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  1. #1

    Eliminating the Negative is More Powerful than Increasing the Positive

    As the title says, eliminating the negative experiences in life produces a more powerful effect on happiness than increasing positive. This is a research-based statement, not just idle speculation. From The Myths of Happiness, by Sonja Lyubomirsky:

    "Happiness is not just about feeling good -- it's also about not feeling bad. Diminishing negative experiences (like the worry associated with debt) brings a three- to five-fold greater return on happiness than creating positive experiences (like buying a new television). [....] Psychologists refer to this truth as 'bad is stronger than good' or 'pain is more potent than pleasure. As I mentioned in chapter 2, two decades of research has demonstrated that we net a much bigger emotional 'hit' from negative experiences (from which we sometimes never bounce back) than we obtain a boost from positive experiences (which we rapidly get used to)" (p. 151).

    What that means is, if you want to live a happier and more contented life, the first strategy should be to reduce or eliminate negative experiences, rather than pursuing positive ones. That gives you more bang for the buck, approximately 3 to 5 times greater return on happiness.

    When I heard this, I immediately thought of how it applies to avoiding serious romantic-sexual relationships with women, and all the benefits to happiness that accrue from that choice. Yes, of course there are positive experiences to be had in romantic-sexual relationships. But think about all of the negative experiences we avoid, by avoiding serious romantic-sexual relationships.

    Here is a partial list:

    Loss of freedom
    Loss of time and energy that could've gone elsewhere
    Loss of financial resources that could've gone elsewhere
    Stress about how the Relationship is going
    The stress involved in shaping yourself to be (or pushing back against) what a woman wants
    The stress of having to "maintain frame" all the time
    Partial loss of ability to self-determine your own course
    Partial loss of control over where your money gets spent
    Loss of peace, quiet, and tranquility
    Increase stress and drama from the relationship dynamics
    Increase stress and drama from in-law relations, other family members
    The discomfort of having to deal with having someone else in your space
    Increase in complications and mental clutter
    Less ability to enjoy other relationships (friends, family, animals)
    Less time to get out and enjoy nature
    Less time and energy for enjoyable hobbies
    Less time and energy to pursue other interests that add to your life
    The chore of dating, the awkwardness and work involved
    All the wasted time and effort of dating that goes nowhere
    The strain of having to listen to talk about stuff you aren't interested in
    The stress of arguments, disagreements, conflicts
    The stress of the end of relationships, and most end
    The stress of declining sexual interest over time
    The work of having to be the sexual initiator and main performer
    The risk of getting into relationship with someone with major personality issues
    The risk of getting into relationship with someone with depression, anxiety, or addiction
    The stresses of dealing with the child, if the woman is a single mother
    The stress of rejection
    Divorce
    Alimony
    Child support payments

    I'm sure there are other negatives I missed.


    My point is, eliminating the negatives is a very effective strategy for increasing life happiness, and by going your own way, you are eliminating a ton of negatives.

  2. #2
    Senior Member mgtower's Avatar
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    Re: Eliminating the Negative is More Powerful than Increasing the Positive

    Retrain your mind and your life's sure to follow like a rocket sled on rail!

    Great thread!
    Esta' perfecto viva!
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  3. #3
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    Re: Eliminating the Negative is More Powerful than Increasing the Positive

    "Counting your blessings" "Thanking God for unanswered prayers".

    Two phrases that come to mind. I used to be friends with a woman who would always be angry, always complain about something. She never saw what she already had, what was around her. Instead of thinking about what you want or don't have. Think about what you do have. That could be something as simple as sitting in your backyard. It does not have to be some monumental achievement or material item you have attained.

    I used to really want to become a manager and I achieved that. It was terrible. Not just from the perspective of workload but also the hours, the lack of job satisfaction. I managed to actually demote myself and all these years later I still get asked if I want to step up. Also think about where the bad times in your life have led you. What you thought was bad back then is perhaps now not so bad or led you to something better, led you to learn about yourself.

    In the end it is all about how you want to see things. Negatives don't have to be destructive.

  4. #4
    Member McDudeski McGee's Avatar
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    Re: Eliminating the Negative is More Powerful than Increasing the Positive

    The OP describes an excellent way of thinking about pleasure and pain. As a variation on this theme, Schopenhauer denied the existence of pleasure completely as a real quality, defining it as the absence or negation of pain; desire as desire is pointless since all desires evaporate when realized. Some of the European ancients considered both pleasure and pain as violent properties, with the Epicureans avoiding each in favor of blessed apathy, and the Stoics practicing tough indifference in favor of impersonal rationality.

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    Senior Member mgtower's Avatar
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    Re: Eliminating the Negative is More Powerful than Increasing the Positive

    Quote Originally Posted by McDudeski McGee View Post
    The OP describes an excellent way of thinking about pleasure and pain. As a variation on this theme, Schopenhauer denied the existence of pleasure completely as a real quality, defining it as the absence or negation of pain; desire as desire is pointless since all desires evaporate when realized. Some of the European ancients considered both pleasure and pain as violent properties, with the Epicureans avoiding each in favor of blessed apathy, and the Stoics practicing tough indifference in favor of impersonal rationality.
    Well said, a stoic cookie cuts his world and makes no acceptations as to which side of the line the dough lands on, the scraps are recycled and recut regardless, it's a mechanical approach to decision making, it's best said, "if thy hand offend thee, cut it off"---Mark 9:43

    Trimming the pitfalls from your life and pulling the weeds is stoic. It's a badass weapon against living a life riddled with hard times!
    Any man that seeks leadership outside himself has a fool for a guide.

  6. #6

    Re: Eliminating the Negative is More Powerful than Increasing the Positive

    Oh yeah, and STDs. I forgot about good old STDs.

    And false allegations.

  7. #7

    Re: Eliminating the Negative is More Powerful than Increasing the Positive

    Is eliminating the negative a choice though? People never willingly keep negativity in their lives, 99% of negativity is chronic and the extent to which you can change it is controlled by the environment you live in.
    Last edited by throwawayeh; September 21, 2021 at 1:19 PM.

  8. #8

    Re: Eliminating the Negative is More Powerful than Increasing the Positive

    Quote Originally Posted by throwawayeh View Post
    Is eliminating the negative a choice though? People never willingly keep negativity in their lives, 99% of negativity is chronic and the extent to which you can change it is controlled by the environment you live in.
    I believe that ultimately it is a choice. Getting the monkey off your back and learn to forgive so the person/situation doesn't control you anymore.
    Any outcome of an occasion or situation in your life is greatly influenced by how you choose to react to it.

  9. #9
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    Re: Eliminating the Negative is More Powerful than Increasing the Positive

    I think where some people go wrong is failing to get rid of life baggage that's 90% negative because they want to hang onto the 10% that's positive -- the part they get a lot of satisfaction from. It's understandable, but frankly I don't see much wisdom in it.

    Nothing is 100% positive; we do live in a fallen world, and people misbehave terribly on a daily basis. I think each person must decide for himself what the minimal ratio of positive to negative is for a situation to be acceptable.

    Putting up with things that are primarily negative may make sense in the short term, if the eventual payback is positive. That can often make the daily burden less onerous, because the endpoint is always in view.

  10. #10

    Re: Eliminating the Negative is More Powerful than Increasing the Positive

    Quote Originally Posted by throwawayeh View Post
    Is eliminating the negative a choice though? People never willingly keep negativity in their lives, 99% of negativity is chronic and the extent to which you can change it is controlled by the environment you live in.
    Oh sure it is. All of the examples I listed in the OP, for example, are entirely avoidable, by choice.

    And people do willingly keep negativity in their lives -- often because they see an upside that balances it out, or else do not have the fortitude to cut it out (e.g., they are dependent on it in some way, or are afraid of the repercussions if they cut it out). There wouldn't be a therapy profession if people didn't invite negativity in for dinner, expose themselves to it, tolerate it, create it, enable it, and so forth.

    Of course, some negatives are unavoidable -- natural disasters, accidents, disease and death, loss, etc. -- but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about negativity that is avoidable or at least reducible. And there are huge swaths of that. And as Victor Frankl pointed out, even when you're faced with unavoidable negativity, you still have a choice of what attitude you take towards it. That's a choice, too.

  11. #11
    Member Bubbles1999's Avatar
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    Re: Eliminating the Negative is More Powerful than Increasing the Positive

    That's very interesting. Stoicism would be a great way to cut out all interest in the negative things you cant control (a lot) and remove illogical negativity.

    Leaving mainstream media, pornography and videogames has also helped me become a happier person.

  12. #12
    Senior Member happybachelor's Avatar
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    Re: Eliminating the Negative is More Powerful than Increasing the Positive

    I agree, since the natural state of things ie REALITY is love, order, balance, peace.
    If you remove all the shit then this is what remains.
    I actually think that as you remove the negative you start generating the positive for yourself.
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    When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing. They then become capable of believing in anything.



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