Meg Lee Chin

When I moved to London in the eighties, I felt immediately at home. The humorous cynicism reminded me of the small East Coast, American town where I grew up.

I had been living in California which is perhaps the New Age capital of the world and centre of positive thinking. So the more down to earth attitude of the English was refreshing.

On the surface maintaining a positive attitude seems to be a no-brainer with numerous benefits.

But the downside is it can create a lack of empathy for those that are genuinely suffering. Those who are sick are made to feel guilty as if somehow it is their fault for daring to think the wrong thoughts. The pressure to stay endlessly positive becomes a strain. Relationships start to look superficial.

The "tyranny of positive thinking" really hit home for me last year when I was severely ill. Some turned their backs on me for being too "negative". Apparently, I had brought it upon myself by committing the indefensible crime of not controlling my thoughts.

But we live in a universe of relativity where a thing cannot exist except in relation to another thing. "Hot" cannot exist unless there is something called "cold". You can't be happy unless you have experienced sadness.

This is the cyclical nature of life. It's a dance filled with happiness, sadness, joy, fear, anger, love with many, many other shades, colours, hues and variations. It is impossible to eradicate negativity from one's life and experience 100% positivity. Indeed there is a word for those that believe they have, it's called "denial".

I guess the neo-liberal dream of unlimited abundance and endless positivity has followed me here from California.

For this, I apologise England. Next time, I will try and shut the gate tightly behind me....