I’ve never been particularly keen on the expression ‘positive thinking.’ It has somehow a built-in tendency towards pretending that everything’s great, and ignoring anything that isn’t by burying your head in the sand – that’s the ostrich reference! I prefer to call it constructive or useful thinking.
The intention of the phrase is good to remember though. It is about the perspective you choose to take on whatever is happening, not about avoiding the reality of what’s going on. No-one has the perfect life, with everything working well – even if it looks that way from the outside, we all find some things irritating or frustrating or upsetting. So the trick to making it work as well as possible without pretending is two-fold.
Firstly, we need to make sure we notice what is working for us. This isn’t just about appreciating the good things in life; it also sets us up a constructive or positive frame of mind.
From that, we can look at what isn’t so good in our lives, and decide what to do about it. There are some things we can actively change. For example if we have a dripping tap that is irritating us, we can call a plumber and get it fixed – (confession: it took me over a week to finally do this!)
There are other things we can’t change directly, but we can change our reaction to them. I can’t magically stop the pouring rain, but I can either dress appropriately to be out in it, or treat it as an opportunity to do an inside job I’ve been meaning to do for a while, or just an opportunity to sit and read a book or watch a movie. I can make the best of the situation.
We don’t feel any better about things that aren’t so good in our lives if we just moan or complain about them, or if we berate ourselves for letting it affect us negatively. The situation doesn’t change that way either.
We do feel better if we remember that those situations aren’t all that’s going on in our lives – some parts are good – and if we choose to act or react differently, so as to alleviate the negative effect.
And it’s really all about feeling better about our lives, isn’t it?