Life often finds itself face-to-face with moments of sadness, sorrow, despair, loneliness, and hard times. And we often come across advice such as, 'think positive' and 'be positive' or 'keep a positive attitude', so on and so forth. I know this is easier said than done. At times it is more important to be realistic than get carried away in this 'be positive' bandwagon. In some situations it is wiser to cut your losses, and deal with problems with a fresh perspective.
Positive emotions obviously are most pleasant and easy to handle but it is also quite normal to be worried sometimes, or utterly sad, or sometimes even feel miserable, disappointed or hopeless. If we are to be true to ourselves, we have to admit that all these emotions and state of mind can have the power to teach us new things about ourselves, they can make us stronger and more self-confident, if we go through such difficult times and still gain hope for the future.
Without the negative emotions, feelings, and thoughts that may naturally occur when we have to face difficult times in our lives, we may, in fact, never truly appreciate sheer and genuine happiness.
Of course, it can all depend on what we want to call "happiness" or positive attitude. We may refer to what certain famous philosophers understood by this word. The Greek philosopher Aristotle used to say that the ideal life is called 'eudaimonia' which, in translation, means "happiness". What Aristotle meant by happiness did not refer to any sensory pleasures, nor did he encourage a daydream of a life, in which one may have the illusion that things are better than they are in reality.
Aristotle's idea of happiness is rather closer to the idea of all-encompassing, of completion, than to the feeling, too often based on pleasure, that we may call "happiness". In the ancient philosopher's perspective, "eudaimonia" meant to live in accord with one's personal reason, to fulfill one's sense of becoming, to perform our civic duties and lead a virtuous life, to be completely involved in the surrounding world and most of all, to experiment the richness of love and human relationships.
In fact, not only Aristotle, but psychology experts also say that we may find most satisfactions within the framework of human interaction and relationships. Personal relationships can give us a feeling of fulfillment and joy, but let us remember that they can often be disorganized, unpredictable, changing. They can often make us feel lost, disappointed, betrayed, worried or just plain sad.
Human relationships have so many things to teach us. When we feel miserable and rejected, we may often think that life is unfair, uncertain and unpleasant. Therefore, in such moments, we are very likely in fact to consider happiness to be a justified, proper aim in our lives, or even a "natural state of mind". But this perspective may be wrong, as by it we ignore the fact that we are more complex than that, and that sadness is just as strong an emotion as intense joy. We have to admit also that feelings of joy, exaltation, enthusiasm, etc., can only gain their value by contrast with their opposite - disappointment, suffering or sadness.
When people go through dramatic changes, such as losing jobs, losing someone dear, divorce, a salary cut, or other such bad things, their level of anxiety goes up. This manifests by a lot of stress, sadness and sometimes even panic. We may in fact be in danger of seeing happiness as something that can and needs to be controlled by us. When we lose control over it, i.e. we lose our joy and tranquility, we simply freak out. So it's better to think positive than negative, but perhaps it's best to have a realistic perspective on life, to embrace all that we are, and LIVE.