Life

It now seems that negativity is not all bad

Let's use the negativity to our advantage and remember we don't need to feel bad about having bad thoughts

WE'VE all heard the old saying, 'just look on the bright side'. We try our best to stay positive about life, no matter what is thrown at us, right?

Many believe happiness is a choice - so why not choose to be happy?

But when life loses its lustre or throws you a curve ball, it's hard to remain positive - it gets harder to focus on anything apart from the negatives or things that are going wrong.

Book shelves in libraries and shops are filled with volumes on how we can choose happiness. But one such publication to grace the shelves appears to shy away from the spin on positive outlooks for life.

Instead it tells us that negative thoughts are in fact useful in making us happy.

Psychologist Susan David of Harvard Medical School argues that we actually need negative thoughts in our heads and in our lives.

Her book, Emotional Agility, examines how and why we are encouraged to ignore thoughts of criticism and negativity, but really, we should be embracing these feelings.

"We're encouraged to challenge the very existence of these thoughts and try to rationalise them away," she said.

"The prevailing wisdom - and certainly management and self-improvement strategies - says that difficult thoughts and feelings have no value - and they certainly have no place."

But Ms David argues that negative thoughts are perfectly natural and, providing we respond correctly, they are in fact useful to our overall health and happiness.

She says that silencing negativity goes against our basic human biology.

"All healthy human beings have an inner stream of thoughts and feelings that include criticism, doubt and fear," she added.

"Whether we 'bottle' or 'brood', we're made to feel guilty about even having critical, doubtful or fearful thoughts. But negative thoughts and emotions exist for a reason - to help us survive as a species."

I've always believed that people with a positive outlook in life have more upbeat emotions and don't get 'down in the dumps'.

We all do our best to stay positive, but occasionally we can slip into those negative thinking patterns that can wreak havoc on our lives. We get hooked on the undesirable thoughts and feelings in our heads, bottle them up and start treating them as fact.

I often have negative thoughts swirling around in my head, 'I look terrible today' or 'I'm not spending enough time with my kids' are among the regular criticisms I have.

I also worry about past mistakes or current stresses, and how these could lead to negative outcomes in the future.

Or then there's the over-analysing, which I often catch myself doing, reading into a situation way more than I really should. It's very easy to get worries into your head and obsess about the things that could go wrong.

And then there's the scenario that when one bad thing happens, it leads to a complete domino effect of other bad things.

So to actually read that negativity in our lives can help is a wonderful welcome relief.

Let's use the negativity to our advantage and remember that we don't need to feel bad about having bad thoughts in our heads.

Becoming aware of negative thoughts and feelings, softening them and seeing them for what they are is vital. Learning how to stay in the present, lose the weight of the past and not worrying about what may happen in the future is important.

The main thing also is that it's up to you how you view life.

Being positive is a choice. Just because things don't go as planned doesn't mean that you can't have a happy life that is complete and fulfilling.

Negativity, it seems, is not all bad.

------------------------------------------

Competition

If I Forget You is at once a great love story and a moving exploration of what it means to love and to lose and how the choices we make can change our lives forever.

From the bestselling author, T C Greene, If I Forget You is a classic tale about true love and missed connections, and a beautiful exploration of what it means to find the person you are destined to be with, but then spend a lifetime apart.

When Margot and Henry meet, they fall deeply in love. And then they lose each other.

But Henry can't forget Margot and Margot is haunted by her memories of Henry. They live in each other's minds.

Twenty-one years later, they meet, by chance, on a Manhattan street. And that's where their story truly begins.

If I Forget You is a beautiful exploration of what it means to find the person you are destined to be with, but then spend a lifetime apart.

I have three copies of the book to give away. For your chance to win, simply email your name, address and telephone number - along with the answer to the question below - to competitions@irishnews.com

Closing date for entries is Tuesday October 4 at noon.

(Q) Name the author of the novel If I Forget You?

Normal Irish News Rules Apply

-------------------------------------------

What's Hot!

Be More Social - From world class restaurants to some of the world's leading cultural attractions, Northern Ireland is bursting at the seams with places and things to do. But it can be expensive getting out and about. A new smart phone app, OhhSocial, has been launched to help provide details of everything from family-friendly deals, couple's packages and special treats. The app is available to download on iTunes and Google Play.

Help for charity - Tearfund have been given a boost by the announcement that the Henderson Group, owners of the SPAR and EUROSPAR, are to support the charity. The company will be donating 10p from the sale of any of their breakfast bread products to help fund one million meals for families in West and Central African countries.

What's Not!

Not looking in the mirror - The Fall actor Jamie Dornan says he cannot stand the sight of his own face. The Co Down star may have fans swooning over him, but he says he really hates how he looks.

Strictly no tanning - Ed Balls has admitted he is 'weakening' under pressure to get a spray tan to give him a glow on Strictly Come Dancing. The former shadow chancellor said he was not keen on getting some fake colour for the dance floor.

------------------------------------------

Competition winners

The winners of last week's Wedding Journal Show tickets are Kerie McKernan from Omagh, Christine Breen from Lurgan, Rosemary Donnelly from Belfast, Renee Doyle from Ballyclare, Angela Gorman from Larne, Julie McAleese from Glarryford, Rachel Finch from Belfast, Beverley Pierson from Moira, Rebecca Crawley from Lislea and Josephine Yendall from Carnlough.

------------------------------------------

Easy Peasy Recipe

This week's Easy Peasy Recipe is Spring Green Spiralised Courgette Salad, courtesy of Marks and Spencer.

You will need:

For the Pesto:

120g fresh spinach leaves

50g pine nut

1 garlic clove

125ml extra virgin olive oil

50g fresh Parmesan

1 lemon

1 pinch salt and pepper

250g M&S courgette spaghetti

150g frozen petits pois

25g mint leaves

1 large handful of rocket

To make:

Mince the garlic cloves. Grate the fresh Parmesan. Chop the mint leaves.

To make the pesto, place spinach, garlic and pine nuts in a food processor.

Blitz to a course puree.

Transfer to a bowl, and add the olive oil and parmesan. Mix well.

Squeeze in lemon juice, to taste.

Season with salt and pepper - it will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.

Add the peas, and cook for 2-3 mins.

Drain, and refresh under cold water.

Set aside to cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine the courgette, peas, mint and 5 tablespoons of pesto.

Stir through the rocket last.

Squeeze some lemon over the salad, and serve.

Do you have an Easy Peasy recipe you would like to share?

Are you the queen of quiches, magnificent at muffins or can you turn out some nice scones?

If so, then we want to hear from you.

You can send your name, address, contact number and recipe (plus photo if possible) to:

Easy Peasy Recipes,

Suzanne McGonagle,

Irish News

113-117 Donegall Street,

Belfast,

BT1 2GE

or

s.mcgonagle@irishnews.com

Today's horoscope

Horoscope


See a different horoscope: