Julie Bindel

Three cheers for being miserable

Three cheers for being miserable
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I prefer the music and lyrics of Pharrell Williams’s Happy to Morrisey’s Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now (because I loathe the smug insincerity of Morrisey more than anything else) but - in case you haven't noticed - I'm still a miserabilist.

Being a glass-half-full-and-cracked-and-laced-with-poison type of gal, I can't abide the influx of positivists that appear to have popped up in recent years. A positive attitude is supposed to cure cancer, bring about world peace and end starvation. Being negative, as I am (by way of avoiding chronic, daily disappointment), is treated with distain, disgust and derision. I'm blamed anytime I get ill by fake gurus for bringing it about myself as a result of not actively healing through positive thinking. I once nearly punched an acquaintance who had the arrogant tenacity to practice reiki (described as a 'method of natural energy healing based on the use of Universal Life Force').

The practitioner holds a hand over whichever bit of the patient that needs healing, and keeps it there for what feels an eternity. It does no good whatsoever, and the very idea that these folk think they can cure everything, from terminal illness to blindness through to a burn or infection, by holding a magic hand over the area is staggering. Jesus Christ had more humility.

When my reiki session brought about nothing except anger and boredom I was told it could not possibly work because I was not ‘open to it’ and that it was my attitude that blocked its effectiveness. Right. So those antibiotics I took when I had a chest infection recently only worked because I chanted, ‘I believe in you, you will heal me', as I washed them down?

When I am asked how I am by relative strangers or colleagues I always reply, ‘fine, thank you’, but with friends and intimates it is always the truth - therefore, ‘knackered’, ‘fed up’, ‘full of cold’, ‘desperate for a drink’ or ‘ready to kill’. I lead a stressful life. Why would I feel anything else? I bet you a fake smile that you absolutely HATE it when a friend says that they are ‘marvellous’ unless they've recently been through a profound trauma. We are more comfortable with negativity, and balk at those upbeat happy folk who jump around like deranged puppy dogs and insist that all will be well if only you let the sunshine in.

The bullies who badger you into thinking positively are the most judgemental I have ever met. Had they been around during the time of the Holocaust I wonder if they would have spouted karmic shite at those being rounded up onto the trains and suggested that the fascists had popped up to teach the miserable sods a lesson as a result of their negative thinking.

Positive thinking is different from being cheerful. Its proponents peddle the myth that, by focusing on the good, the bad ceases to exist. It is your world-view and attitude that makes you ill or allows bad things to happen to you goes the mad philosophy, handily removing any responsibility from the baddies and placing it firmly on the victim. I would rather be negative and miserable, than positive and smiley any day. It can only get better from there.

Written byJulie Bindel

Journalist, author, broadcaster, feminist campaigner against sexual violence.

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