Negativity Is Contagious



Because of a snowy day that forced me to spend more time in the office, which means access to the virtual world, I spent an hour earlier today surfing the net, researching negativity.  And I found it is a true affliction, and one that is far more predominant in areas with long winters, mountains, and a history of poverty.  Sound familiar?

Multiple studies have shown that complaining is actually worse than doing nothing, because it enforces a sense of doom and self-defeat.  People who complain often miss the point that it sometimes takes work to appreciate what one has, rather than bemoaning what one wants.  A negative attitude causes physical and mental stress, it weakens your immune system, and I found one study that tried to argue that the number of years one maintains a pessimistic outlook is the number of years by which that person can expect his life to be shortened.

The central characteristic of the negative person: an intense desire to have the world behave according to his wishes.  When it does not, he acts petulantly, like a child, refusing to cope with the world as it is.  Also, negative people attract other negative people, because, ironically, they crave affirmation, even if they most often drain energy from those they are around.  The source of their misery may come from many things, but the most prevalent are a hatred of their job, a feeling of being trapped in a life not of their choosing, or a serious lack of self-esteem.

And I quote from one of the studies:

Consumers were presented with information about a new product and allowed to independently form their evaluations. As would be normally expected with many products, some of these evaluations were positive and others negative.

The researchers then revealed to participants whether their peers evaluated the product negatively or positively. They found that the opinions of others exert especially strong influence on individual attitudes when these opinions are negative. Additionally, consumers that privately held positive attitudes toward the product were more susceptible to influence from group opinion than those who initially held negative opinions.

Furthermore, the researchers also found that those with negative opinions of the product were likely to become even more negative if asked to participate in a group discussion: "When consumers expect to interact with other consumers through these forums, learning the views of these other consumers may reinforce and even polarize their opinions, making them more negative," the researchers reveal,

So, participating in group discussion with The Nancies, have I inadvertently helped them spawn more of their ilk?  If that's the case, forgive me Coach, forgive me Team.

One last thing:  a therapist wrote that the best way to deal with pessimists is to listen to whatever current piece of doom and gloom they have to offer and then respond:  "Ok, now tell me something positive."

So, go ahead, try it.  Tell me something positive.

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