In defense of negative thinking.

Steve QJ
4 min readMar 23, 2020

Positivity is having a moment right now. When life gives you lemons you should make lemonade. Everything happens for a reason. It’s always darkest before the dawn, and if it’s especially dark right now, you haven’t been buried, you’ve been planted. All you need to do is bloom!

As with almost everything wrong with the world, social media is to blame. Social media has made it easier than ever to enjoy unprecedented, unfiltered access to people who richer, more beautiful and and more successful than the rest of us mere mortals, and thousands more people who make their living by telling us all how we can be just like them if we just think positively enough.

Conspicuously absent from these testimonies, are the people who credit their success to the doors opened by well-connected parents, preternaturally good looks, or a rare, God given talent that occurs only once or twice in a generation, and so their success is held up as all the evidence we need that if we just think positively enough we can achieve the same results.

But as we hopefully already know, life isn’t quite so simple. If you’ll forgive the gender stereotyping, “not every little girl gets to do what they want. The world could not support that many ballerinas”.

A brain of two halves.

For the sake of convenience, let’s think of your mind as being made up of two parts; the rational mind and emotional mind. The rational mind is the part that stops and considers things, that weighs up the data before coming to a conclusion, and the emotional mind is the part that reacts instinctively, that colours our natural outlook on the world.

It may surprise you to learn that this outlook is typically negative, not positive, but from an evolutionary standpoint this makes a lot of sense. After all, back when we were living alongside wild animals, the strategy that best increased our chances of survival was to presume the worst of every new thing that came along. There wasn’t time to stop and weigh things up rationally. In the split second available to decide whether what we were facing was something we could handle or something we couldn’t, negative thinking was to be preferred.

But now that our lives are mostly safe, it’s become socially disadvantageous to be negative. In…

Steve QJ

Race. Politics. Culture. Sometimes other things. Almost always polite. Find more at