The positive payoff

The positive payoff


There are occasions in every teacher’s life when a lesson turns into a learning experience. 

Some years ago, during a value-education class, I tried to open the minds of high school children to the importance of self-awareness.
To introduce the subject, I requested them to spell out one positive and one negative quality that each recognised in herself.

To my surprise I found that while they had little or no difficulty in pointing out a negative trait, finding a positive one took them much longer. I realised that at an early age, we not only shut ourselves in a negative framework but also find difficulty in stepping out of it easily.
Perhaps, this is not really very surprising.

We live in an imperfect world, surrounded, for the most part, by what is less than ideal.
We are confronted with authoritarianism, criticism, injustice and disappointment. Our leaders are scarcely the role models we want them to be.
Each day brings more news of corruption, crime and atrocities. In a world of dwindling resources, survival has become a rat race.

A fast-paced routine has left little room for simple courtesies and a nurturing, positive approach to life.
Negativity has become the norm, the accepted route to success. We have been tempted into the false belief that negative equals realistic and positive equals unrealistic.
Psychological evidence and scientific research, however, have shown that being positive has great advantages. We hardly ever contest the saying that we are what we eat.

We are ready to acknowledge that healthy foods are necessary for maintaining bodily health. We tend to overlook the fact though that the same principle applies to the mind.
Said the Buddha thousands of years ago, ‘We are what we think. All that we are, arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.’
Today, scientific findings have added even more validity to these words. It has been found that the mind is like a magnet.
We always attract whatever we think about the most or believe in strongly.

Pessimisti Science has a name for it; it is called the ‘nocebo effect’.
On the other hand, when the mind is filled with positive thoughts, the results are positive, too.
Consider, for example these words spoken by one of history’s most illustrious figures.

‘I am the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed in the whole human family, there would not be a cheerful face on earth. Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell; I awfully forbode that I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better.’
Fortunately for us, he did not take his life.

By sheer dint of resolve and hard work, he rose to be the President of a powerful nation. He was besides a great liberator and a wise statesman.
His name will be cherished as long as human memory endures. It is none other than Abraham Lincoln!

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