Hearts and Minds

Negative and Positive in Life and Business

You are very likely to have read in so many self-help books that we need to be positive in order to be happy, think again! What is so wrong with poor old negative? Think of a time when you had set your mind on something and, at the last moment, withdrew. You might have been right or you might have been wrong. None of us can look into the future. It takes courage to make an important decision.

The only two multi-millionaires I got to know well were both my clients when I was a psychotherapist. You might well ask why they needed my help. Making money is one thing. Managing relationships is another. Because they had been commercially successful I asked both of them, separately of course, if they thought they were optimists. To my surprise both gave the same response: “Oh no. I am a pessimist.” I then asked each one why and how they believed pessimism was useful. Each one gave me a similar response.

“I watch out for a possible deal, especially one that no-one else has thought of. Then I take a piece of paper. On the left side I write all the reasons why I should take up this enterprise and on the right I put down all the reasons for not doing it. One side might be longer than the other but it isn’t necessarily the best. I pick the one that carries the most weight. On the whole this works well.”

This was very helpful to me. What they were both saying, in a nutshell, was that we must not let our hearts rule our minds. I realised that all three of my major enterprises were decided largely by my feelings. I discovered that what my method had been was to jump into the deep end and swim like mad to survive. All three ventures worked but if I had thought harder before I took them on I now realise I could have avoided some bad mistakes and anxiety.

I realised that nothing exists without its opposite. Here are a few examples.

  • There is no love without hatred
  • There is no good without evil
  • There is no cold without heat
  • There is no madness without sanity
  • There is no day without night

The great philosopher Erasmus (1468-1536) said at the end of his life that we are all capable of all kinds of human behaviour.

There is a lovely word enanteodromia, coined by the great psychoanalyst C.G.Jung which means the tendency of things to turn into their opposites.

The philosopher Bertrand Russell said we are told that man is a rational animal, but he searched hard in three continents and found that this was not the case.

Wittgenstein visited a hospital for the insane and said he found a patient there who was far more intelligent than any of the doctors.

When we think we are certain about something we should beware. Most of the harm done in the world is caused by people who think they are right.

Too much of anything becomes tedious. I think this is why so many healthy male adults rush to enlist when a major war begins, as in World War 1 and World War 2. What everyone knows, especially those of us who bring up boys, is that they love to exercise their bodies and strengthen themselves in order to develop athletically. Before both these wars and on both sides, Germany and England, there was a large number of young men who were leading boring lives and longed to measure their strength against their peers. There is a time for excitement and a time for calm.

Electricity does not work without a positive and a negative force. Let us stop thinking of why we are dissatisfied and how we can make the right kind of changes in our lives. The two greatest assets we all have are inherited instincts / feelings and our human brain. Our species, homo sapiens, is the only one in the entire animal kingdom that developed the ability to communicate through words. The whole of civilisation depends on words as a way of communication and enables us to be able to think with words. Here is a short list of some of the things we know that other animals cannot:

  1. Consciousness of time, which means we know we have been born and will die.
  2. Create inventions including all the technology that make our lives much easier.

Notice what is going on around us in nature which has led us to categorise how nature works. Aristotle was the first to do this by realising that one word, science, was not good enough amd devised different names for different kinds of sciences such as mathematics and physics.

Above all we have the ability to think logically which enables us to study and make sense which includes knowing the difference between beliefs and facts.

Since we are still animals we need to remember that we are every bit affected by our instincts. The greatest cause of all our problems is that although we have the ability to think , so many of us from all walks of life do not make the best use of our greatest tool.