Negativity and Positivity, Trying to Find Balance

When things get out of whack

4 min readSep 3, 2021


Photo by Jay Lamm on Unsplash

The Chinese concept of yin and yang, which is embedded in Daoism and Buddhism, recognizes that everything must be kept in balance, even when it seems that the world is crashing around us. The general news right now is wildly negative and I’m struggling to find the positive. But I know it’s out there.

Curiously enough, this article is not about that news, it is about creativity, in particular, writing. One of the most enduring self-help books ever is The Power of Positive Thinking by Dale Carnegie. It is the model for virtually every similar book published in that genre. I read it when I was a kid.

It sat on my parent’s bookshelf next to a wide array of books on many topics. Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, American history books, Tolstoy, and many others. I worked my way through all of them, including Carnegie’s ode to thinking positively no matter what was going on. But even as a kid, I knew that pretending everything was great all the time was not realistic.

In fact, it was kind of boring.

Most self-help books are boring when it comes down to it. We consume these things because we are searching for something, a cure for inner turmoil. And they can give comfort when we are hurting. I know, some have seemed to appear in my life when I really needed a boost.

But when I returned to them later, in a better state of mind, they usually proved to be pretty lame motivational baloney. And I know why.

Conflict and obstacles are necessary for growth. Yin and yang.

A story without conflict is unreadable. Pretending the world and our lives should be relentlessly cheery is beyond unrealistic, and writing like that is the case will be lifeless. This is not a bad thing.

This morning the combined weight of bad news from all over the planet dragged me down. It just seemed that I was watching the end of things. And I was sitting in a sunny living room with a cappuccino while outside it was a lovely early fall day. Yin and yang.

I kept reading the news, not realizing I was seeking something to balance things out. Not an upbeat story- the media aren’t crazy about those. Something in…




Mastodon:, Writer, nine non-fiction books, two novels, Buddhist, train lover. Amateur cook, lover of life most of the time!