There Are No “Negatives” in the Box Called Life by Doc Orman, M.D. (Book Excerpt)

Chapter 5


I now want to give you some pointers about how you can tell when your negative thinking is true and appropriate…and when it is not.


You know how when you buy something from a store, and it comes in a big box, there’s usually a list of all the contents inside of the box printed on the outside or on a separate sheet of paper located within the box. This list contains all the components that should be included in the box, and by inference, if something is not on the list, it’s not in the box.

Well, in many ways this same analogy can be applied to life. There are certain things that come in the ‘box’ called ‘life’ and other things that don’t. For example, in ‘the box called life’, you will find lots of living things and lots of non-living things.
In the category of living things, you will find plants, animals, bacteria, viruses, and human beings. You will find human bodies in the box. And you will find human language in the box. You will also find many events (or potential events) in the box.

But what you won’t find in ‘the box called life’ is any negatives. Negatives are not part of life. Negatives only arise from human bodies and from human language. That’s the only place they exist. They do not occur in life, per se.


If you understand this key principle that negatives don’t come in the box called life, you should always be suspicious anytime you are thinking negatively. This is not to say that negative thinking doesn’t have any value, or that it is always faulty or wrong. It’s just to point out that the odds are very much in favor that most of our negative thoughts are going to be incomplete, incorrect, or otherwise unrealistic.

Thus, you should always treat your automatic, negative thinking as potentially flawed.

This should be your impetus for always trying to challenge and disprove any negative thoughts you might have. Sometimes, you won’t be able to do this (meaning your negative thoughts may be just fine), but much of the time, you will be able to see through any weaknesses in your initial, automatic negative ideas.


As we’ve just seen, people who’ve gone through life and have bodies conditioned to think very positively tend to ignore risks, dangers, and other legitimate negative aspects of life. Thus, their automatic body tendencies can be just as flawed and just as inaccurate as our automatic negative thinking can be.

So it’s not just negative thinking, or even positive thinking that is commonly flawed. All types of automatic, conditioned thinking are likely to be wrong much of the time.

This goes for automatic thought processes such as:

 Our automatic assumptions.

 Our expectations about ourselves, about others, about life, etc.

 Our automatic ways of perceiving events in life.

 Our thoughts that automatically generate our emotions.

 Our theories that underlie our behaviors.

 Our judgments about other people.

 Our thoughts about our own value, worth, and lovability.

 Our thoughts about how to have successful relationships.

And much, much more.


Chapter 6


So, if there is no negativity in the box called life, where does negativity truly come from?

Well, if it doesn’t come from life…it has to come from us! And in fact, it always does.

In a deeply philosophical (and truthful) way, nothing negative ever truly happens in life. There are no negative events in life, no negative situations, no negative outcomes, no negative people, no negative emotions, etc.

The truth is that things just keep on happening in life, and then we human beings either consciously or unconsciously add our interpretations to whatever happens. This is true for even the most severely ‘negative’ events we can imagine, such as natural disasters, genocide, senseless individual murders of innocent people, etc.

The truth of the matter is more like this:

 Events happen in life and then we judge them to be either good or bad;

 Situations occur in each of our lives, and we assess them to be either positive or negative;

 Certain outcomes stem either directly or indirectly from our actions, and we then judge these outcomes to be favorable or unfavorable;

 Someone senselessly kills another person and we judge this to be bad or wrong.


This is why it’s so very important to know and continually remind yourself that nothing ‘negative’ ever happens in life.

Negativity is always a product of human interpretation. And sometimes, our automatic interpretations – particularly our automatic negative ones – can be way off the mark.

If you incorrectly assume that something you experience ‘really is negative’, then you will never consider exploring whether your own automatic assessments may not be correct.

This is also part of the root cause of our ‘believing problem’, which I mentioned in Point #1 of this plan. We tend to over-value and believe in our negative thoughts much more than we should. This is because we mistakenly believe they ‘really are true’ – as in they are true independent of us and of our own or others’ possibly faulty interpretations.

Once you recognize, however, that all negativity is a product of human interpretation, and none of it exists as a ‘fact of nature’, you are then freed up from your automatic negative thinking to explore other valid views of reality.


MORT ORMAN, M.D. is a physician, author, stress coach, and founder of the Stress Mastery Academy. He has been teaching people to eliminate stress, without managing it, for more than 30 years. He has also conducted seminars and workshops on reducing stress for doctors, nurses, veterinarians, business executives, students, clergy, and even the FBI. Dr. Orman’s award-winning book, The 14 Day Stress Cure, is still one of the most helpful and innovative books on the subject of stress ever written. Dr. Orman and his wife, Christina, a veterinarian, live in Maryland.



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