Thinking Negatively Can Have Positive Effects As Well, Professors Suggest

By , UniversityHerald Reporter

William Irvine, a philosophy professor at Wright University, advised his listeners that thinking about death from time to time is very liberating and powerful. His idea that thinking about such negative thought can yield positive results is not new because the Stoic philosophers had long adhered to this belief.

In his book, A Guide to the Good Life: The ancient Art of Stoic Joy, Irvine said that thinking about negative things and the fact that bad things can happen anytime of the day, is the key to happiness. And of course, the most negative thing among these negatives is death.

He explained why thinking negatively can make someone happy. He said, if a person always thinks that something bad will happen today and something good happened, on the other hand, he has a lot to be thankful for. One begins to appreciate how one day turned out well again.

Laura King, a professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri, Columbia said that everyone is afraid of the thought of death. However, she offered another view by asking a question what if people never die. She concluded, that if humans don't die, they will be like the vampires in the movie which lost the meaning of life because they lived long enough to see life.

In a study she conducted in 2009 called Death, Life, Scarcity, and Value: An Alternative Perspective on the Meaning of Death, she said that thinking about death is in line with the scarcity principle where people value something more when they have less of it. In the same way, when people think about death, they value life more.

Steve Heine, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia said that thoughts of death inspires behavior and attitudes that are praiseworthy, like forgiving someone who wronged you or being more compassionate of others.

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