Good mental health is more about “flexible” thinking than “positive”

Good mental health is more about “flexible” thinking than “positive”

Having read thousands of research articles and books; having tried all the recommended strategies myself, I’m a big fan of “optimism”.

There’s no doubt it’s important for good mental health and for happiness.

But there’s also no doubt that optimism is often misunderstood, too often thought of as being “positive thinking”, and that’s not really what it is.

Optimism does, obviously, involve elements of positivity but more so, it’s about helpful thinking.

And what’s helpful changes; so our goal should really be “flexible thinking” which is what this great article by Arash Ememzadeh in Psychology Today is all about …

This post summarizes key findings from an article by J. Everaert, published in the October 2021 issue of Current Opinion in Psychology, which discusses research on interpretation biases in depression.

Cognitive Distortions, Interpretation Biases, and Depression

Suppose you’re leaving a party, when, suddenly, you notice a guest looking at you and frowning. Why is the person frowning?

Perhaps he’s sad that everyone is leaving. Maybe he is experiencing some physical pain and distress. Then again, the guest might be angry at a thing you said or did at the party.

Making sense of ambiguities is an important part of life. After all, many individuals in our lives—e.g., coworkers, friends, classmates, spouses, children, parents—sometimes speak or behave in ways open to interpretation.

How one interprets these ambiguities is influenced by a variety of factors, including personality traits and mental health conditions. For instance, many individuals with anxiety and depression are prone to cognitive distortions or thinking errors.

Common cognitive distortions include:

  • Arbitrary inference: Jumping to conclusions (e.g., because a friend did not call you as promised, he/she must hate you).
  • CatastrophizingAssigning a high likelihood to the worst-case scenario (e.g., a breakup means you will die alone).
  • “Should” statements: Having unreasonable expectations (e.g., a good teacher should never make mistakes).
  • Personalizing: Self-blame for a negative outcome not fully under one’s control (e.g., you blame yourself for your parents’ divorce).
  • Black-and-white thinking: Viewing experiences as either all good or all bad (e.g., since you made a spelling error in the love letter you sent, the love letter is worthless).
  • Labeling: Labeling oneself based on a behavior (e.g., because you lost the game, you’re a loser and a failure).

Cognitive distortions are challenged in therapy using techniques like cognitive restructuring, a typical component of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE