The power of positive thinking

The hidden power behind positive thinking brings hope and faith, dispels pessimism, and lends clarity to the larger picture of life
Last Updated 18 February 2019, 19:30 IST

For a vast majority of us, the word ‘common’ defines us. We live common lives and belong to the common flock. Life’s share of common troubles, failures and disappointments visits us in monotonous regularity. Thoughts of defeat and despondency accompany us through our day-to-day struggles and endeavours. Inadequacy and mediocrity stare us in our faces as we go about our mundane lives. We slip and fall, fail and flop, rant and regret our dull existence. There are enough reasons to give in to pessimism and shut our eyes to the adventure of life. And yet, to do so would only be walking straight to a dead-end and setting our lives for further doubt and gloom.

For, there is more than sufficient evidence to prove that those who choose to see life negatively end up unhappy and unfulfilled. On the other hand, for those who make the choice to be positive despite failing circumstances, life gives many chances to re-build and lead happy and purposeful lives. The one important factor needed to transform our ordinary lives into something significant, therefore, as given by the experts themselves, is to tap the hidden power that is present in positive thinking. Because it has been researched and proven that positive thinking is an important ingredient in rising above our commonness to find joy, meaning and fulfilment in what we do.

Though it may not be evident at first blush, positive thinking has powers hidden in its layers that can move mountains, turn defeat into victory, promote optimism, spread hope and spur us to look at life in a refreshingly enthusiastic way. Think positive, be positive, and act in a positive manner, irrespective of what is going on around, is thus the mantra to be internalised to experience joy amidst sorrow, optimism in the wake of setbacks and contentment in spite of disappointments.

There is always a silver lining

Two young crew members survived a devastating airplane crash. One of the two girls was so shaken up that she became sceptical and inferred that this unsettling experience could reoccur any time in the future. The negative attitude sapped her enthusiasm and became a stumbling block to a fuller and purposeful life. The other girl, however, chose to see the positive side of the disaster. In surviving the catastrophe, she believed life had given her a second chance and that called for a more zestful engagement to life. Needless to say, while the former stagnated in both her professional and personal life, the latter led a happy and rewarding life.

This could be pushed aside as an isolated incident. All the same, the scores of people who have beaten all odds with a positive outlook confirm the hidden power of positive thinking. The story of Glenn Cunningham, the celebrated American middle-distance runner who repeatedly broke world and national records for the mile in the 1930s, is a classic illustration. When Glenn was only eight years old, the little country schoolhouse he went to was heated by an old-fashioned, pot-bellied coal stove. The little boy and his older brother had the job of coming to school early to start the fire to warm the classroom. One cold morning, disaster struck as someone had mistakenly filled the kerosene container he used with gasoline. In an instant, the building went up in flames. When help arrived, it was too late to save the older boy while Glenn was unconscious and badly burnt. The doctors attending to him were sceptical about his recovery. From his bed, the semi-conscious boy faintly heard the doctor telling his mother that her son is likely to succumb to his grave injuries. But the brave boy saw meaning in his survival and stayed positive. And survive, he did. Yet, when the mortal danger was past, he again heard the doctor telling his mother that since the fire had destroyed so much flesh in the lower part of his body, he would be crippled for life.

Once more, the little boy remained positive. Though it took him many months to get out of the wheelchair and train himself to walk, he chose to be positive. This positivism gave him the steadfastness that he needed in strengthening his weak legs and in practising to walk and run. Glenn initially started running to school. Slowly, he made it a habit to run to any place he had to go. He would run for the sheer joy he felt in being able to run. As he grew up, with a positive attitude to accompany him everywhere, he joined his college track team. This would be the beginning of his glorious career as a runner. The young man who was not expected to survive, who would surely never walk, who could never hope to run, used his positive outlook to become one of the most respected and accomplished runners of his time. He competed in the 1932 and 1936 Olympics and when he retired, Glenn amassed a mountain of records and awards.

Indeed, there is always a silver lining to the scheme of events in our lives. It is a positive attitude that helps us in spotting that lining among the grey and gloomy clouds that loom in the course of our lives. Over time, this positive attitude will also help in coping with life’s inevitable negative experiences, paving the way for a life of optimism and enthusiasm.

How to think positively

Given the fact that so much power is hidden in positive thinking, it does pay to enrich our lives with this tool of positive thinking and to be surged by the power it can generate. Among the many ways in which this attitude is promoted by positive thinkers, a few stand out, and these can be imbibed by all easily.

The foremost attitude needed to tap the power of positive thinking is to think positive and pursue all events in a positive way. Looking at the glass half-full vis-à-vis half-empty tunes the mind to construct every event in a positive manner. When this attitude is internalised, the mind’s auto response to any situation is always upbeat and positive. Upon training the mind to think positively, it will do well for us to surround ourselves with optimists and other positive thinkers. There is a positive vibe around positive thinkers that is infectious and will reinforce the habit of thinking positively. Conversely, avoiding whiners and complainers so as to not be negatively influenced by their attitude will further strengthen our focus on the positives.

Finally, this attitude needs constant affirmation. Taking the time to read positive material every day will go a long way in keeping our attitude positive. Motivational books, biographies of men and women who used the power of positive thinking in leading worthy lives, and books with positive themes and morals are brilliant resources that will inspire us to master the positive thinking module of life. This time-tested tool of positive thinking works. It comes to the rescue of the vast majority of us who are defined by the word ‘common’, leading common lives and belonging to the common flock. For, the hidden power behind this philosophy brings hope and faith. It dispels pessimism and brings clarity to the larger picture of life. And most of all, it propels the common man to open windows and engage in life with the right and positive attitude.

(Published 18 February 2019, 19:30 IST)

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