Six ways that negativity can make you happy

To achieve any major life goal, conventional wisdom tells us we must think positively. Picture yourself delivering the perfect presentation and it shall be so; envisage the ideal job interview and it will go well; imagine yourself sprinting first across the finish line and you will romp home as champion. While these strategies sound compelling, they have been shown to backfire.

In the mini-series The Power of Negative Thinking, psychology writer Oliver Burkeman has been exploring the virtues of negativity and shows how it can be a surprisingly powerful route to joy, success and satisfaction.

1. Stop thinking positively. It doesn't work and will frequently backfire, badly.

2. Pessimism = success. You will be more successful when you focus on the reasons you're likely to fail.

3. Give up hoping. Hoping for the best often just gets in the way. Embrace feelings of hopelessness to motivate yourself.

4. Don't look to external sources to improve your overall happiness. In the long-run, winning the lottery won't make you any happier.

5. Don't try and make something fun. Forced fun is no fun whatsoever.

6. Confronting death can give you a new meaning in life. There is a path to happiness through thinking more about your own, and your loved ones', mortality.

Listen to psychology writer Oliver Burkeman's mini-series The Power of Negative Thinking.

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