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23 Negative Words From A More Optimistic Perspective

I get it–looking at things from a more optimistic perspective isn't exactly the easiest thing to do. After all, we live in a world where one can be exposed to negativity at the touch of a button–literally.

"Think positive," we say, as we silently complain about all the things that don't seem to be working out right now.

"Hold on," we say, as we already try to prepare ourselves for the disappointment we think is coming our way.

"Everything happens for a reason," we say, as we continue to dwell on the things that could've been.

Whether we think like this because of social media, the people we surround ourselves with, or something else entirely, one thing is clear: society seems to be a constant reminder of what we don't have rather than what we do.

But that's not the only way of looking at things.

Think about it like this: If you can turn a frown upside down, then you can just as easily put a positive spin on the things–23, to be exact–that you've always just perceived as negative:

1. betrayal

n: proof that you had the power to fully trust and open yourself up to someone despite not knowing what the future would hold

2. brokenness

n: a chance to show the world that "broken" is not, and will never be synonymous to "worthless"

To be damaged is something we have to avoid at all costs–or at least that's what we are made to believe. But broken crayons still color the same, broken clocks are still right twice a day, and broken hearts can learn to love again.

So learn to love every little piece of you, because there is beauty in brokenness.

Like Leonard Cohen says, "There is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in."

3. chaos

n: a force that highlights the importance of calmness and peace

4. criticism

n  1: a test of self-confidence, especially in terms of learning to accept the opinions of others  2: a driving force to constantly improve

True: To be critiqued involves being made aware of both your great and not-so-great qualities.

False: The goal of criticism is to bring you down.

Sure, negative opinions aren't exactly things we prefer to hear, but ultimately, they make us better people. Despite how it may feel like when we are confronted with them, we are the ones who ultimately gain something. By being put in a position where we could either conquer or concede, the former becomes the more motivating option.

So really, the only way criticism could be a bad thing is if you didn't know how to take it at all.

5. detachment

n: a milestone on the road to being able to fully distance yourself from the things–or people–that you would be better off living without

To detach means to move on, and when it comes to moving on, a certain poet always seems to come to mind: Lang Leav.

While all her works are exceptional, the writing entitled "Letting Him Go" always seems to tug at my heartstrings. Why? Because it depicts the strength it takes to be able to permanently walk away from what, or who, is preventing you from growing.

Letting Him Go by Lang Leav

"There is a particular kind of suffering to be experienced when you love something greater than yourself.

A tender sacrifice. Like the pained silence felt in the lost song of a mermaid; or the bent and broken feet of a dancing ballerina. It is in every considered step I am taking in the opposite direction of you."

6. disagreement

n: a sign that you were able to stand up for what you believe in

7. emptiness

n: freed up space for more joy, passion, and love to fill your life

8. failure

 1: how to know which ways don’t work  2: an opportunity to figure out what does work  3: that which makes success so much sweeter

As perhaps one of the most overused quotes about failure, Thomas Edison says: "I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work."

9. fear

n: an invitation for courage

In this article, Dr. Frances Emelia Sam justifies why fear is actually a good thing. From the 3 reasons she stated, the main idea was that courage and fear go hand in hand.

"I used to think that people were courageous when they chose to do things I would be afraid to do. I was wrong. They could only be courageous in doing things they were afraid to do. Bravery doesn’t exist in the absence of trepidation.

I mistakenly assigned the characteristic of courage to others wishing I had the same. What I once failed to see was that I possessed the one requirement of courage—a fear to be faced head on.

I came to understand that fear doesn’t negate courage–it beckons it."

So sure, maybe not all of the risks you take will pay off in the end, but you have more to lose when you decide not to try at all.

10. flaws

n: characteristics that show you the importance of being human and accepting who you are

11. guilt

n: 1: a sign of your conscience in action  2: a feeling that can lead to positive behavior change

12. grief

n  1: a wake-up call that reminds you how precious life is  2: life’s way of nudging you to make the most of every moment you have left to pursue your passions and spend time with the ones you love

Out of all the words on this list, grief is probably one of the hardest to look at from a more optimistic perspective. The permanence of losing a loved one comes with a certain sorrow that no uplifting quote can take away.

However, it does make us more grateful for the things and people we still have in our lives right now.

You know that quote about having $86,400 in your bank account everyday? Well, it's cliché for a reason.

So for all the times you will ever hesitate to show someone how much they mean to you, don't–life is way too short to spend not doing the things you love with the people you care about the most.

13. indecisiveness

 1: being open-minded enough to be able to find the good in more than one situation  2: curiosity and self-reflection at work

"What do you feel like eating?" "Anything."

"Where do you want to go today?" "Anywhere."

Sound familiar? If it does, you can probably admit that you aren't exactly the best at making snappy decisions. But just like all the other words on this list, there are certain benefits that come with indecisiveness–courtesy of Puckermob.


"Although it is important to adopt a firm stance on many issues, we must admit that doing so often involves closing your mind to opposing viewpoints. You must block out any information that conflicts with your belief.

If, however, you don’t find it easy to declare your belief, you allow yourself the freedom to remain curious, to constantly explore new ways of thinking about a given topic. Some may say this will result in an impressionable mindset–'If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything'.

But that’s by no means the case across the board. The ability to consider another perspective doesn’t exclude the ability to reject it as well."


"If making a decision or choosing a stance doesn’t come easy to you, on the occasions when you do find the ability to do so, it will be clear to you that this particular belief is important to you. So many of us go through life allowing our opinions to conform to our social environment.

We associate ourselves with a political party and never deviate from their general policies. Then, we practice a religion and don’t allow ourselves to stray from its teachings.

We follow the expected life path that matches our social class.

Being indecisive not only means allowing yourself the opportunity to step back from that type of “inside-the-box living". But to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the values and perspectives you can commit to are true reflections of yourself."


"The benefits of being indecisive don’t merely apply to major issues and beliefs. They also enhance our day-to-day experience. If you’re with a group of friends trying to decide what to do on a Saturday night, being indecisive often means that you’re simply content to do whatever everyone else wants to do.

While someone else may struggle to enjoy the evening if you end up making plans that don’t matchup with what they would have chosen to do, the indecisive member of the group will probably be pleased no matter what."

14. misunderstanding

n: an opportunity to improve communication skills

Life waits for no one, so you have to figure out what’s worth spending time on before it’s too late.

A higher-paying job or an intriguing business venture may be taking up a big part of your schedule right now, but at what cost? More opportunities to further your career will always come knocking. With milestones like weddings, birthdays, and graduations, you might not always be as lucky.

Gaining success is never worth the expense of missing out on life.

15. pain

n: a manifestation of caring about something so much that you are willing to suffer for it

If you've read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, you'll know that this is Mark Manson's area of expertise. Granted, his mindset is unconventional, but that doesn't make his thoughts any less meaningful.

"Everybody enjoys what feels good. Everyone wants to live a carefree, happy, and easy life, to fall in love and have amazing sex and relationships, to look perfect and make money. And be popular and well-respected and admired and a total baller to the point that people part like the Red Sea when they walk into the room.

Everybody wants that. It’s easy to want that.

A more interesting question, a question that most people never consider, is, “What pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for?”

Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.

For example, most people want to get the corner office and make a boatload of money. But not many people want to suffer through sixty-hour workweeks, long commutes, obnoxious paperwork. And arbitrary corporate hierarchies to escape the confines of an infinite cubicle hell."

“Most people want to have great sex and an awesome relationship. But not everyone is willing to go through the tough conversations, the awkward silences, the hurt feelings. And the emotional psychodrama to get there.

And so they settle.

They settle and wonder, “What if?” for years and years, until the question morphs from “What if?” into “What else?” And when the lawyers go home and the alimony check is in the mail, they say, “What for?” If not for their lowered standards and expectations twenty years prior, then what for?

Because happiness requires struggle.

It grows from problems. Joy doesn’t just sprout out of the ground like daisies and rainbows. Real, serious, lifelong fulfillment and meaning have to be earned through the choosing and managing of our struggles."

16. panic

n: that which helps you keep your priorities in check

Especially when it comes to getting things done, there is one word we commonly associate with panic: procrastination. And who better to learn about the panic monster from than a master procrastinator himself, Tim Urban:

"It's not pretty, but in the end, it works" is a procrastinator's system in a nutshell–but that doesn't have to be such a bad thing.

Too often we treat panic like it's the enemy, when in reality it's why we still get things done despite leaving things to the–very, very–last minute.

17. rejection

n  1: a chance to reevaluate and get back on track  2: evidence of your courage to put yourself out there

18. scars

n  1: signs that you are going through a healing process  2: remembrances of your strength

We seem to have this notion that our scars should be hidden–concealed and free from the judging eyes of the world.

But battle scars are not something to be ashamed of.

On the contrary, we should show them with pride because they are visible proof that we conquered a difficult situation; they are some of the best reminders that you conquered the struggle you thought you wouldn't get through.

They're signs that you're well on your way to recovery, and that there are better and brighter things ahead.

19. uncertainty

n: a state that highlights the excitement of taking risks

20. unfamiliarity

n: a driving force to step out of your comfort zone

21. weaknesses

n: vulnerabilities that help you form your most meaningful connections with others

During an out-of-town team building weekend I attended, we were shown a TED talk given by Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston. Before playing the video, the activity head asked for our cooperation because it was 20 minutes long, and I remember thinking, "Damn, I hate this already."

22. weirdness

n: a reminder of the uniqueness you should embrace you are unique

23. worry

n: that which helps you figure out the things that are actually important to you

Elite Daily's take on this topic is one that I can gladly stand by; personally, some of the best takeaways from the article about the benefits of worrying were:

  • You’re attentive to detail: "Worriers are meticulous; they're never comfortable leaving any uncrossed t's or un-dotted i's. They aren't rushing through anything and always make double-checking anything they do a top priority."
  • It puts other things into perspective. "You can tell a lot about what's important in your life by looking at what you're fixating on. Can't stop freaking out over something? Chances are it's because it's the most important aspect of your life currently."

You know the saying about being warriors, not worriers? Well, I'd like to change that up a bit.

We are worriers–but that doesn't make us any less of a warrior.

  • You always get. Sh*t. Done: "When you're constantly worrying, you will never leave a task unfinished. In fact, you'll go above and beyond to ensure every piece of work is your best work."
  • It helps to plan for the future: "Something didn't work out for you before? It's OK because you know better than to take that route again. Anyone who's reflected enough on a past problem knows the exact way to construct his or her future.Whoever said worrying was problematic certainly has never thought about it in this light."

And with all the new definitions that have come from looking at things from a more optimistic perspective, we can change our usual mindsets as well:

"Think positive," we say, as we realize that we have so much to be grateful for.

"Hold on," we say, as we remember that we've conquered 100% of our worst days.

"Everything happens for a reason," we say, as we find comfort in believing that we are exactly where we are meant to be.