The Power of Positive Thinking

Sep 19, 2012 by

People think I’m crazy.

Or at least that’s how they look at me after I answer some of the questions I hear on a regular basis:

Why are you in such a great mood today Amir?

-I woke up.

How are you always in such good spirits, do you ever have a ‘bad day’?

-Why on earth would I want to do that?

They often cock their head slightly to one side and look at me like they think I had WAY too much lead based paint with my lunch in the third grade. I suppose it seems foreign to many people that a person can be truly happy nearly all the time. They either think its some sort of facade or I’m just some type of crazy hipster dufus who’s too dumb to know when he should be upset or frustrated by life’s little twists and turns.

The reality of it is I could probably be a little more specific or detailed in my answers, then maybe they would have a better understanding and stop cocking their head at me like a bird that wants a cracker – but its ok because I freely admit that I’m a sarcastic bastard and besides, I like to make people think.

Truth be told I’m an optimistic and generally even keeled person by nature, but even with that being the case I wasn’t always quite so successful at mastering my emotions and thoughts as I’ve come to be today; when I was a much younger man I used to get frustrated, upset or have negative thoughts more often.

Its a natural thing right? We’re human and these are emotions that we’ll all experience from time to time no matter what, the difference for a positive thinker is how deeply the frustrations of life affect us, if at all, and how long they are allowed to impact our existence.

William James once said
“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.”

I found this to be a powerful and important concept, because when you think about it, the only thing that we can ever realistically hope to control in the world is ourselves – everything external to us is impossible to truly master. We can only exert limited amounts of control over other people or the events of the world around us, but we own and are solely responsible for our thoughts, emotions and behavior.

The day that I realized this and began to accept full responsibility for my reactions to the world around me is the day that I began to fully thrive in my life.

I have developed a philosophy that there are no inherently ‘bad’ events in life, there are simply events. We assign the label of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ based on our current perspective or interests at the time, but this is an entirely subjective and personal designation.

For practically any event that one person views as negative there is someone for whom it can be perceived as a positive based on their different perspective.

Once you’ve realized this, the next step is to begin actively assigning a good or positive label to the events in your life as opposed to a negative one.

I sometimes consider ants as an example. They can work for who knows how long to build their little ant hill home, but if someone comes through and tramples the entire thing back down to nothing, they appear to simply reroute their activities and go about slowly building a new home; they seem to know that the universe doesn’t always cooperate or operate in their best interests, but no matter, seemingly undaunted they accept their new situation and push on with the challenges of life.

Ok, so before you write me – I realize the ant analogy has its flaws. Ants cant speak, so for all I know if I had an ant language translator and put a magnifying glass to use, I might see hundreds of little cursing ants scurrying about, some shaking their little ant fists in the air “you bastards!!” they might be saying to whomever trampled their village – sue me, but I prefer to think of the ants as being optimistic and completely imperturbable.

But I digress – Positivism. Glass half full. Whatever you want to call it, you and only you have the ability to choose the perspective you assign to the events of your life.

It isn’t always easy, and for some people it will be more difficult than for others, but for all of us it is absolutely possible to change and control our outlook on life, and its important to appreciate the power that this choice has to affect all aspects of your life, including significantly improving your health and longevity.

Tips for Improving Positive Thinking

  • Keep negative influences and people out of your life as much as possible, instead cultivate friendships and associations with positive, supportive people.
  • Look for ways to learn and grow from each disappointment or setback
  • Become aware of your negative thoughts and replace them with positive, realistic statements and images.
  • Read more. There are many excellent books which reinforce the importance of optimism. One of the first I read, which is still highly recommended, was Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – And its ALL Small Stuff  by Richard Carlson

Finally, its important to remember that developing a more positive outlook is not a one-time mind exercise, instead it is all about developing a set of habits that must be constantly practiced. It takes conscious effort to make these types of changes but I promise you’ll find it well worth the time in the long run. Yes you heard me right, that’s a guarantee — your life will improve from following these tactics or your money back!

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2 Comments

  1. I say it is a dishonor to oneself…and understand what your purpose in life… Strive to fine the diamond in you…

  2. Bilala

    Sharing the note on my teabag string: “Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.” Sounds like you.

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