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The Zone
The Zone : The Negative Zone

The Zone

The Negative Zone

By Tom Evans

« The Decision Zone

You may have heard the adage that it takes something like 43 muscles to frown but only 17 muscles to smile, so we should all smile because it's easier.

Well this is a bit of an urban myth as not everyone uses the same muscles in exactly the same way, or to the same extent, when smiling or frowning. Some people can express their displeasure by subtly raising an eyebrow; others can ‘smile’ with the minutest twinkle in their eye. Like all muscle groups too, they tend to set in the mode they are most comfortable and accustomed to. This might make it harder for naturally happy people to exhibit displeasure and for those with a cross to bear to manage a grin.

Some people seem to be predisposed to negativity. To my knowledge, no specific study has been carried out to see if optimists consume less energy than pessimists. It is intuitive though that the those with an inclement outlook in life seem to be the people who have a harder time of it. They tend to be more prone to illness and it’s probable that their longevity is affected as a result. As with the chicken and the egg, sometimes it’s not clear what came first and if the external misfortune preceded the negative, internal demeanour.

Like all traits, there is undoubtedly both a genetic component as well as an element which comes from nurture during upbringing and education. As for all the zones, they are infectious and this can apply both positively and negatively. We cannot help but infect those around us with our moods and it’s hard not to get sucked into another’s way of being.

This zone is a breeding ground for the seeds of the other Danger Zones to germinate. If you spend too much time swamped in negativity, you can easily end up wallowing in more than one of these unhealthier zones.

It might be logical to assume people in the Negative Zone exude some sort of negative energy, which obviously can be picked up by others. The term ’negative energy’ is a bit of a misnomer.

If you think about it, all energy is something which is not zero. So it's more accurate, and helpful, to think of it as ’positive energy’ pointing in the wrong direction. Relabelling it as such gives us a clue how to get out of this zone by reframing the actions, and redirecting the attention, of someone stuck in it.

So if someone thinks the world is against them, we could ask, “What have they got against the world?” If adversity visits their door, they could explore what they can learn about dealing with such misfortune. The best antidote for any negative is simply a positive. •

Next: The Anger Zone »

Tom Evans Renaissance Man and Imagineer Tom Evans is the author of four books and counting about creativity. More »

Updated 1/18/15