10 Jun Happiness is positive (and negative) thinking
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Our thinking habits have a lot to do with our success or failure in life. They can make it heaven or hell. We should acknowledge our negative thinking as it is an integral part of positive psychology. It helps, as defensive pessimism does, people accomplish their aims. Defensive pessimism is a strategy that helps us work through our anxious thoughts rather than deny them, to achieve our goals. Dr Norem (2001) discusses this concept in his book: The positive power of negative thinking. It is not a waste of time if you use the experience wisely. Pessimists have only pleasant surprises. Optimism improves our social life and motivates us to never give up, turning failures and setbacks into comebacks and successes. Running away will never make you free.
To turn the mind towards the positive, inner work and training are required. Attitude and thoughts do not change overnight. We see an excellent example of despondency in the Bhagvad Gita where the two armies are facing each other. Arjuna was prepared to go to war but, when faced with the hard decision of fighting and killing his own people who stood in the opposing army, he felt dejected and unable to move; he informed Krishna, his charioteer, that he was not ready to face the enemy who happened to be his own kith and kin. At that moment, he was already defeated in his mind. He was ready to run away and let go of his weapon when Krishna helped him change his attitude and thoughts after quite a long dialogue. A transformation took place in Arjuna when he said “I am ready to fight” and picked up the weapon of war. That change signified his success. He had faced his worst fears and won the day. That was the power of positive thinking in action.
“Positive thinking is a mental attitude that admits into the mind thoughts, words and images conducive to growth, expansion and success. It is a mental attitude that expects good and favourable results. A positive mind anticipates happiness, joy, health and a successful outcome of every situation and action. Whatever the mind expects, it finds”, writes Remez Sasson. Not everyone believes in positive thinking. Some consider it as just nonsense, and others scoff at people who accept it. Even among the latter, few know how to use it effectively to get results. Yet, it seems that many are showing interest in this subject, as evidenced by the many books, lectures and courses about it. This subject is gaining popularity.
The new field of positive psychology is full of examples from ancient wisdom and applications in modern psychology. In Too much wisdom, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia has tried to describe the causes of human flourishing and obstacles to well-being that we place in our paths. He writes: “Our emotions, our reactions to events, and some mental illnesses are caused by the mental filters through which we look at the world.”
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