I’m sure you’ve heard people say that you shouldn’t focus too much on the negative things in life, but rather that you should focus on the positive things instead. Instead of looking at the negative side of things, they say, you should look at the positive side and try to appreciate that. Perhaps you are also someone who shares the same opinion. I however have a different opinion: We should focus on the negative things instead. And I’ll explain why.

Focusing on the positive things in life seems to be human nature. When I see people doing this, I don’t blame them at all. In fact, I can very much understand why they do this. Imagine if you didn’t focus on all those small positive things in life, where would you get the inspiration and energy to keep on living? Life is so full of problems and it’s not easy to be happy and optimistic. In fact, it is quite impossible to be happy in life when you realize certain things and when you want to be really honest to yourself.

So this just makes the need even bigger for people to focus on the positive things. Even if those positive things sometimes don’t exist, they try to make them up instead. Religion is a perfect example of this. It serves to give people something positive to think about in life, something to hold onto, something to give them hope for the future, something to give their lives a purpose, something to explain the unknown to them to make them feel like they are in control and know what’s going on. Imagine if there were no religions, how would most people think of life? How would most people be able to live life without the comfort that religion offers them?

Another example is death. For as long as humans exist, they have been trying to put a positive spin around death. Religion has also been a great help in doing this. Death is another case where people have tried to make things up around it to make it look like something positive. “Yes, it sucks to die, but look at the bright side, you’re going to heaven!” Nobody is fooling me with this. Death is something negative. Nothing can explain that away. I’ll never accept it “as a normal part of life.” The sooner people stop fooling themselves and believing in all kinds of explanations for it, the sooner we’ll be more effective at looking for ways to solve this problem.

When something bad happens, or someone struggles with bad results or outcomes, people always say “Well I know it sucks, but look at the bright side…”, or, “It could have been worse, look at the positive side…” etc. That just serves as comfort. It serves to take our eyes away from the problem and to have us focus on something positive. It serves to make us think good about the situation or about ourselves. It serves to fool us.

We shouldn’t focus on the positive things so much. Instead, we should focus a lot more on the negative things in life. Why? It’s quite simple: Because those are the things that require our attention. We want to get better, don’t we? The positive things are already good and probably more or less where we want them to be. We should use our energy to get the negative things where we want them to be. It is unproductive and not of much use to keep ourselves occupied with the positive things in life and allow ourselves to be blinded by those things. It just serves to paralyze us to some extent to address the real issues. The problem is that people willfully do this most of the time. People would rather fool themselves to feel good, instead of facing the problems.

I see it happening around me every day. And what this does is limit the speed at which things can get better in life. Afterall, as long as people keep focusing too much on the positive things, they don’t sufficiently realize the need and urgency to take on solving or improving the negative things. And this isn’t just about improving life in the broad sense, but it starts at home, at the workplace, on a personal level. Sometimes I see people putting too much emphasis on the things they have achieved so far and what they currently have, instead of putting the most emphasis on what they have not (yet) achieved and what they don’t (yet) have. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t give yourself a pat on the back when you achieve something, but you shouldn’t be blinded by it. Give yourself a pat on the back for a few minutes and then forget about it and see the things you haven’t yet achieved or the problems that still exist and do something about them.

The important thing is that you have to know what you want in life or in a given situation. And if you don’t have it yet, do everything you possibly can to get it. Don’t be afraid to admit to yourself that there are things you’ve lost or don’t yet have, but really want. Especially don’t do this to make yourself feel like you have (achieved) everything you want in order to feel happy about it. Don’t look at what you DO have and try to think about that in a positive way. It doesn’t benefit you in any real way, other than to give you comfort, and to try to make you feel satisfied.

Don’t fool yourself. Know what’s missing, what could be better and what’s wrong, and focus on those things! It will only make you a better person. Be honest to yourself and be realistic about your expectations.