How Positive Thinking Can Change Your Life
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” ― Abraham Lincoln
It’s not always easy to be positive. Things go wrong every single day, and every time they threaten to lower your morale, whether it’s something as simple or insignificant as the bake shop selling the last of your favorite muffins to the person in front of you in line or something as serious and momentous as the sudden loss of a loved one.
Somehow, the things that go wrong are always at the front of our mind. People forget about finding a five dollar bill on the street moments after it happens, but the feeling you experience when a car splashes you with a muddy puddle while you are already running late for work will stay with you all day. With this tendency to focus on the negative, it is very hard to think positively.
Yet positive thinking is an essential component to finding happiness and achieving success. Just think about it: how much happier, do you think, is the person who sees the rosebush and notices the beautiful flowers versus the one who only notices the thorns? Being able to see the good in things, to smile and laugh when everything is going wrong, to tell yourself you can achieve anything despite everything that stands in your way—this is a way of living that will make life far more enjoyable and lead you to accomplish the most amazing things against all odds. And not only is learning to live like this possible, it’s also fairly easy.
1. Smile and laugh
When something goes wrong, what is your first reaction? Do you cry? Scream? Fight back? Do you bury your feelings in a cup of coffee, or perhaps something a bit stronger? Do you take a cigarette break to calm down?
If any of those answers describes yourself, you are doing something wrong. Not a single one of those options is healthy, and doing any of them will just make you even more miserable in the long run. Rather, the answer should be: smile and laugh.
How, do you ask? What I do is I try to think of the situation as if I were someone else. What does that mean? Well, consider a comedy in which every possible thing goes wrong for the protagonist. The general response is not to cry, scream, drink, or smoke. It’s to laugh. Think of yourself as a protagonist. Look at your surroundings as if you were in a comedy. Find the humor in the situation, and let yourself laugh at it. Or, if laughing is too difficult, just smile. Allow yourself that moment of silly giggling or chuckling at your current situation. And then remember that all those comedies tend to end with every conflict being resolved. Let yourself believe that that will be the case for yourself as well, and you know what? It probably will be.
2. See the good in things
Don’t look at the cup as half empty; look at it as half full.
Everyone knows the famous saying about thinking optimistically, but how many take it to heart. The truth is, seeing the good in things doesn’t just take your mind off the negative, but it also leads you to do something even more miraculous, which is seeing the good in people too.
I have some annoying friends. They’re loud, obnoxious, disrespectful, and just plain irritating. But after years of pushing myself to think about the good in things, I started stopping myself from joining the furious discussions between my other friends about this person and that person, only contributing the occasional praise about this person’s loyalty to the people she cares about, or this person’s dedication to his job. And now when I see those friends that some might find disagreeable, all I can see are their positive qualities. It’s a tremendous way of living, for those who are willing to push themselves to think like this.
3. Positive thinking can help you accomplish ANYTHING
I am a huge Harry Potter fan. The summer that the last film was being released, I was working in NYC, and I discovered that the red carpet premiere would be taking place at Lincoln Center. So I told my boss weeks in advance that I would be taking off, and I made plans to go and try to see if I could glimpse J.K. Rowling and the cast of the film series. But I didn’t just want to stand across the street and take pictures; I wanted to get inside.
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