Beyond Positive Thinking
Some people would say that “life sucks.”
I adhere to the dictum that “Life is what we make it.” I believe then that when people say that “life sucks” it’s because that’s the way they made it to be. The kind of life we live is defined by the mind-set we have. It is one’s way of thinking that would make life suck. It is the negative attitude towards life that make people fail in their undertakings – it is what makes them unhappy and dissatisfied. It’s in the midst of all their failures, sadness and dissatisfaction that they say “life sucks.”
People are seemingly not sold on the idea that their way of thinking affects the way they live life and would determine whether or not they succeed. It is hard for them to accept that it is their innate responsibility to examine their way of thinking and ensure that it doesn’t stand in their way to happiness and success. This is something I learned so late in life. How I wish I had learned so when I was younger.
I have heard a lot of things about positive thinking before but it was only around 2009 that I started digging deeper into the idea and it took a few more years before I really became serious about it.
I realized that there is more to positive thinking than veering away from negative thoughts and shedding off negative attitudes.
It all began when I watched a film entitled “The Secret.” I saw the DVD of the movie by accident. The store owner mixed it with regular movies. When I bought it, I had no idea what it was. There was no synopsis, not even a brief note explaining anything about it. That was it… everything was what the title suggests – SECRET.
I thought it was either a mystery-thriller or a sci-fi movie. When I played, it I found out that it was some kind of a “self-help” film. It was technically a documentary. I have to admit that at first I considered the ideas presented as preposterous. Things I was seeing and hearing from the beginning of the film were like lifted straight from the pages of a science fiction book… but at the same they also tickled my curiosity.
So, I continued watching and tried to be open-minded and thought of the information in the film as tips for personality development. I have always considered anything that advocates positive change as worth my time and worth trying. I watched it a few more times after that and even shared the ideas I learned to my students whenever I would see a connection to the contents of the topic we’re discussing.
Then I decided to do an internet search for one of the speakers in the documentary who impressed me the most – Bob Proctor. That internet search led me to his (Bob Proctor’s) motivational videos on YouTube and to links to information and videos of other motivational speakers such as Wayne Dyer, Les Brown, Jim Rohn, Joe Dispenza, Brendon Burchard, Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, Simon Sinek, Tom Bilyeu, John Maxwell and Mel Robbins.
I watched the videos of the said speakers and searched for electronic copies of the books they have written. At first, it was like once a week that I would play their videos on YoutTube until such time that I started doing it everyday – in the morning and at night. It became part of my daily routine.
I found out later that Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale, and Earl Shoaff came ahead of the motivational speakers previously mentioned. My constant browsing of the internet intended to quench what has seemingly become an insatiable thirst for ideas for personality development led me to the works of one of the “pioneering figures of modern inspirational thoughts” – James Allen. His most famous book – “As A Man Thinketh” – set straight everything I learned about positive thinking.
Dr. Joe Dispenza’s book “Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind” provided enough science into the positive thinking paradigm that wiped out whatever doubts I had about it. I love the way Dr. Wayne Dyer incorporated Asian philosophies into that paradigm and the infusion of practical wisdom and humor to it by Jim Rohn and Les Brown.
Then John C. Maxwell made me think the way I think. His book “Thinking For A Change” reminded me of the value of effective and creative thinking. His suggestions on how to be more focused and creative in the way people should think are very practical but tremendously effective.
I don’t take everything I read and hear from motivational speakers hook, line, and sinker. I always have my filters and my critical lens ready when I listen to talks and read books. I analyzed their ideas carefully and (without judging and doubting) tried to see which ones work for me and which writers and speakers make sense.
The one thing those motivational speakers succeeded in doing was to change my mind-set. They taught me how to look at things using a positive perspective. They were able to confirm what I have believed all along that whatever we become is the sum total of all the decisions we make… that a person is in-charge of his own destiny. It is a personal belief I started forming after reading W.E. Henley’s “Invictus.”
The process of my personal transformation was rather slow and I got to observe things in my life changing for the better only in 2013.
When positive thinking succeeded in changing my perspectives about life, things in my life improved, particularly in the areas of relationships, health, work, and finances.
One day I just woke up and realized that things are the way that they are. People are who they are. They talk, behave and act the way they want, whether I like it or not. I can not change them. I can not change the system of the government, the policies in my workplace, the attitude of my co-workers, the character of my friends and loved ones. The only things I could change are those that I could control directly – my words, actions, and my thoughts. It is my perspective that must change. I need to have paradigm shift as Bob Proctor would put it.
I did exactly that. I changed my perspective and it is continuously evolving. I’m not saying that everything in my life now is perfect. One thing I could say though is I am happy with who I am, what I have, and where I am. Perhaps the life I live now is what Brendon Burchard would describe at the end of his videos as – “a charged life.”
I fully embraced self-sufficiency and personal accountability.
People wrongly think that positive thinking is just that – thinking. It only starts there – having a positive mindset. What would make positive thinking weave its magic is the corresponding positive actions you undertake.
Positive thinking without positive action won’t work. Brian Tracy added one more to the equation – “One must have an organized plan of action.” He added that action without planning is the cause of every failure, underachievement, frustration, time wastage, anxiety, and stress.
So, it’s not just a person needing to think positively and that’s it. Planning and action are needed.
All motivation gurus advocate the setting of goals. They strongly suggest that people should have their daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals… on top of their long-term goals. They also identified two qualities that a person must have in order for positive thinking to work – self-discipline and self-sufficiency.
For me, self-discipline is the most difficult obstacle to hurdle. Old habits die hard. It’s true, but somehow I am succeeding in slaying the bad ones – albeit slowly.
I know it’s not easy to change one’s perspectives on anything especially if such perspectives are already deeply anchored in the person. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Right? Allow me to be literal on that idiomatic expression and let me add this – “… but people are not dogs.”