Good Vibes Only Sometimes

And honesty in the negative and bad


Frankly, I’ve never understood the “Good Vibes Only” meme that’s been circulating probably forever (i.e., the hippie era?) —and has made some particularly favorable rounds in places like Instagram.

“Good Vibes Only” is a fast track to denial and falsities; some weak-ass attempt at ushering your life into a candy-land facade. “Good Vibes Only” is a child’s motto — something best kept in preschools, where the sole objective is to protect and nurture sensitive little minds and hearts. “Good Vibes Only” is not for adults.

If you think this just sounds negative, you’re absolutely right. It literally is.

But you’re wrong in thinking that that’s “bad.” Because while it doesn’t get us anywhere to complain or criticize or whine — especially if we do nothing to resolve things — it does us tremendous benefit to at least honor negative things, and to experience them fully. If for no other reason than that of comparison, and appreciating the positive things more fully. Because if you spend time honoring the negative in your life, you’ll appreciate the positive more.

Life is hard. But this isn’t our real problem. The real problem is that we are forced to pretend that life isn’t hard, and then life comes at us anyway, because it’s life. And if we’re pretending it’s not and refusing to acknowledge it, clinging to our “good vibes only,” it’s going to knock us on our asses even as we’re whimpering about how we want things and how they’re not.

As psychology Svend Brinkmann wrote in Stand Firm: Resisting the Self-Improvement Craze,

“You must dare to face negativity. You might be able to make some positive changes but, quite simply, the negative aspects of life are here to stay. Accept it… if we are blinkered, positive and optimistic all of the time, we run the risk of the shock being all the greater when things do go wrong for us.”

Our entire lives — and everyone in them — are only on loan to us. And the more that we face that head on, rather than dodge any “sad” or “negative” thoughts, the more we can appreciate the “good vibes” as we get them.

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