“It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.” William James
The Naysayer: “The philosophy of “positive thinking” means being untruthful; it means being dishonest. It means seeing a certain thing and yet denying what you have seen; it means deceiving yourself and others.”
Me: “No, it doesn’t. It means to be solution-oriented and not live in the problem. To be willing to change so that you can grow emotionally and spiritually.”
The Naysayer: “The negative is as much part of life as the positive. They balance each other. The positive and the negative make one whole.”
Me: “Of course – being positive thinking doesn’t mean the negative doesn’t exist…it means seeing the reality of the situation and approaching it with a solution oriented attitude instead of wallowing in the negative.”
The Naysayer: “So why do people promote positive thinking WITHOUT action/change?”
Me: “Because they don’t know what they’re talking about – they’re ignorant. Much like those who talk about mindulfness meditation as not allowed in religion – bumpkus. Ignorance abounds – but those who are ignorant are quite capable of learning if approached in a manner of offering a solution vs. showcasing why they’re wrong.”
The above exchange was in a social media group and began when The Naysayer posted an article a slef-described Zen master wrote that stated “positive thinking appeals to mediocre minds”.
There was no need for me to take this as an insult, but it did offer an opportunity for discussion and possibly to move someone from ignorance to understanding.
I’ll be the first to admit that many people misunderstand what A Positive Mental Attitude and Positive Thinking is really about. It’s because many aren’t aware of the power their thoughts have – that thoughts become things when those thoughts change your emotions and your emotions translate into behavior…action.
To state it simply:
A positive mental attitude is focused on solutions. It’s about asking solution-oriented questions:
- “how do I do this?”
- “who do I talk to?”
- “where will I find this information?”
- “what if I tried it this way?”
Excuses, complaints, cynicism, have no place in the mind of someone who wants to succeed.
When making plans, many will think only of the worst that can happen – thinking that if they determine they can handle the worst, then they can decide to move forward with the plans. I used to do this as a way to overcome anxiety and fear. And, it does work. Now, though, I include looking at the best that can happen, too.
What if I fail?
What if I succeed?
The day I started asking, and answering, both questions is the day I felt confident in my ability to succeed.
When I felt confident that success – achieving my goal – was going to happen, combined with an attitude of “living in the solution”, I was able to approach challenges differently.
And I’ve had challenges. Personal and professional challenges ranging from being an extreme introvert with social anxiety to being bankrupt spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially.
A few of my challenges, that I can share publicly, include:
I was a really smart kid, talented in writing and music. I co-authored and self-published my first book at age 11. I had poetry and short stories published in magazines and college chap books. I was playing piano like a pro at age 12. For various reasons – I had negative thoughts and feelings that went unaddressed because I didn’t share them with anyone. They spiraled into a deep, dark pit of depression and anxiety and I lived in a fear-controlled world – afraid of people, places, and things.
With the compassionate guidance of an elderly woman who was willing to share with me how to change my thoughts – so I could change my feelings – so I could live a life that I wanted…over a few years I focused on what she shared with me and I became more balanced through the use of prayer, meditation, daily conscious effort to change my thinking and change my response to the world. To be succinct:
she taught me the value of a positive attitude that was based on living in the solution, not the problem.
From there, my natural tendency toward Stoic thinking and living became enhanced and strengthened.
Early in my marriage, the IRS decided to come after my husband for having sent him a refund 8 years previously. It was determined that he needed to send that refund back. Add interest and penalties and we were looking at a $2,000 refund that had ballooned into $135,000 owed to the IRS.
My husband and I were flooded out of our first home and lived in a 12’x 12′ room for 7 months, while I worked full time, part time and went to school and he focused on dealing with the contractor who incorrectly installed sanitary sewer lines in our neighborhood, causing the flooding of our home.
My health had deteriorated to such a point that I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, couldn’t leave the house without knowing where each restroom was on the route to my destination, and taking up to 16 pills a day while also receiving medication via IV once a month. I decided that this was a problem that I was going to find a solution for. That is when change in my mindset and attitude began and that is when answers were found. Over the next few years, through meditation, changing my diet, and changing my work environment I was able to heal my body and become medication free. I’ve not experienced symptoms since around 2010 and I’ve not taken a pill since 2011 (or thereabouts).
Financial stress in 2013 almost put my business – out of business. My family was completely reliant on my business for income from 2012 – 2014 and I was mismanaging the funds. By year end I realized what I was doing, saw the problem, asked what the solution was and began implementing it. By end of 2014 the business was profitable and going in a new direction.
Today: This year, I will celebrate 28 years married to the same man. I own a business and do things I love to do – and for me that means I am always learning something new. I have no fear of meeting new people, exploring new places, trying new things. I am an introvert and prefer my own company or doing things with just a few people. I’ve spoken from the stage to 800 people and I have conducted in person workshops for as few as 5 people. I do video, live streaming, and more.
The resources I recommend for anyone wanting to change their thinking and change how they respond to the world begins with a simple book that outlines the principles of success. These principles are simple, but not easy to put to use. It takes work. It takes consistent, persistent effort. And, it’s worth it.
I wouldn’t be the woman I am today, respected by my peers, loved by my husband and family and friends, viewed as a leader by some, and a student of many. I recommend the book Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude by W. Clement Stone and Napoleon Hill. It is meant to be studied and the principles applied on a daily basis. The book The Obstacle is The Way by Ryan Holiday is an excellent resource for understanding the Greek philosophy of stoicism. And, finally, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg shows the science behind our habits and that is it possible to change.