Sometimes it is easier to see the dark side of everything, it seems easier to complain. Certainly it is harder to write about the normal everyday positive – there seems to be something inherently uninteresting about it. It’s hard to imagine a successful play, or film that dealt exclusively with positive happy experiences, while there are plenty of classic examples in which virtually every scene is tragic, dark. Yes, there are uplifting plays, books, and films, but aren’t they all set against some overall sad, tragic, or dark context?
It’s not just art, but also the news that struggles with the dominance of negative stories. Disasters, and discussions of problems are the name of the game, with a token positive story thrown in before the weather. It seems that wherever we look in the media we find that negative stories are more successful. We can look at evolutionary explanations, we can try to address the issue by making our own positive publications, but perhaps we need to accept the problem as part of the nature of things? Maybe projects like Positive News, great as they are, are vainly trying to solve the problem by denying it’s existence?
This is a problem for a site like this, in which you can see that it is easy for it to become a dark place, where people share problems and their negative experiences. This is not the aim. In deed, part of the experiment is to see if it is not possible to have a different form of conversation, and to develop a new language for discussing feelings. This post is the start of a conversation about what the nature of these ore positive modes of writing could be about.
In every day conversation, for instance the situation is almost reversed. When friends meet, the conversation is by social convention, on the whole, positive, humorous – even artificially so. Perhaps it is possible by encouraging writing between smaller groups, to allow a more balanced or constructive conversation about emotions? Perhaps there could be different modes of conversation and writing, from the personal, to small group and finally to public posts?
There are also specific techniques that can be used, a couple of which occurred to me recently, that I intend to make the subject of future posts. One suggestion is to use a technique that comes from group work, it is a form of brain storming in which a group starts discussing a problem area by posting up all the most negative things, complaints, problems and issues they have. These are then arranged on a board using post-it-notes, and arranged in clusters, and trees in which one problem is linked to another if the group considers it to be a cause of a bigger or higher problem. The shift in perspective happens when the facilitator “reverses” the entire language from negative to positive, from problems to aims or objectives. So for instance “the area is dirty and full of litter” gets transformed into “we want to live in an area that is clean and free of litter”. For the want of a better phrase or label, let’s call this technique “Black Magic”, that is a technique to turn dark, or black problems into positive language where we can start to look at solutions, or more positive ways of experiencing an emotion.
Another technique is to use art, music, photography and video. Certainly there are many creative uses, that material gathered on this site can be used for. Images and sounds that are collected and shared, as part of an individuals experience, can be used by others to refer to their own experience, or by an artist in their own work.
What other tools, or techniques could we use, to give a more balanced, positive or richer expression to the range of emotions we all feel?