Positive thinking

I’ve heard often about the powerful effect of positive thinking on one’s life, and I am fully aware that my thinking is not often as positive as it could be. The problem is that I have never found an effective method for changing my thought processes. I have tried affirmations in the past, but they generally bring up internal resistance in me because my mind perceives them to be untrue statements. So this method has been only marginally successful for me. The only times it has really helped is when I can recognize at least a seed of truth in the statement that I am then able to use to emphasize something I do believe to give it greater focus.

I have recently come across two new methods of changing my thinking to make it more positive that I think have much greater potential for me than affirmations have had. I have only had very limited chances to try both of these, but my experience so far has been promising. I hopeful that with more time and focus these may really help transform my way of thinking.

The first idea I found in a blog post by Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project called Change Your Attitude by Making the Positive Argument. In the video in the blog post, she claims that if you try to make the positive argument about something, your mind will work hard to find reasons that support that positive argument. Therefore, simply focusing on arguing for a positive outcome or a positive feeling, your mind works to support that and your attitude and feelings about the situation will therefore change to more positive ones based on the positive thoughts that your mind is producing.

Her example involved times when she becomes irritated with her husband. When she notices this happening, if she is able to focus instead on arguing for why is is such a good husband (rather than the argument for why he is annoying her), she finds that her mind is able to come up with an abundance of reasons that support the argument that he is a good husband, and her irritation fades.

I like this approach because it doesn’t require me to try to believe something that I don’t yet believe. I simply need to come up with a positive counter-argument to whatever thought my mind is dwelling on, and my mind automatically cooperates in helping me to find evidence to support that positive idea.

The second idea is one that I heard about in a teleseminar with Noah St. John, and he calls his method Afformations. The idea behind afformations is that when we ask ourselves a question, our minds automatically focus on trying to answer that question. Between the focus on the idea behind the question and the ideas generated as we problem-solve on the question to find answers, we find ourselves drawn to new ways of thinking and being.

For example, if I focus on the question of “Why do I not have enough friends?”, my mind will automatically spend time and energy focusing on reasons why I don’t have more friends. This keeps me focused on the negative. However, if I ask myself “Why do I have so many friends?”, my mind will begin coming up with reasons why I have friends. This focus, along with the ideas that it generates for finding and making friends, will lead me closer to the state of having all of the friends I want than the first question will. More examples of how this works can be found in his article in the Huffington Post entitled The Power of the Right Question. He has also published a book on this topic (which I have not yet read) called The Great Little Book of Afformations.

Again, this idea appeals to me because it doesn’t require me to believe anything that I don’t yet believe. I simply change the questions I focus on, and my mind automatically changes the focus of its thinking to become more positive. I don’t even have to believe that the condition I state in the question (e.g., having so many friends) is actually true. I just have to ask the question, and my mind goes right to work heading in a more positive pathway.

It’s going to take time and active effort to work on these two methods to generate the kind of positive thinking and subsequent positive effects on my life that I want to have. I am hopeful, though, that these techniques will provide a useful means of getting to the place I want to be.

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  1. Pingback: The stories we tell ourselves « Journey Through the Chrysalis

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