Be genuine, ease depression

The power of positive thinking is advocated from pop-psychology pulpits on almost every lecture circuit and media stage. We are encouraged at every turn to think well of ourselves and to pat ourselves on the back at every opportunity. Yes, positivity has its benefits but it would seem it also has its limits.

Around 3000 participants took part in this study across the United States and in Hong Kong.

The research involved the subjects taking an academic test and then rating their performance and comparing it to that of other subjects. After this, all participants took a questionnaire that is widely used to assess symptoms of depression.

The results showed that those who rated their own performance as much higher than it actually was were significantly more likely to feel depressed. As an interesting side-note, 63 per cent of American respondents rated their performance more highly than they actually achieved. Only 49 per cent of Asian participants fell into this category.

The beneficial effects of being positive probably arise from the attitudes and nature that underlie that positivity. Recitation of positive words and phrases may simply create a feeling of dissonance between what is being said and what is being felt. Changing the attitude is the thing, not changing the language. The problem is, that takes time and goodwill and perseverance and it is hard to sell in CD form.

At the end of it all, there’s no substitute for some honest self-awareness.

The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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