Let’s talk about a positive attitude, which is priceless, even if it is difficult to maintain sometimes. We cannot argue that our attitude affects our life in a big way, as well as the lives of those around us. To maintain attitude we need motivation. All good so far.
“People often say to me that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing; that’s why we recommend it daily.” Zig Ziglar Tweet this quote
Attitude is a powerful thing. And a positive attitude can be life-changing. To maintain a positive attitude, we need positive thinking, right? But first, a story you must have all read. If you haven’t, it’s a treat in store for you. If you have, well, it is a treat in store for you, too!
A Native American boy was talking with his grandfather. “What do you think about the world situation?” he asked. The grandfather replied, “I feel like wolves are fighting in my heart. One is full of anger and hatred; the other is full of love, forgiveness, and peace.” “Which one will win?” asked the boy. To which the grandfather replied, “The one I feed.” (Origin Unknown)
Simple story, yet it brings home a life-changing lesson. We become what we think about. See how the power of a positive attitude can be harnessed? The equation is simple:
Think positive, get positive results. Think negative, get negative results, right?
You will reap the fruit of the thoughts you sow. Right?
Not really. Not always.
I’ll tell you why. And this is largely the result of a conversation with my son. See, I am in the habit of always telling him to think positive. His reaction varies, depending on the situation. If he’s happy, he makes affirmative noises. If he’s bugged, I can see “ah, big deal” or “as if” written all over his expression. I can just see he wants to say “oh, come on, Mi”. We got into a very lengthy discussion about how some people actually feel more irritated/annoyed and feel worse when we try to make them feel better.
In fact, I had an aunt who, I am fond of saying, has a “superiority-inferiority” complex. She would come across all holier-than-thou and project herself as unhappy – but appear to feel happy about it. In fact, it looked like she was happiest when she was unhappy.
I grew up with my mom who vehemently believed in the power of positive thought. Okay, I do agree it makes me happy. But you know what? Some people, like my aunt, who looked suspicious if we told her things would be okay, actually feel worse when you give them the “positive thinking” theory. My Mom, ever the optimist, would painstakingly explain it to her only to have all her effort would boomerang right back. Talk about wasting energy. But my mom never gave up.
So, the question is:
Can we actually ensure positive thinking works?
Let’s look at some tricky situations:
Someone with low self-esteem actually feels much worse when you encourage them to think they are absolutely fine people – simply because they don’t believe it. They think they’re not good enough – and end up feeling even worse. How can they feel better? There is a study that established that people with low self-esteem, who were asked to perform acts of kindness for a week actually moved from clinical depression to not being depressed.
And soon, they developed a sense of self-worth and were well on their way to being normal people. That makes sense to me. When they did things for others, they were appreciated. This reinforced that they were useful. It increased their self-confidence. And so, telling them they are good enough sounds logical to them.
Continuously focusing on problems
Who doesn’t have problems in life? But have you ever met people who can never seem to shift their focus from their problems? Of course, you have. Not only do they dwell on their problems; they also extrapolate, imagine and analyze dire consequences.
If there is no problem, they create one! Let me give you an example. I know someone who travels a lot. Each time he has a flight to catch, he books a taxi to take him to the airport. He starts worrying as soon as the booking is done.
- Will the driver call?
- Will he report on time?
- Will he get stuck in a traffic jam and miss his flight?
- Will he reach the airport in time?
- Will the flight take off on time?
Okay – granted that all these are possibilities. But let’s give things a chance to work, shall we? These people cannot see the point behind positive thinking. They claim they’re being practical. Here, a trained therapist may be needed to help pinpoint and tackle all that negative thinking. They may need to learn, all over again, how to approach their problems. Stress relieving strategies may also be helpful.
Trying to please everyone
Ah, the bane of most people. Can you make everyone happy? Sometimes maybe. But should you really aim to do that? The answer is No. So, for those who depend on others for their happiness, it is easy to figure out why positive thinking may not help them the way it ought to.
They are so busy trying to get the approval of others or doing things for them that it drains them of their energy and they have none left for themselves. And if they perceive that the ones they’re trying to please are not satisfied, don’t ask! Here again, a therapist may be better than exploring self-help.
“I am not good enough”
Self-explanatory. If we constantly criticize ourselves, how can we ever accept positive thoughts? If we don’t have faith in ourselves, who will? I’ve seen this in both adults and children. I remember – there was this competition in school and Vidur was participating for the first time. I got so mad when, after rigorous preparation, he coolly said he won’t win, because there was another guy who was a clincher for the prize. What crap. I mean, in his mind, he already decided he wasn’t good enough.
There are two things here. The inner critic who focuses on the self and the part that assumes lack of ability. One way to squash the inner critic is by consciously recalling all the nice things in life and remembering the people involved. This basically moves the focus from self, enabling the appreciation of other things and people. And the ability part? Take stock of past achievements and gain self-confidence. And oh, Vidur did win that competition. Goes to show, no?
Not believing in positive thinking
Some people simply feel that positive thinking is crap. They claim that they prefer to be “realistic”. These people need proof and facts. Some people also tend to look at the “flip” side, which, translated, really means the negative side of things. While it is good to look at both sides, always focusing on just the negative side as though it is the only thing that exists is not fair. Real life examples of the benefits of positive thinking may help. Seeing is believing in this case.
So now, let’s look at at least 21 ways to nurture a positive attitude, positive thinking and get our positive energy flowing!
21 ways to nurture a positive attitude
- Quit worrying. It hurts your head and your mood. Use the energy to think positive. Be present.
- View problems are opportunities. My Mom always said that if I could identify the problem I also have the ability to identify the solution.
- When a negative thought pops up, tell it to shut up. Don’t allow it to build up and snowball. Don’t water your weeds.
- Identify thoughts and beliefs that drag you down. Make a conscious effort to get rid of them.
- Try and minimize “regrets”. The past is gone. The future is unknown. And there’s a solid reason why the “present” is called a gift.
- Take responsibility for your actions and their consequences. Don’t pass the buck. It is easy to blame others when you feel unhappy. But it is really in your hands.
- Define what success means to you. Set goals. Figure out how to reach them.
- Work on your self-confidence. Most issues in life stem from a lack of self-esteem
- Hang out with people who are positive – form a support group. Open yourself to positive thoughts. And enjoy the motivation.
- Forget about mistakes you might have made. Instead, think about what you learned. Based on this, make better choices.
- Practice gratitude and appreciation. Focus on what is. Not what isn’t
- Nurture your relationships
- Think about what is important. Sometimes things just won’t go your way and that’s okay.
- Don’t be quick to pass judgments. This includes yourself and others.
- Make a “what makes me happy” list.
- Don’t resist when good things happen.
- Get over the fear of rejection. Practice saying “So what!”
- Do random acts of kindness – and feel the pleasure
- Make a list of your achievements and appreciate yourself.
- Live as though every day is a miracle. It is, you know.
- Go ahead. Shake the world.
I invite you to add to this list.
Do you believe in positive thinking?
Do you have a positive attitude?
Have you had to deal with someone who did not believe in positive thinking or a positive attitude?
How did you handle it?
I am eager to know!