#14 in “15 Powerful Things Happy People Do Differently,” addresses common differences between positive and negative folks – obvious differences, and also not so obvious differences.
“Positive thinking” has become all the rage in these slightly more enlightened times, with the unfortunate side effect of concepts like the (well-named if poorly explained) “law of attraction” sometimes conveniently replacing the actual law of reality.
The law of reality is that it is not what we say that matters, but what is behind what we say. We can repeat all day,”Abundant profits come to me,” but if we feel negative and depressed as we say it, THAT is what we will reap.
We see this so transparently with dogs. You can say to a dog “I love you sooooo much!” but if you sound grumpy the dog will slink away and hide under the couch. Conversely, you can say, “Come here you stupid, slobbering mutt” but if you say it with a sweet tone, the dog will wag its tail happily and come right over.
In the same way, in recovery circles such as the eating disorders field where I happen to do much of my work, recovering people learn the wisdom of paying attention to actions over words. Listening to the advice of someone who says they are recovered without first observing whether their actions bear this out as truth can lead us into some perilous territory – and frankly, we’ve already been there and we don’t want to go back.
If you struggle to match up your feelings and your words at first, then just repeating positive affirmations can build up some “positivity power” through application of the “fake it til you make it” principle. I have used this one repeatedly myself, and sometimes it has actually worked.
We must start where we are and build on that – it just makes sense.
But eventually, I learned that with just a bit of extra effort and some creative visualization I too could make the leap from just mindlessly repeating the words to actually feeling the impact of “what if” they were actually true.
An easy and totally painless way I found to do this that I still use is to ask myself a simple question like, “What would you do if you won the lottery?” It takes no time at all for my eager, thought-loving mind to completely lose itself in “spending” the money mentally – and before I know it, I am feeling wealthy and abundant too!
“What if I met my soulmate this afternoon during my walk?”
“What if I pick the right stock and my portfolio triples?”
“What if I pitched that story to my favorite magazine and they buy it?”
“What if I just bought my ticket?”
There are all sorts of questions that can take us from a negative to a positive place – using the endless supply of thought-power that is often misspent on careless, unmonitored thinking.
Here is the thing about walking the bridge from a more negative to a more positive place: I for one don’t believe that any person on this planet WANTS to be filled with negativity. I do think there are a lot of people on this planet who don’t know how the mind works or how to manage theirs, and I think there are some people who have allowed themselves to become conditioned to believe that negativity works for them better than positivity ever could.
I also believe that, for some folks, negativity has become such a habit that they no longer recall how good positivity feels, or how good they feel in the presence of their own positive thoughts and the positive presence of others.
But the way I see it, it is my job is to tend to my own place on that spectrum – and if I do a really good job at that, then I can offer by example (and maybe also in words) the hope and promise that there is enough positivity for all who want it and seek it.
Today’s Takeaway: Are there areas in your life where you feel the pressure of a negative outlook or mindset more keenly than in others? It may be helpful here to find a mental question that can generate your mind’s enthusiasm for creative visualization and in this way help yourself cross the bridge towards positivity. You can also begin to tune in to not just the words you speak but the feelings behind those words and see if this makes a difference.
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Last reviewed: 16 Aug 2012