Positive thinking is a key to self help. I think I am amongst the most positive people I know. My cup is rarely half empty. I know a large number of people who believe their cup is half empty and I also know a few who would suspect that the half they have has probably been poisoned while they weren’t looking.
Attitudes to positive thinking
You will find this kind of positive/negative categorisation of people’s attitudes manifests itself in various guises in self help, self development and self improvement literature. I read recently that people can be classified as observers or visionaries. Observers are those who get pulled in the direction of the herd – influenced by what other people think, what they see on TV and what they read in the newspapers. This is great in good times, but not so hot in the current climate. Meanwhile visionaries prosper whatever the conditions. I wonder which category you are in? I have no doubt that whatever you expect of life you will almost certainly get.
Positive thinking in literature
When I was younger I thought I had a positive outlook, but reading Norman Vincent Peale’s book (The Power of Positive Thinking) taught me what it really means to be a positive thinker. I have put what I learned from that book to use every day since and it has always worked for me.
A large number of self help, self development and self improvement books promote positive visualisation as a technique for creating improvement and, with the advent of NLP, this has been coupled with the idea of re-enforcing such visualisations with pictures, sounds and even smells. All that works for me – but you may find the idea faintly loony.
My point is that what you believe does determine what you get. If you regard positive thinking or visualisation as stupid, they will remain forever beyond your grasp. They are after all stupid. If however, you are more open minded and could entertain a thought something like ‘it seems to work for other people, maybe I should give it a go’, it might also work for you.
Positive thinking and affirmations
I can give you a personal illustration. A number of self help books recommend affirmations. This might include standing in front of the mirror and repeating what you would like to be (rather than what you are). Some books suggest you tell yourself how beautiful you are. I’ve tried this. I wasn’t beautiful before I started and I was not any more beautiful afterwards. I tell this story against myself. The truth is I don’t believe affirmations work – I have tried affirmations and they didn’t work for me. I found the whole thing stupid. And as long as that is my belief, affirmations won’t work (for me).
I have probably read more than 100 self help, self improvement, self development books over the last 25 years. I always get something out of every single one and I get something significant out of a small number.
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