I’ve recently been wondering about the idea of positive thinking and how misunderstood it is becoming. I am no spiritual guru, but I am dedicated to personal development and better understanding these types of ideologies as a whole. I am a firm believer in positivity and being optimistic. I believe thinking positive, above all else, just makes you feel better. But, there are some things I see and hear related to the power of positive thinking that just sound ridiculous. (You know, those “positive vibes” posts all over their Facebook and Instagram. I even see a bunch of people in clothing that says this.)
It seems that a lot of people believe in positive thinking just as they would a religion. The problem is that your own positive thinking does not negate real life problems. Tragedies and negative occurrences continue to happen even with positive thinking. This can then result in some “positive thinkers” feeling defeated, or feeling “like it isn’t working”, because they are experiencing situations that aren’t ideal or make them uncomfortable. Two sides of people are created from this: people who believe positive thinking will give you a life full of miracles, and people who believe there is no use in positive thinking at all. I want to build a bridge between this gap. I consider myself a positive thinker; but I am also sarcastic, blunt and sometimes a “realist”. You don’t have to walk around sounding like a fairytale creature to appreciate positive thinking.
Positive thinking is not a power that will make your problems go away. Instead, think of positive thinking as a tool to help you work through problems. I see a lot of people preaching statements that essentially say “Nothing bad will ever happen to you with positive thinking”. This has created a tribe of people living in a fantasy world, reciting the mantra “positive vibes” all day long with no idea how to properly understand it. A group of people choosing to think positively isn’t a bad thing, but it can come off as offensive or plain immature to constantly preach this when many people in the world are dealing with some heavy shit. Sometimes reality sucks, and no amount of “positive vibes” will change this. There is a difference in having a positive outlook on something rather than “thinking positive” in order to avoid something you don’t want to deal with.
The book/movie “The Secret” is so controversial because of this ideology. Positive thinking alone can’t get you whatever you want in life. I do like The Secret, but can see why there are naysayers. The book makes statements like “with positive thinking, you can eat whatever you want and never gain weight” or “with positive thinking, you can cure your illness overnight”. While on some level positive thinking can get you these things, it doesn’t work in the way it is being portrayed. There is much more that goes into creating your reality, and turning a blind eye to anything that doesn’t make you happy isn’t a part of it. Understanding the science behind the statements made in works like The Secret can take years to comprehend, so I find it fascinating that people believe it’s simple enough to master after reading one book.
The bottom line is that thinking positive is a good thing. But telling someone who is going through some serious hardship that if they “think positive” it will go away is insulting and naïve. I may sound contradicting right now, because I talk about how important positive thinking is in a lot of my posts. But, I use positive thinking to improve my mood and to help me navigate life’s ups and downs with an optimistic outlook. If bad things do happen (which they do) I will cope better in a positive state of mind. Positive thinking is believing that things will get better when they’re not so great. If something unfortunate really happens to you, you can’t just pretend it isn’t happening. That’s not the most valuable way to use your mind. The best use of positive thinking is to believe that there will be lessons in hardship and that you can overcome whatever life brings you. Use positive thinking to be strong, not clueless. We need to all realize that good doesn’t exist without bad, and there will always be negative events to balance out the positives. Instead of thinking positive vibes, we should try feeling them instead.