Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Positive Thinking In Plain English For Beginners

We've all heard about positive thinking and being positive, but I wonder how many people have absolutely no idea what this means or how to put it into practice. In plain English and just a few simple paragraphs, here's enough to get you started!

For everyone, be they rich folk or poor, there is a clear gap between how we want things to be and how they are. However, in the midst of "how it is" are things that are good. To take the most extreme example I can think of, Victor Frankl, a renowned psychologist, spent several years in Nazi concentration camps, but throughout that horrific experience was able to find things of joy, beauty and amusement.

To focus your attention on the "gap", i.e. the difference between how you want it and how it is, this is called "Negative Thinking". Focus on things that are good within your actual situation is called "Positive Thinking". Both these types of thought focus on truth. It is true that to be held in a concentration camp is horrific. It is equally true that in daily camp life it was possible to see beauty in nature and the countryside beyond the camp, and acts of heroism, humour, and kindness within the camp.

Negative Thinking usually comes "easier". Most people will by default gravitate their focus on the "gap". However, mental focus is like breathing - it will do it's "own thing" without any effort, but can be completely controlled consciously. But why should you and why does it matter?

Whether your circumstances are horrific or actually not that bad, the type of thinking you're doing has profound consequences for your health, happiness, success and survival. This is due to the way that the brain and its' software the mind are "wired".

When you think negatively, you are focused on something that is bad and beyond your control. Your mind is built to help you survive and get out of situations or improve them. Focused on the bad, your mind goes into THREAT mode. It causes the release of "fight or flight" hormones into the blood. This diverts the body's resources into the muscles, heart and senses. It does this at the expense of digestion, the immune system, the reproductive system, the bodily regeneration system and logical thinking, none of which you need when facing an immediate threat.

However, you are focused on a gap, something that ISN'T THERE, that you can't change, and to which there is no solution. All this energy in the muscles and senses is completely useless. It was evolved for encountering natural threats on the African Savanna, not for losing your job or meeting business targets. With none of your resultant actions solving the problem, you stay permanently in THREAT mode. This means that you become very unhappy and very ill very soon, as the body, thrown permanently out of balance, cannot maintain itself properly.

When you think positively, you are focused on good things you can appreciate. The brain thus goes into OPPORTUNITY mode, and a much more balanced mix of hormones is released to exploit the opportunity. Focused on opportunity, you are happy, calmer, think clearer and rest easier, allowing repair, regeneration and robust defence against germs. Furthermore you can DO something with your opportunity, keeping you absorbed and positive, able to solve problems and cope in adversity.

So you can see that whatever the circumstance is, your personal success and happiness and survival depends on which aspect of it you are focused on!

If up to now you have been a negative thinker by default, do not despair! To think positive is only a question of training. Begin by keeping a "Good Things Journal" - every day before bedtime write down 1-10 things that were nice that you either observed or happened to you. Feel thanks and gratitude for these things. Now you are a Good Things Hunter! In time, as you see the benefits of doing this, grow in confidence and become increasingly encouraged, you will become a newly converted Positive Thinker.


GeorginaShenton said...

I love this post!
I am a huge believer of positive thinking too! and things have changed when I started visualizing the kind of life and career I want.

I can truly say my life right now is a product of The Law of Attraction.


MGM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MGM said...

Love your esseys on positive thinking and ego! Happy to have found them!! Thanks a loooot!

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