Is ‘Negative Attitude’ Becoming Natural?

Several years ago, one of my students who was quite brilliant had a result that was below expectation at the end of a semester. She was so disturbed that she came to speak to me about it. After pointing out to her that she didn’t work as hard as she used to, I suggested that she should quickly put the temporary setback behind her and invest all her energy into the current semester. To my great surprise, the student didn’t look pleased at all; rather, she looked at me and said, “Sir, why won’t you just tell me things the way they are?” I wasn’t quite sure I knew what she was talking about, so I asked her to speak on. She said, “Sir, I expected you to come down very hard on me and tell me how stupid I was to have made the poor result. You are not supposed to spare me at all, but here you are telling me something ‘nice’”. “Well”, I said, “if you are looking for someone to beat you down and add to your current depression, you’ve come to the wrong person. I’m sure you’ll be able to find someone to help make you more depressed.”

It seems to me that a lot of people have lived so much with negative words and reactions from other people that they have come to believe it is the natural state of things. Like in the story above, some people feel you are not being sincere with them if you don’t rub their mistakes in their faces like every other person does. Our society has become so negative that we believe bad news twice as fast as we believe good news. If you receive two text messages on your mobile phone, one stating that you just won N500,000 in a promo and the other stating that 180 people just died in a plane crash, which would you readily believe? How did we arrive at this point? How come we have got to a place in our lives where we doubt good and believe bad?

While I was an undergraduate, one of my lecturers saw me reading a comedy book and she asked me why I should be wasting my time on such a book. She insisted that I should have been reading a tragedy because it was closer to real life. Really? If life is so tragic, wouldn’t it be double jeopardy to read tragic stories again? Abraham Lincoln made a profound statement which has been rendered in different ways but it generally states, “If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will”. Similarly, whoever looks for the bad in life expecting to find it will surely do.

Please don’t misunderstand me; my argument is not that there is nothing bad in life or that you should believe every promotional hoax that comes your way. My argument is that you need a positive attitude to achieve positive result in life.