‘A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees opportunity in every
difficulty.’ –Winston Churchill
‘A man is but the product of his thoughts; what he thinks, he becomes.’ –Mahathma Gandhi
‘When you put faith, hope and love together, you can raise positive kids in a negative world.’—Zig Zigar
‘If you think about disaster, you will get it. Brood about death and you hasten your demise. Think positively and masterfully, with confidence and faith, and life becomes more secure, more fraught with action, richer in achievement and experience.’—Swami Vivekananda
Read the following situations and see how you may react to them, that is, what and how you think:
Imagine you’re waiting for a friend. You wait, you wait, and you wait; yet,
there’s no sign of him (or her?!).
reaction one reaction two
As time passes, you become anxious, As time passes, you start wondering
then you get tensed up, then you work about the delay, then you start looking
yourself up—stress yourself, curse for reasons—probably you had not made
your friend, yourself, and everything yourself clear about the meeting, probably
under the sun! You try his mobile and he’s caught in a traffic jam, or his mobile is
fail. So you grimly decide to give low on battery, probably he couldn’t get
a piece of your mind when you meet out of office. You’re not unduly worried.
Imagine you asked your friend for a loan. He said he’d try to help. After a day or
two, he says ‘Sorry.’
reaction one reaction two
You blame your friend for not helping, You accept your friend’s inability to help.
You accuse him of not being frank, of You understand the reason(s) he offers.
robbing your chance of asking another. So you continue to be friends with him.
Your relationship with him may become
strained. For no fault of your friend!
Imagine you’ve been called for a job interview. You’re fresh out of college and you
know you’re not good at using English.
reaction one reaction two
Your imagination runs riot now—you’re You know your limitations. You begin to
almost sure they won’t consider you, the plan how best you can present yourself—to
interviewer(s) may even look down upon go early, to wear a smile as you enter,
you, the interview may just be an eyewash. to request, if necessary, for repetition of a
And now, you may even be thinking if question, to say what you know without
you should attend the interview at all. worrying about your faulty constructions,
Then you decide to go. You begin to feel to say ‘I don’t know’ when you don’t, to
they’re asking the most difficult questions, thank with a smile before leaving.
they’re exposing your ignorance, your
inadequacy. You can’t find your voice, or
you stutter, you mumble and you feel
miserable. And you blame them for this.
In these three situations, how do you find yourself reacting? Be true to yourself. If your reaction is similar to ‘one’, your thinking is negative, and if it is similar to ‘two’, it is positive. Thinking negatively doesn’t help you— it weakens your confidence in yourself, it adds problems, it makes the situations worse than they are, it results in failure. If you continue to think negatively, you are likely to add stress to your body and mind, you’re more likely to fail than succeed. You are likely to blame your failures on others rather on yourself. And you may end up a failure. On the other hand, thinking positively helps you—it strengthens your confidence in yourself, it lessens problems, it improves the situations, it can result in success. If you continue to think positively, you are likely to minimize stress to your body and mind, you’re more likely to succeed than fail. And you’re likely to blame your failures on yourself rather than others. And you may end up a success.
Now, a few thoughts about how we think, how we act or react.
‘I think, therefore I am.’
There can’t be two opinions on this: the mind is the driver, the body—the five senses—, the vehicle. The mind gives directions, issues orders, and the body obeys. The body may hear, the mind may not listen, the body may see, the mind may not notice or watch, the body may sensate, the mind may not register. Sounds reach our ears, but we don’t ‘know’ what is said. Pages are open, but we don’t ‘know’ what we are reading. A fly may perch on our body but we don’t ‘feel’ it. At sometime or the other, all of us have had such experiences. Hearing, talking, reading, writing, seeing, acting, feeling, emoting, as responding or initiating acts or activities, depend entirely on what and how the mind frames and intends. What does the mind frame and intend? Thoughts (ideas, opinions, conclusions, decisions, sensations, feelings/ emotions)—initiating or responding.
In other words, it’s what and how the mind thinks that forms the source for action, for inaction or non-action, for friendship or enmity, for joy or sorrow, for pain or pleasure, for peace or war, for heaven or hell on this earth. If this duality of experience emanates from thinking, it then stands to reason that we must do something about this thinking of ours if we want success, if we want friendship, if we want peace, if we want joy, if we want pleasure. Surely, we want all these, but only for us or more for us than for others. Surely, we want all these in our private lives or in public life—as individuals or as members of a family, a group, a society, a community, a nation. Surely, at any cost, to some who then wage war on individuals, tradition or society. At some cost, to several who try and fail and hence live cursing. At no cost, to several others who never even try and thus live in agony and make hell for others, intentionally or otherwise. Our lives and life around us abound with live everyday samples of ‘at any cost’, ‘at some cost’, ‘at no cost’.
In fact, this warring, this cursing, this living in agony and this making hell is considered ‘the man thing’! But we could avoid warring, cursing, living in agony and making hell if only we set our minds to it. This implies changing our way of thinking, changing how we perceive (see) others and ourselves, changing our attitude or outlook.
That is, convert negative thinking into positive thinking. It’s easier said than done, yes, but try we must, for the other alternative is wishing or thrusting hell on others and us.
What happens when we don’t change or when we change?
Negative thinking Positive thinking
·makes you think of your weaknesses ·makes you think of your strengths
·reduces your self-confidence ·improves your self-confidence
·erodes your self-esteem ·strengthens your self-esteem
·worsens your communication ·improves your communication
·makes you see only ‘bad’ in others ·makes you appreciate the ‘good’ in
·blame others for your failures ·pinpoints you as source for your failure
·makes you miserable ·makes you happy
·forces you to make others miserable ·helps you to make others happy
·increases ‘stress’ on body and mind ·minimizes ‘stress’ on body and mind
(deteriorates physical and mental health=) (keeps body and mind healthy=)
(reduces immunity of the body and mind) (increases immunity of body and mind)
·accept ‘defeat’ as a fact of life ·look at failures as stepping stones
·prevents your from playing your role ·encourages you to play your role
as son/daughter, as a friend, as wife/ as son/daughter, as a friend, as wife/
husband, as a parent, as a neighbour, husband, as a parent, as a neighbour,
as a member of society, as a citizen. as a member of society, as a citizen.
What is positive thinking?
As a positive person, you
· believe in yourself as an achiever,
· develop only the ‘good’ in yourself and others,
· see a new situation as ‘an opportunity to learn’,
· look at a complicated situation as a source of inspiration,
· look for new sources when known ones fail you,
· take on an impossible-looking situation as a challenge,
· welcome breaks from tradition,
· discover new channels when the usual ones aren’t adequate,
· see the positive side of dear and near, of strangers, of colleagues, of subordinates,
· encourage the young and support the elderly,
· are not deterred by failure but remain motivated to continue to strive.
How can you make your thinking ‘positive’?
1. Thinking, generally speaking, is contagious. We affect others and others affect us—
consciously or unconsciously, with or without our knowledge. This can happen also
instinctively and subconsciously. So, avoid ‘negative’ people and choose to make
friends with those who are ‘positive’ in thinking and action.
2. Think ‘I can’ even when the situation or the person is very difficult.
3. Make ‘failures’ part of learning and growing. Don’t lose heart, don’t give up, don’t
be bitter, for success does not come easily. Analyze failures and learn from them—
identify what went wrong or where you went wrong, make corrections or ask your
‘positive’ friends, change your perception (how you see yourself, people and
situations), improve your attitude so you don’t repeat your mistakes. To say the least,
you’ve done your best trying and by continuing to try. This is beginning of success.
4. Praise the efforts of others, be gentle with their errors—say they’ve just slipped, not
fallen, say it’s only a bruise, not a wound, get them to think and try again. If you
exhibit positive thinking, it will rub off on others over a period of time. Your efforts to
make others ‘positive’ will ensure your remaining positive because you cannot
ask them to do what you yourself don’t practise!