What do you think of when you hear the phrase “the power of positive thinking”?
Do you value this phrase as an empowering concept?
Do you see it as a marketing ploy for an unsustainable form of health and wellness?
Do you roll your eyes in total doubt without thinking of how you could feel more positively in your own life?
Whatever your reaction, the phrase exists for a reason — hear me out.
I have chatted with many friends, coworkers, and family members about the concept of positive thinking over the past few years after undergoing my own personal development journey through self-sought therapy, introspection, and self-realization. There is power in forgiveness and facing the past. It helps us work through, instead of circling around our whole lives unable to solve the answers we run around to avoid.
I still have a lot to learn about myself and the world — don’t get me wrong, I believe my perception of the world has put me on the path to learn and absorb faster, to be kinder, accepting, forgiving, and forward. The sooner we learn to be patient, kind, and accepting of ourselves, the more fulfilling and rich our lives will be. If we see ourselves as someone who is incapable, we mold ourselves this way. You are what you believe yourself to be. If we see ourselves as someone who is empowered, confident, and has overcome, we become this person.
If you constantly tell yourself your life is miserable and make little to no effort to remedy it, or if the way you’re trying to remedy just doesn’t seem to be working for you, start anew. A fresh self lies in your ability to manage your emotions, think critically, see multiple perspectives, and problem solve. Seek out resources and support to get you to the positive state you deserve to live in, because you do deserve to live in this state no matter what your darkest days encourage you to believe.
Asking for help is another difficult thing for most people to do, but once you learn you’re not so alone and are supported, you become more empowered to do the same for yourself. There is a limit to the support others can provide; self-care is only something you can do for yourself. The more you reject it and see yourself as a miserable, flawed, or incapable human being, the more you live in that state of mind. It starts with a simple belief that you are worthy of feeling positively in your life and working towards living positively. You must earn it. It may take a while to learn in life, but so long as you are patient and kind to your journey, you’re in a good place to start the process.
While positivity is second nature and simple to some, to another surprisingly large segment of our species, it requires a lot of work and energy.
How we see the world stems from many things: our upbringings, our families, our culture, our gender identities, our sexualities, our associates, our work, etc.
The experiences and people we have in our lives, whether difficult or grand, have the power to determine our perspective and shape us, if we let them. We should only let ourselves.
If we let ourselves, we become what we want to feel. There’s a well-known quote I often emphasize whenever the subject of “positive thinking” or “positive perception” comes up in conversation: “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react.”
Think about the last difficult, sad, or anger-filled thing that happened to you. How did you react?
For instance, imagine you were working incredibly hard on a work project for a client as an independent business consultant, did amazing work, and reached the end of the line, only to realize the client was about to drop you.
You have the option to react two ways. Yes, it is frustrating. Yes, you may feel you did the work for nothing. But you could also feel out your emotions, then come to the conclusion that you learned something from this experience, whether with your partnerships, time investments, etc.
You have a right to feel angry, and you should feel it out as to not bottle up your feelings. However, you shouldn’t linger on it for weeks. What’s done is done. Your time on this project is over. It’s time to move forward and feel empowered that you learned how to manage your stress, clients, and partnerships better as a result. The next approach will be a better approach, and, if it’s not, you know how to handle and take comfort in the fact that you do know how to handle a worse case scenario.
This is a vague example, and only focuses on one aspect of the human experience — work. It’s one of the most common reasons people feel stress in their lives. Common stressors, as you (likely) know, include emotional problems related to family, friendships, and our romantic partners, as well as big life changes (divorce, death, a major move).
We come to these points in our lives that stand to break us. But if we let them shape us, we are empowered to live in the now, to accept ourselves with confidence, manage our emotions with grace and understanding, and move forward with a new perception.
When you learn to see the bright side, you live more brightly, and as cheesy as my closing thoughts may impress upon you, we all need more sunshine day-to-day. Don’t be afraid to glow with emotional intelligence. Face the experiences or feelings that hold you back. You may hit rock bottom before you get up and start living more positively, but trust me when I say that the experience back uphill will shape you impeccably.
Emotional intelligence should not be devalued, especially by yourself. Our personal development journeys that we have in our lives follows suit.
When you learn to treat yourself as you would your favorite person or most loved ones, you will have earned the aforementioned form of sustainable sunshine.