Embracing the benefits of positive thinking

The most positive people are the ones that can also see life for what it truly is; a beautiful wonderful gift, not without adversity, writes Richard Hogan

WHAT makes someone think positively? This is a question I often ask myself when I’m in the therapeutic setting with a client that is having difficulty seeing any good in their life. Clients often seek out therapy after life has dealt them a series of devastating blows, and it can be quiet difficult to hear some people describe their life story without it impacting on your own sense of positivity and hope too, because random horrible things happen to people without any good cause.

And it can leave us shaken to the core at the fragility of it all. But it’s developing the ability to not become consumed with the negatives that is crucial to living a healthy fulfilled life. Obviously very few of us are happy all of the time. Few of us are that happy wanderer, whistling and kicking through autumn leaves without a care in the world, because as I said, our lives are often punctuated with great sadness and melancholia. But how do we get back up again after having the wind knocked out of us? Positive thinking is something that actually takes work. And I always think that the most positive people are the ones that can also see life for what it truly is; a beautiful wonderful gift, not without adversity.

The blindly optimistic person doesn’t see this and when they encounter a problem, which they inevitably will, it floors them. They didn’t see it coming, how could they? For they are blindly optimistic!

You need a bit of pessimism to help you navigate the world. Otherwise, we wouldn’t see the danger that is all around us, and we wouldn’t be able to analyse a scene in any great depth if we always held a type of Disney viewpoint on the world. And we all know that’s not how the world is. But when things are going well, we must learn how to harness that and enjoy those moments, because like the bad moments the good ones are fleeting too. So developing the ability to see them when they are present is important for your wellbeing and mental health.

‘It all works out’ as the song goes, or ‘things fall apart’ as the poem tells us — which do you hold as true? Somewhere in the middle would be a healthy mindset. You certainly do not want to be the eternal pessimist, that person can never see any good in anything and they are always waiting for something devastating to happen so it can reaffirm their worldview that life is ‘a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’.

And they are not very pleasant to be around, in fact, an inherently negative person is exhausting to be with. And it must be exhausting to be in their headspace. Never open to the possibility that goodness and joy are all around us. But you have to be open to see it; your eyes cannot see what the mind does not believe.

Opening yourself up to positive thoughts actually increases the chances of positive desirable outcomes occurring in your life and therefore change how you view the world.

Why is it that a positive person attracts people? Why do we want to be in their company? What is it they have that is infectious? And why is it that nearly all successful people have a positive view of the world and have a fundamental belief in themselves? And how can we all develop a positive mindset?

Clients often ask; how can I make myself more positive? And I generally give them the following tips:

1: Think about how you think. Listen to your thoughts, ask yourself an important question, is the way I’m thinking beneficial or likely to bring about a positive outcome or not.

I asked a client once: ‘Where did you pick up the message that negative thoughts are helpful to your success?’ Their response was quite enlightening: ‘I’ve always believed that if you don’t expect much you won’t be disappointed when you are let down.’ This is the forlorn logic of a person used to being let down by the world. And if we didn’t see that we wouldn’t really know why we think the way we do.

2: Remember thoughts come from you; you are in control of them. It can often feel like we are a prisoner to the millions of random thoughts flowing through our minds. But we decide which ones are important and meaningful for us.

Become better at editing your thoughts; concentrate on the ones that will improve your life, not those ones that hold you back.

3: How do you want to think? What is getting in the way of those thoughts finding prominence in your life? It is often as simple as saying; ‘I’m going to be positive today. I’m going to be open to the possibility of something great happening for me.’

Often we get caught in a negative pattern of thoughts. It can be difficult to see a way out of thinking pessimistically.

Negative thoughts can almost become like a friend to us, we can be reluctant to let them go because they are so familiar.

However, when we look at how we think and why we think a certain way we can start to improve our thought process so that it allows us the ability to see the wonder of our lives and how to embrace the good times.

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