeytoo's avatar

I often find myself in a mad rush, worrying about what I have to do and fretting about whether I will do it properly, stressing about if I will get it done in time. When I am in that mode I find myself feeling negatively. When I realize what I am doing, I have to pull myself up short and give myself no nonsense instructions to slow down! The old proverbial, take time to smell the flowers. When I heed those instructions to myself, I usually experience a sense of serenity and if not downright happiness, at least a feeling of neutrality. You are right, the world around us is the source. I just have to slow down and allow myself to steep in it.

Keep_on_running's avatar

It’s funny, I was just thinking something similar the other day; what is a humans default emotion? If we didn’t have any external positive or negative stimulus, what would we feel? Some interesting answers here.

janbb's avatar

I think it varies from person to person and that people can change over a lifetime. I am a more positive person than I used to be and I think my husband became more negative in his thinking.

mattbrowne's avatar

It’s more natural to remember dangers than things that went well. The majority of our basic emotions are negative. We need to survive so that we can experience the basic emotion of joy.

Paradox25's avatar

I think that most people, despite their demeanor, are pessimists at heart. We probably evolved that way, in order to defend ourselves from harm. Afterall, it is not the positives we need to worry about, but the negatives. We and other animals are wired to fear pain and death, and most of us have a strong enough will to stay alive, so pessimism is likely our natural state.

blueiiznh's avatar

It is all a perspective to where we are.
If you are surrounded by negative, then you lean towards it.
If you have had a significant amount of negative in your life or some PTSD event, then you may also lean that way.
If you live in peace and calm then you tend to find the good and see that in others.
I don’t think it is tied to your internal fight or flight, but again if you have been surrounded in turmoil the you may be on alert more that normal.
We all are mAde up by our past and have filters to certain things.
Your walk and meditation efforts can help those, just like a great nights sleep. You are able to separate yourself and free your mind.
I vote for peace and calm, zero drama and no whining!!!

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