From positive thinking to positive psychology – directions for use
There is an old saying: always prepare for the worst. That is to say, expect for the worst case scenario. Every time you try to build something: a concept, a personal project, a dream. Allegedly, you will suffer less if things go wrong. And you will have all the more reason to be happy if they happen to go well… against your expectations. That is an awfully strange philosophy!
In other words, I send negative energy to the Universe and feel relieved when it comes back and hits me in the face with even more power: there you are, it turned out badly – what a relief! It could have been worse, so… So I encourage myself to go on with this self-destructive attitude. And I keep preparing for the worst. Need I wonder why the sunlight that struggles to make it to my street is fainter and colder with each passing day?
Turn around 180 degrees
This is what I choose instead: turn around and do an about-face. I turn 180 degrees to the left. Back to the positive thought: always expect the best. See the world through rose-colored glasses. The glass half full. The state of mind which – as masters assure us – helps us achieve everything we want in life.
How do you actually do this? Bathing everything – thoughts, events, expectations, people, things – in the refreshing light of positive psychology. With practice, we will manage to spread this light even on unhappy events or bad people, by strongly believing that for every problem there is a solution.
It is NOT the same thing as positive thinking
If we examine them carefully, going over each one’s lineage with a fine-tooth comb, it turns out that positive psychology and positive thinking are not one and the same thing. Neither have common roots, nor are they the same age (they appeared in different decades) – according to experts, who invite us to convince ourselves:
Positive psychology has old roots, but it was officially declared as a psychology discipline in 1998, at the annual congress of the American Psychological Association, by its president elected for that year, the famous psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman. The goals of positive psychology, a full-blooded offspring of the “mother” psychology born from in-depth studies and scientific research endorsed by experts and published in scientific journals, are health, general well-being, optimism and the methods by which these desiderata can be achieved by the individuals who “lack” them, for the full flourishing and fulfillment of human being, both individually and as part of a group.
Positive thinking was put forth in various publications signed by authors from various fields. These publications caught on with the public and became best-sellers. Positive thinking is not based on scientific research, nor is it endorsed by professionals working in the field of psychology. One of its most illustrious founders is the American minister Norman Vincent Peale, author of the book “The Power of Positive Thinking” (1952). Over the last six decades, this school of thought has grown and refined itself, defining its baseline concept: each individual has the power to weave the web of his own life, acting consciously on the events that form its pattern. The secret of this power is positive thinking and the law of attraction: each thought sends out magnetic frequencies which attract similar thoughts. Reasonably enough, in order to obtain something we want, all we have to do is think about that thing. Well, not just that, as the way we think about it is equally important: if we tell ourselves that we will succeed, this is exactly what will happen. Likewise, if we expect not to succeed (think the worst of it), we will find ourselves trapped in a failure spiral we can hardly escape from.
Separated in theory, united in practice
Despite the differences in the history of the two schools of thought, an impassable boundary between positive psychology and positive thinking could not be set. When it comes down to it, we cannot really help seeing them as synonyms. For some reason, we feel that the differences in target (“positive psychology” – the psychologists’ field of study, scientific discipline and therapeutic method/“positive thinking” – “popular” philosophy and self-therapy) are mere cumbersome nuances. Therefore, we put both of them in the same boat that carries us on the ocean of universal energy.
Our human nature “condemns” us to negativity
As humans, we are wired to have a soft spot for the dark side of existence. To focus on bad things that happen to us.
Our divine nature commands: “Left about!”
The point is to erase negation from our minds, to do an about-face, turning around 180 degrees.
For instance, rather than telling ourselves: “I don’t want to be lonely my entire life”, “I just can’t lose weight”, “I can’t really adjust to this group of people”, we should say: “I will find the love of my life”, “I will reach my goal – to lose X kilos”, “Soon I will become one of them”. This type of self-suggestion is helpful in any circumstances: love life, social life, health, well-being etc. Not (always) by itself, but by practising and persevering.
Rephrase your thoughts
Here is a handy exercise: we rephrase every thought we have, cancelling its negative power and using the present tense only. We repeat the positively phrased sentence, out loud or mentally (depending on the circumstances), until the form is no longer devoid of content and the words start to come from within – an unprocessed expression of the positively stated thought. Furthermore, for the impact to be stronger, we add some emotion. And the unbreakable conviction that, yes, it will definitely work!
From positive thinking to positive psychology – directions for use by Technology for Life is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.