Don’t be fooled. Positive thinking is a way to set the default to optimism rather than to pessimism. Some people are squeamish about showing optimism, it has been given the connotation of naïveté but optimism derives from the Latin word optimus, meaning “best,” – and that is all we are doing when we exercise optimism, we are getting the best from the situation. The glass half full not half empty is teeing you up for gratitude of what you have and not fear of what you need/lack.
Positive thinking can be personal affirmations, can be NLP, can be all the tips of motivational speakers but it can be simply optimism and that is just choosing (or developing the tendency) to see, acknowledge, believe, expect, intend or hope that things will turn out well, that all will come right. It is confidence in life. Positive thinking is not a high wire act without a safety net. Positive thinking is knowing that the safety net is there but also that you have done this a thousand times before, and all it is, is just cautiously walking a straight line. Mindfulness is often something as simple as walking a straight line consciously.
Positive thinking is not fantasising – it is not about mentally role-playing idealised futures. Even though I advocate visualisation and mental dry runs on scenarios to attain a positive approach, positive thinking also requires positive action – simply daydreaming the future is not being in the now and prolonged positive fantasising can manifest as misapplication of energy and non-actualisation of goals – the more you live in the happy bubble the less effort you will invest in realising the goal in reality.
Positive thinking is muscle memory assurance and confidence to succeed and deflect setbacks – it is not absenting oneself from proactive behaviour. Visualise making it across but once you step on that high wire let your senses guide you, come into your body and its precise movements. Don’t worry if you think you are a natural born pessimist – that’s just your programming thus far – you can reset yourself.
How you make positivity your default setting is to begin by reconsidering or reframing how you define experiences and events. Start dropping the tendency to dwell on or replay the bad experiences or unpleasant events – instead see that situation as a learning experience.
You will learn something – ok blind dates are not ideal for my sister’s wedding, garlic pesto on toast is not the breakfast of champions on the day of a job interview. If all you learn is not to make the same mistakes then that’s your future self-rebooted. But you can learn more – wow my blind date really hit the bottle before hitting the groom – minus 5 negativity points – but I was excellent in calming the hotel manager and my hysterical sister – I have skills in bad situations – Positivity bonus 10 points, now you are 5 ahead and not five down. Fingers crossed it will never be that dramatic but you see what I mean.
If I have a project that is taking ages to get green lighted then I choose to see it as the time is not right and at least I have all the work done for when the perfect moment arises. I see setbacks as opportunities to perfect, reflect, refine and move closer to success. Personally I don’t dwell on ‘it will never happen’ because then it never will and if it’s not meant to happen then you need to be on what will happen (what you can make happen) and not stuck in the past on the last… drop it, get to the next one. It’s not a fail it’s an antibody, you are just building your immunity to negativity.
So If I may quote a fellow Irishman – Samuel Beckett – “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better“. Failing better eventually leads to success. Seeing the good learning opportunity in the misfortune is what brings good fortune. Adopting this mind-set resets the pessimist to an optimist – to the getter of better. To being a go-getter.