Does Positive Thinking Really Help You?

Positive thinking seems to be getting a bad rap lately. To be honest, this irritates me. I’m a fan of positive thinking…yet I feel irritated? That’s not very positive.

I recently watched a Youtube video that described positive thinking as an evil new age plot. (not kidding) The ranting creator of the video accuses positive thinkers of participating in a  plot to keep corrupt systems in power, which they unwittingly do by ignoring negative events.

grimace-388987_1280Another video recently crossed my Facebook feed exclaiming, “Discover The Truth About PositiveThinking… the truth about positive thinking exposed.” SO irritating. The two-minute video, taking research out of context, said, “people who suppress negative emotions, pretending to be cheerful, still displayed high limbic activity, (in the emotional center of the brain) and at times faking happiness increased stress.” It discredited affirmations, again quoting a “shocking study” saying, “affirmations backfire in most cases…unless you already believe the statement.” For the record, that’s stating the obvious.

Suppressing negative emotions, pretending to be cheerful, and faking happiness IS NOT POSITIVE THINKING. At ALL.

Also, Positive thinking is not the same thing as an affirmation. An affirmation is “a statement or proposition that is declared to be true.”(Dictionary.com) An affirmation is NOT by default a positive thought. For example, repeating, “the world sucks,” again and again is an affirmation. By comparison, positive thinking would be finding something GOOD in the world and keeping our mind focused on that.

Years ago my mind was so stuck in negativity that I lived in a constant state of fear.

After reading The Secret, I started fooling around with abundance thoughts, practicing the law of attraction as described in the book. At first, I was excited that it did seem to work, but something else even more unexpected happened. I began feeling better.

I discovered that choosing positive thoughts short-circuited habitual negative thinking. I became a more positive person, quite a feat for someonebiggirlpanties who’d made complaining an Olympic sport. My “happiness set-point went up. Not long after that, Martha Beck Life coaching came into my life…where I learned about positive thinking on steroids.

After years of fine tuning, I’m still no poster child for positive thinking. I get overwhelmed, stressed and irritated on the regular. Every time those feelings come up, I consciously practice the tools I’ve learned, including positive thinking, so negativity doesn’t take over my mind, and life.

Positive thinking isn’t about suppressing our vast range of feelings or ignoring emotional wounds.

It isn’t about ignoring human tragedy or allowing injustice to continue just because we don’t want negative thoughts in our minds.

Positive thinking isn’t about ignoring the negative.

Healing “negative” feelings requires the absolute opposite of ignoring them. Awareness is the first step to healing, and from that state of awareness we can begin to choose thoughts that support us. Instead of “The world is frightening” we can choose,”Today I’m grateful for the many expressions of love in the world.”

You can experience the benefits of this right now. Say the above statements, one at a time, and notice how you feel in your body after saying each one.

Positive thinking changes our brain, benefits our body and increases overall well-being.

Version 2Positive thinking creates mindfulness, which better equips us to navigate this crazy ride called life.

It’s about shifting our focus to find what’s good in ourselves, in others, in the world, and making that our reality.

Positive thinking is about choice, and choice leads to empowerment.

True positive thinking dissolves fear. It’s oppositional. Without fear, your mind is your own.

Positive thinking is a superpower that can not only change your life, it can transform the world…for the better.

It’s advanced learning on this planet school called Earth, and we’re all welcome to join. 

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