Is it ‘cheesy’ to be positive?


I have been noticing lately in both professional and personal settings that there seems to be a somewhat consistent belief in the US culture that being positive is cheesy, self-righteous, or otherwise a negative process (ironic). Whether you are a modernist or a postmodernist (or something else) most people agree that our thoughts and beliefs have a significant impact on our quality of life. How then can we increase our quality of life if having positive beliefs and using techniques to increase positive beliefs is ‘cheesy’? Many of us have accepted a belief system which does not allow us to give ourselves positive compliments for the things that we do right or well… at the same time many of us are perfectly comfortable about pointing out flaws or other negative observations about ourselves. Perhaps you might choose to no longer carry this belief about positivity and negativity. Perhaps you never wanted to believe that being positive was “cheesy.” How would your quality of life be affected if you allowed more positive beliefs and thoughts into your reality?

Is it ‘cheesy’ to be an optimist and ‘cool’ to be a pessimist?


Is it unintelligent to be positive and realistic and/or intelligent to be negative? Many people seem to think so… why?


Why does the news spend most of their time on problems and catastrophes and very little time on solutions and accomplishments?

This thought process concerning ‘positivity being cheesy’ started when I gave more attention to observing peoples thoughts and beliefs surrounding somewhat benign occurrences…

I noticed the incredibly negative things that people said about themselves when they were:

  • a few minutes late, had forgot an fairly minor chore, had a relatively insignificant driving error, had missed a small part of their hygiene routine, couldn’t recall a trivial piece of information, or had procrastinated just a bit etc…


I then came to the realization that I almost never hear people stating positive things about the very same topics…

  • “I am happy I remembered to brush my teeth”… “I drove very well on the way over here”…”look at me, I’m on time again”… “wow… good for me, I remembered that date from my eighth grade history class” etc…


It dawned on me that it appears that the average person states and/or thinks significantly more negative things about themselves then positive things over the course of a day… this is not true for every one, but is it true for you?

  • Quickly sum up about how many negative things that you have said and/or thought about yourself today… now compare that number to the amount about positive statements and/or thoughts you have suggested to yourself.


Many people have been given the suggestion of using positive affirmations to help bring positivity into their lives.

  • A positive affirmation is simply stating something positive about yourself or your life setting… giving yourself some credit for the ways in which you are good, successful, competent, agreeable, pleasing etc…


 If I told you to engage in such an exercise what would be your immediate response?

  • What thoughts would you think about the exercise, and what thoughts would you think if you were to allow yourself to participate in the exercise?


Exercise –

go ahead now and try… say something positive about yourself… give yourself credit for an accomplishment… give an example of a time this week in which you were successful. (Example, “I remembered to close the curtains for the second day in a row… way to go for helping my heating bill!”)

–         Now I want you to notice if there was any resistance to this exercise… try to rate your resistance on a scale of one to ten… what was the degree of your resistance?

Now do the opposite… say something negative about yourself… state a character flaw… state an example of a time during the week in which you ‘messed up’. (Example, “I forgot to close the curtains for the second day in a row… I am hurting my heating bill!”)

–         Now I want you to notice if there was any resistance to this exercise… try to rate your resistance on a scale of one to ten… what was the degree of your resistance?

I am sure you all get the point… for whatever reason it is easier to be negative than it is to be positive… this phenomenon is based on a belief that you either consciously or unconsciously hold about being positive and being negative… about being pessimistic or being optimistic… about the glass being half full or half empty etc…

It is your choice… you have the freedom to believe anything you choose.

What if you changed your belief to the following?

  • Being negative about my self is bad for my health and overall wellness.


  • Being positive about my self is good for my health and my overall wellness.


  • I am going to do what is good for my health.


The interesting things about all this rambling is that it is ultimately based in what science would call truth… being positive is good for your health.


Being negative is like eating junk food… being positive is life eating healthy vegetable and getting exercise………………………………


(note: yes I now that ‘my self’ is spelled ‘myself’ and in my mind my and self are separate and it makes it very difficult for me to agree that I should spell it ‘myself’ it would be like writing ‘foresttree’ instead of ‘forest tree’… ha ha ha ha heeee….)


How did something as awesomely magnificent as cheese get caught up in this negative meaning implied in being ‘cheesy’? Being ‘cheesy’ should be the most ultimate positive compliment.

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.