If you consume media in any form or fashion, you’ll know that positive thinking is an affirmation that just about everyone agrees on. Anyone who’s been successful doing anything seems to live by it and the mere thought of not affirming some form of beauty, worth or goodness in another person or situation sounds pretty negative. It should be mentioned that as a result of all the good press positivity has gotten calling a person negative is basically the best form of an insult these days. So you go about your days trying not to be a Negative Nelly, looking for the bright side or silver lining in everyone and every event that occurs, regardless whether or not your opinion is even called for.
Well the problem with positive thinking is the same problem with negative thinking. They are two sides of the same coin. They actually aren’t different at all. The judgement you cast about the situation being good or bad inhibits your ability to see the situation for what it is and respond effectively.
The best example of this is when we “fall in love”. A person’s tendencies and compulsions (perhaps made more palatable by our initial physical attraction to them) either seem insignificant or altogether non-existent in the beginning, that is until they don’t anymore. In month 2 when everything is roses and rainbows your partner eating an entire meal with their mouth open seems like a small price to pay for being such a wonderful companion that fulfills all your other needs. In year two it’s more like “why can’t they keep their mouth closed when they chew? Even small children learn to do it.“ Observed only two years apart these seemingly starkly different perspectives both prohibit you from being able to address the problem appropriately with your partner. In the first scenario you undoubtedly will say nothing for fear of losing their good favor and being a nag so early on in the relationship. In the second scenario, after two years, you will likely say too much and with a bit of self-righteous condemnation thrown in for good measure.
So how do you just see things for what they are and stop putting yourself through this emotional roller-coaster? Or at least buy tickets for and get on the roller-coaster willingly without being taken for a ride? You’ve probably heard this before, in order to get the right results, you have to do the right things. A person’s ability to settle on the correct course of action is wholly determined by the state of mind or biases that are present when they make decisions. This means neither wearing rose colored glasses or the pitch black matrix variety enables you to see a situation realistically so that you can respond sensibly. You must take the glasses off altogether and see it for what it is.
A 5’5 aspiring basketball player doesn’t train and practice whilst imagining that he or she’s 6’5. He works on the facets of the game that are within his control. He works on his strengths and does as much as possible to prevent his height from being exploited. This is not to say that he doesn’t visualize himself in the winner’s circle having succeeded, this visualization is a necessary component of achieving anything. But he is also astutely tuned in to the present realities that prevent him from being there and is constantly looking for ways to address them.
When you begin to rely on yourself for happiness you don’t need to see life in a certain “light” in order to happily attend to it because your happiness is not determined by your situation or external successes. At this point you’ll see your actions are no longer limited by your positive or negative opinions and will therefore be much more effective.
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