Is positive thinking as powerful as they are making us believe?
A man visiting the city of Jerusalem notices another man praying in front of the Wailing Wall.
– What are you doing, good man?
– Just praying.
– And what are you praying for?
– I pray for peace in the world, for our leaders to stop telling lies and for men to finally forget our differences.
– And how long have you been praying?
– A lifetime.
– And how do you feel?
– Like I have been talking to a wall.
This extract from Superpowers of Success for Normal People by José Luis Izquierdo (Mago More) could have us believe that positive thinking is, in fact, a waste of time.
After all, what will this good man accomplish by praying and hoping that the leaders of our countries will put aside their differences and create a happier world for all of us?
The history of humanity shows that humans are rarely able to talk and think about the common good.
So, is positive thinking like talking to a wall?
No, of course not.
It’s certainly not as easy as changing the filter on your glasses for a rosy one that transforms the “why me” into a “I’m all yours, world!” automatically.
That’s not a realistic.
But leaving behind the “why me” for a “what can I learn from this”, definitely is.
That is, indeed, the question that holds much of the power of positive thinking.
Free yourself from responsibility and focus on the action
Asking “what lesson can I draw from this?” changes the defeatist approach that tends to be a lot easier and a lot more comfortable for us.
The others are no longer to blame for the car accident that changed our lives.
The others are no longer responsible for having fired us from a job that put the bread on the table for ten years.
And the others, as is Jose Luis’ case, are no longer to blame for the disability of his son and the repercussions that this has had on his life.
This new approach makes you understand that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional (quote from Irene Villa).
From this moment on, you have the ability to turn that crisis into an opportunity.
You, and only you, can explore your strengths and take advantage of the situation, however difficult it may be.
But, you can only do it if you stop licking your wounds and make the decision to come out strengthened against that adversity.
How? you probably ask yourself.
Just thinking positively?
If the concept of positive thinking seems childish or simplistic, try to qualify it with another label.
Call it Focused Thinking.
And you can build Focused Thinking and reinforce it by applying the following suggestions:
1- Don’t obsess about the past nor the future
Building on José Luis’s inspiring case, in Superpowers of Success for Normal People, Mago More talks about all those questions he kept asking himself since finding out his son Marcos’s disability.
Did we do something wrong?
Could we have changed something?
What will become of us, but above all, of Marcos’ future?
His mind would not stop obsessing about the Past and the Future.
Until he realized that there was no use in anticipating problems that would surely never become a reality.
So why worry about whether he will have to move from his present home in five years, and whether he would be able to afford it financially?
Am I going to be worrying for five years? he thought.
No, instead, I’ll focus on all the positive energies to anticipate, plan and save intelligently.
Without obsessing and without stressing.
“Suffering from imaginary problems is real because your body transforms those thoughts into physical symptoms,” says José Luis. “If you want to advance something that is not a problem, visualize yourself achieving your goals.” Obviously, to achieve your goals you will need a little more than visualization: you will need to work on them. But, for starters, it will make you feel a lot better.
2- Don’t lose your sense of humour.
Laugh as much as you can.
Laugh at that roadblock that hit you.
Laugh at yourself.
And above all, surround yourself with positive people who make you laugh.
Negative emotions, as the Austrian endocrine Hans Seyle explains, provoke a whole series of negative processes in the body which will put you in a vicious circle of negativity impossible to get out of.
Don’t give negativity the chance to win.
Keep your sense of humour with you at all times and laugh at problems before they laugh at you.
3- Don’t waste time watching news.
But, Ainhoa, you must be informed!
Well, yes and no!
I won’t deny that it’s important to know what’s happening around us.
But, we are all saturated by the incessant flow of news.
In addition, the media tends to share mostly negative news because they bring them numbers.
Without being aware of it, this type of information immerses you in a negative state of mind and permanent fear.
So, be informed, yes – but be selective about it.
Read the newspaper. Don’t get caught up in a news channel expecting constant information about the evolution of a particular incident.
You have the power to decide how far you want to go.
4- Help others
Paul Zak of Claremont Graduate University explains that the hormone Oxytocin bears a very close relation to the quality of generosity.
If you help others, you secrete oxytocin, and you feel good, Zak says.
Helping others makes you feel better because it opens your eyes.
“Others are a lot worse off than I am” you tell yourself.
But, in addition to relativizing your own situation, helping others helps you to live much happier.
5- Incorporate meditation into your day to day life.
As I’ve explained in previous articles, meditation teaches you to pay attention and be more aware of your environment and your feelings. But, above all, meditation teaches you how to focus on our present, without judging your thoughts: accepting them as what they are – thoughts, not your reality.
I am sure these five suggestions will help you develop positive or focused thinking.
Positive thinking has the power to transform your life.
If you find it difficult to do it alone, get in touch.
My coaching techniques will help you control those chemical processes that right now seem to have a tendency towards negativity.
I hope to talk to you very soon!
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