The Power of Negative Thinking

January 12th, 2010

I once read a quote from Robert Smith of The Cure. If you know anything about The Cure, you know that their songs are…well…depressing. And Robert Smith himself looks a bit on the gloomy side.

So, imagine my surprise when I read this quote:

“At the time we wrote Disintegration…it’s just about what I was doing really, how I felt. But I’m not like that all the time. That’s the difficulty of writing songs that are a bit depressing. People think you’re like that all the time, but I don’t think that. I just usually write when I’m depressed.”

I thought this was interesting on a couple of levels.

1. For someone who seems depressed all the time, he is in fact depressed some of the time. (Isn’t that most of us?)

2. During the times that he is depressed, his creative output is great.

I thought of this Robert Smith quote because I recently read an article about unhappiness and how unhappiness can be a good thing.

This may seem like a shock from someone who writes a personal development blog, but I think happiness is overrated. And “positive thinking” is over-hyped.


The bad thing about “happiness” is that there is no way to qualify it. “Happiness” is subjective, and there is no surefire way to get it. And once you do get some “happiness”, it’s bound to fade away. That’s life. The ultimate truth in life is Poop Happens. And you are NOT going to be happy about it.

But here’s the real question: what do you do with your unhappiness?

What do you do when you feel down?

Here’s what I do: I write. I write A LOT. The fact is when I am feeling a little down, my output doubles. That “negative” energy puts me into a real creative mood. And the irony of it is that it ends up making me happy.

But that’s just me. Everyone gets down sometimes. I’m an unrepentant optimist and positive person, but even I get down. But rather than run away from it or “wish it away”, we can use those times to channel our creative energy.

And honestly, I think that’s a healthy thing to do. Artificial happiness is meaningless. People are out there to sell you things that are supposed to make you happy. Product after product are there to give you a “happy” life. But when you boil them down they basically tell you to “think positive and you’ll be happy”.

But you can’t wish yourself to be happy—no matter what some people may tell you.  You can’t “affirm” your way out of it. That’s just a bunch of poop. But happiness—rather contentment–that comes from using our creative energy—that is promising.

So, next time you feel down, think about how you can use that energy to something creative. Even if “creative” means re-arranging your home or apartment.

Don’t let unhappiness control you. You control it. Make it work for you instead of against you. And you will see how powerful it can be. Like Robert Smith used his down times to create music, see what those times can do for you.  And with that, I leave you one of the tracks from “Disintegration” in which Smith used his negative energy to create.


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