On Becoming A Positive Thinker

By david / March 11, 2012

I have a confession to make:  I am not the greatest proponent of positive thinking.    In fact, I used to detest the whole idea.

Why do I have to ‘think’ positive?

In some ways, I still feel that way.   I never really want to close my eyes to the negative.    That seems like an Ostrich – you know how they bury their heads in the sand and leave the rest of their bodies exposed to what they are trying to escape?

Maybe, their predators thought they were a bush or tree when they did that?  I guess it is possible that strategy somehow served them over a period of thousands of years.

For people, I think it is not the same.  We simply cannot hide from what is around us.  We have to be forward and outward looking.

However, there is a problem with too much of that, you can easily become confused or befuddled between what is real and what is perceived.

Too much thinking can drive you crazy.   We must know when to draw the line and to say: No more!

We Have Been Trained

All of us went through a school system.  It was designed to teach us to be ‘critical thinkers’.

Critical thinking IS an important skill to have.  We need it.  We need to know how to look outwards and avoid potential problems.

But, we were never taught that we could run into danger if this way of thinking is over utilized.

No one told me when to STOP being critical.  And I bet they didn’t tell you where the boundary line between critical and negative thinking rested either!

There IS A Line – What Do You Do When There Isn’t Enough Information?

I am a very critical, even logical thinker.  So much so that I can get stuck in that mindset.  This is the danger for me personally.

As people, as human beings, we have limitations on our awareness.   We simply do not have enough ‘data’ to figure out everything.

We were taught to just keep thinking and thinking until we come to an answer.

To recognize that you simply don’t have enough information to form a conclusion is a skill that most of us were not taught, in my opinion.

The temptation is to keep digging for more information.  With the Internet that is an easier thing to do than ever before.

But, when do you stop trying to find an answer?   A difficult question to ask, isn’t it?

At some point, you have to say: That’s enough!

Belief or Faith Has A Place

When you don’t have the answer, you simply have to accept it.   There is no other option.  You could go insane trying to find an answer to a question that you simply cannot answer.

In the movie, A Beautiful Mind, John Nash looks in vain for pieces of an answer from various magazines and newspapers.   He takes it way too far and begins to find correlations that do not actually exist!

At some point, you have to say, “I cannot answer this question (dilemma, situation, etc), I simply don’t have enough information”.

Then there is nothing left to do, but have some kind of faith.  Perhaps it call comes back to that point where a parent tells you: “Everything is going to be alright.”

At some point we have to just simply believe that.

Positive Thinking Is About Stopping The Negative

We have to be positive to stop the negative.

Being positive just for the sake of it, is what I used to rebel against.

It isn’t until life’s problems become overwhelming and difficult that you begin to realize that the idea of positive thinking is to stop the negative thoughts.

In fact, there is nothing new in this.  The satyr, Candide, by Voltaire sums this up almost perfectly.

Our hero in that story has a penchant for positive thinking when everything is going wrong.  Things get worse and worse but he keeps thinking positive.

It is not until the end that Voltaire gets to the point.  Then you realize that that Positive Thinking is not about creating a false picture of reality.

Instead, it is about removing the unduly negative from our minds.

Voltaire seems to be saying, “Your mind is a garden and you have to constantly pull out the weeds in order to have a beautiful harvest and place to enjoy.”

How is your garden doing today? 

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