Recently, someone wrote in and asked me the following questions regarding positive thinking. I thought they were great questions, so I thought I’d share my answers.
What does positive thinking mean to you?
To me, positive thinking is realistic thinking. In other words, in every situation, even the worst of situations, there is always at least a lesson to learn. Every experience is just what it is, an experience. It’s how we view those experiences that determines how we experience them. I’ve found that being positive means focusing on the things that you can control, and then constantly learning from every situation.
How can your average Joe embrace positive thinking? Are there any techniques/strategies?
I think the best way for average Joes to embrace positive thinking is for them to embrace realistic thinking. In other words, the more people can eliminate hyperbole and instead focus on using realistic adjectives to describe their world, the more they can begin to have a balanced experience of life. From a balanced place, I’ve found that people are more likely to be able to view their world as positive.
How can we stay positive throughout the winter months when it’s dark and cold outside?
Probably the best way to stay positive throughout the winter months when it’s dark and cold outside is to align your expectations with the reality that it will be dark and cold outside. In other words, once you can accept that variable for what it is and set it aside, you can devote your entire energy to concentrating on what you can do, versus focusing on what you cannot do (or cannot change).
Do you think the internet and social media prevents people from thinking positively?
The more time people spend on social media, they more they get a distorted view of the world around them. For example, people tend to post favorable pictures of themselves from their best moments, or “highlights” of their lives; so when viewers see this, they can mistakenly believe that the whole story of others is this “perfect world,” when in fact that “happy” moment caught on camera might very well have lasted seconds. The more people see so many others having “fun,” the more likely they are to believe that they are somehow “missing out,” and hence, they tend to begin to think negatively. That’s the main reason why I teach people to turn off social media; or at the very minimum, understand that what they’re seeing is not necessarily reality.
Can positive thinking really help people to live longer, happier lives?
Positive thinking can absolutely help people live longer, happier, and healthier lives. Overwhelming research has demonstrated the impact that positive thinking can have on things like the average cold. More than that, however, think about the ways in which negativity puts unnecessary stress on cardiovascular systems. The bottom line is that you don’t have to adopt a “don’t worry, be happy” attitude to hold a positive view of the world, and the more positive view you hold, the better your overall health.