Why do people always focus on the negative?

I am speaking of ALL people and with everything. My boyfriend actually brought it to my attention. All people always speak of their struggles, how they are struggling, what they are struggling with and/or how they have overcome it. Also we (myself included) always try to compete who is struggling the hardest. I hardly every hear people ONLY focusing on the positive. Is this an evolutionary trait or something?

Answer #1

Human nature :)

Unfortunately, it’s also designed (focusing on negative things…) to keep people down, and those in control, above / ahead of you, in control of more resources, etc.

Those who do positive things…well, they do very well :) If you’ve seen the movie the secret, there’s even scientific proof that focusing on the positive yeilds incredible results.

Answer #2

I dont know… I have read some scientific studies that say thats crap. Maybe they are the pessimistic scientiests.

Answer #3

LOL. Well, then the alternative is: what do you want to spend your time on? There’s a marketing blog I read, almost daily…only b/c every day the guy is saying something positive that’s useful, interesting and inspirational. There aren’t any sites I read regularly that espouse a consistant, negative viewpoint…oddly enough, this blogger is also the #1 most influential in the advertising / marketing category, as far as solo writers go.

So even if science says it’s useless…personal experience, to me, shows that it pays actual $$$ dividends. I’d rather be rich than completely scientifically accurate…especially if in the process I helped inspire a whole generation of marketing professionals.

Answer #4

Is this referring to the secret, the documentary? as there are many films with the same title.

Answer #5

People like to know that there is always someone worse off than they are in a sence that makes them feel good to think they have better sercumbstances than others.

Answer #6

OMG! I always wondered about the same thing. That is why I am so quiet in groups. As soon as there is a gathering there it start the negative talk about work about the boss. Then it shift about how long the work week is going to be. Then the weekend comes and people complain how short it was, how rainy it was, who in the family is sick, how bad the traffic was etc.

Answer #7

meh, I would rather just be happy than scientifically correct OR rich! Besides, if you dont keep a positive attitude in science you will end up jumping off a cliff. You experience so much failure its ridiculous!

Answer #8

you should just stick to the complaining about the boss. Studies show a mutual bitch-fest brings people closer together! People really do study the strangest things

Answer #9

But why?

Answer #10

As Jeremy said,this is all human nature.This is the fact that if 10 people will talk about the same person,9 out of them will talk about his/her negative things.Why? It’s because People like to do so,they take more interest in complaining about people and talk negative. Even if it’s me,I also can’t be 100% positive,that is really difficult but I am trying to achieve that,in my meditation class,I have been taught,that no matter whatever happens with you or if some struggle or problem comes in your life,take positive things out of it,learn something out of it. People will see negativity all around them if they will be negative themselves,doing this will change things into negative only.

Answer #11

I don’t :] ‘Always look on the briiight side of life. Do, do. Doo, doo doo, doo, doo, do.’ :] Maybe people just think of the negative cos it might be the most likely to happen, I like to think that I’m a happy-go-lucky optimist :] As I always say; ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,’ or; ‘it’s always darkest before the dawn.’ :] It’s human nature to expect bad things, I guess.

Answer #12

Because it draws people together. Exactly how are you supposed to give comfort or support (often leading to bonding) if the person has nothing wrong in their lives. Also, everyone has something going on in their life. Pretending it doesnt exist isnt healthy. This way you get to talk it out and feel better. I dont think people only focus on the negative. It honestly depends on the atmosphere. There’s a couple of places I’ve worked in, and the places with negative atmospheres had negative talk (i.e. complaining about the boss). The places people were happy to work in, had overall positive talk. Watch for it though, when people dont tell you about the stuff that’s going on in their life odds are your relationship stays at a shallow, superficial level. Why are you going to open up to someone who doesnt tell you about what’s going on in their life?

Answer #13

A positive out look is key in this world.

Answer #14

I observe that competition for social dominance in primates is characterised not by being the best in a positive way, but by trashing the competition. Most humans are still in denial over the possibility of any relationship with chimps and bonobos other than ‘isn’t it cute that they behave so like us’ despite staring at the evidence in front of them. Denial is achieved by rationalising that zoo monkeys must have learned from watching tourists and that any similar behaviour in the wild is pure coincidence. Besides, we’ve been conditioned from childhood to believe in Adam and Eve. Everyone says so. I might also observe that when Catholicism dominated western Christianity, challenge to the sun-goes-round-earth model by Galileo on behalf of Copernicus was utterly refuted. The Vatican now has its own observatory and recently apologised to Galileo. But I digress. Our desire for social dominance - known in the UK post-war years as ‘keeping up with the Joneses next door’ has been increasingy driven by the media and by marketeers. Few are immune to marketing. The point of marketing is to create a ‘want’ emotion. Just over a decade ago, the big clothing brands targeted the young, who they’d ignored up to that point. As the targets reached their late teens, parents became overwhelmed by demands for expensive clothes so that their kids woudn’t feel outcompeted in the playground. Other industries caught the idea and demands for high-end toys and tech (etc etc) ballooned. Likewise political parties would not ask for millions to spend on tv/radio/media ads unless they were convinced it makes a difference. Even religious groups are cashing in now, and Catholic spin in particular is becoming quite slick at ‘adjusting’ perceptions. Newspapers and networks now buzz with bad news because it sells copy. Uk lawmakers are afraid to challenge a Sunday tabloid for fear of their private lives being negatively spun by way of revenge. Not good. And all because ‘tabloiding’ has become the modern form of stoning, regardless of whether the majority thinks it justified. We’ll never know what the journalists get up to - notice how they’ve effectively adopted the role of celibate priests - because they’ll close ranks and cover up anything that might stain their imperious piety. Dangerous. However, my ‘QED’ is that newspapers would not pander to people’s desire for bad news if it didn’t make them feel superior by proxy. Our desire to feel just that little bit superior in our exponentially-growing planet-wide colony is in our genes. So long as the media fuels that desire, we will drown in our own immaturity and call it free speech. If we are to progress as humans, we need to recognise and cap our collective desire to feel better than the next guy, because it is also fuelling our purchasing of things purely to feel superior and not because of actual need. I propose that this is probably the root problem of global warming. Any actions which address the symptom instead of the problem are merely rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. Just as we cut advertising to cut smoking, we need to start curbing excessive desire for superiority. The clues are in our language ‘living like a lord’, ‘an Englishman’s home is his castle’. The modern version of lords is celebrities. Notice that vast numbers of people are desperate to look like film stars (sunglasses is the quickest way) or rock stars because they now outrank lords in terms of income. To be honest, the Christian work ethic (which has been the engine of capitalism) was fine when the global population was at a lower level, but there are toxic side-effects once our population reached a certain level. Once the spend on detox reaches a critical level, the last financial crisis will look small. We need to act to avert that moment, but the people making cash out of it all will resist by saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it’ in the traditional manner. Ah. So long as we believe that it is good to aim for or achieve the highest possible level of income (the savings equivalent of nuclear overkill) over and above what we need to live in adequate comfort and security, we have a major problem.

Answer #15

luckily for me, I have infact given up on trying to be superior, especially in terms of consumerism. Its just not going to happen. I will probably never finish studying so I will never have any money anyway. Meh, you just learn to be happy with what you have.

Answer #16

Well if we were always positive then we’d just be lying to ourselves. It’s a cold and hatful world out there, so we just need to adapt with what we see… negitivity

Answer #17


Answer #18

Slegte gesleskap bederf goeie sedes. thats why?

Answer #19

Hoe maak dit sin? Slegte geselskap bederf goeie sedes? Was is slegte geselskap in die spreekwoord?

Answer #20

Consider the lowest level in the Hindu caste system: Untouchables, the latrine cleaners (etc) not even accepted as being ON the celestial ladder (but tolerated because the sewage system would othrwise collapse). Their status prevents their education or social progression. A permanent reminder of how bad it can get if you don’t follow a creed. The west’s social invisibles - hobos/derelicts/vagrants/nomads still have a chance at rehabilitaton, but not the Untouchables. Here is the paradox: everyone else doesn’t seem to care that they will always be above the lowest of the low. It’s just a game they play to try to motivate themselves. Try Eric Berne’s Games People Play; the game is called ‘Ain’t It Awful’. search the phrase online and you’ll find a summary. Be careful in generalising, it’s a popular game, but mostly played by those who feel the world owes them something for not being able to make more of their lives. It’s perhaps more a problem of being unable to accept responsibility - if they drop litter, well it’s always somebody else’s fault for not being there to pick it up. Even if they were given a big house with servants, it still wouldn’t be good enough. Might be a genetic variant or factor of educational or social disability - the people who couldn’t quite see the point of school maybe. Needs more research. We’re more aware of these people today because of increasing population. Things that occur in small percentages start to look common once the population is large enough - and these people are more obvious because they shout a lot. We don’t register the people who just get on with life, because they don’t make a song and dance out of it. Hence it looks like the negative folk are in abundance, when in fact they aren’t.

Answer #21

Well Danielle, you know what they say: Money isn’t the key to happiness, but with a lot of it you can probably buy the key :)

Which movie is that exactly Jeremy, I would love to see it as I am the boyfriend who put the idea in Irene’s head

Answer #22

What you is very true, we all have problems in our lives and it doesn’t help to pretend that they don’t exist. We need to deal with them in what ever way we prefer.

But there are people who have made problems the basis of their relationships and I think they often don’t want their problems to go away as it will be the end of the relationship in a way.

Anyway, the thing me and Irene spoke about is not about pretending to be constantly positive but rather people who have good lives and will still constantly complain about everything and are generally unhappy for no good reason other than their negative attitudes.

It’s like 100 people will tel you you are good looking, but if only one person says you don’t look good that one person will often affect us more than the 100.

Answer #23

Love your little rant!

Answer #24

Its not about being always positive, its about not always being negative

Answer #25

But mutual bitch fests are so boring!

Its exactly the type of talk I hate

Answer #26

That is a very interesting idea, that negative people just talk more than positive people, and therefore seem to be more common.

Will definitely need to consider that

Answer #27

Too kind! I’m trying to stand back from the tree to see the woods, but the woods are huge and most people have their nose to the bark - and find even the side view scary. One day I’ll compress it all into a few pithy lines…. :))

Answer #28

There are some evolutionary explanations why people focus on negatives.

Simply when everything is fine our brains accept that. A hundred things can happen around us that our minds know will not hurt us and we will consciously barely notice them, but the moment that we hear a strange sound alarms go off in our brains warning us of danger. Therefore as a survival mechanism we focus consciously on negative things that could hurt us. Although today, things mostly don’t really hurt us but we still focus on them and what could go wrong. It’s just gone from things that really are problems to small unnecessary problems that actually don’t matter, but as some people have stated above a lot of unnecessary problems have been created in our minds by advertising.

As to the positive and negatives of negative things: Negative thoughts and the feelings we associate with them are still very necessary. We often need to be scared of failing a test in order to be willing to study harder for the test. We need to have that gut feeling that certain people cannot be trusted. We need those fast reactions when in danger.

On the other hand there are generally a lot of problems associated with being negative. Often we have bad feelings about things for the wrong reasons. We don’t like certain people because we were told they were bad even if they are not. We are scared of failure because we fear punishment even though many people will tell you failing is the fastest way to learn. And then one of the biggest problems today with having many negative thoughts is that it causes stress. Way back when something bad happened our bodies would release adrenaline and along with it came all kinds of benefits. Today we constantly worry about mortgages, crime, health, jobs, tests etc etc and every time we worry about these things our bodies release adrenaline, but in tiny little amounts that we can’t get rid of as fast as it is being produced, and that slowly poisons us. That to me is the major drawback of thinking negative thoughts.

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