Having blogged for many years about fostering and raising children I have more recently looked at ways in which adults and young people can achieve happiness and contentment. Last time we looked at taking responsibility for our lives. This time I would like to look at the benefits of thinking positively - for our children, young people and ourselves.
We are what we think. Consider this statement for a moment and its implications. How far reaching it is; how simple; how complex; how easy and yet unobtainable! ‘We are what we think’ means that our thoughts create the person we are now and will be in the future. Just as our bodies absorb food and we become what we eat, so our personalities are a product of what we think. Our thoughts govern who we are and therefore our actions, which clearly influence our future. Research has also shown that our state of mind directly influences our bodies.
Three types of days
We are all familiar with the scenario of ‘getting out of the wrong side of the bed’. Not literally, of course, but that feeling at the start of a new day that we are full of self-doubt and pessimism and at odds with the world. We know what type of day we are going to have – one when we wished we’d stayed in bed. It will be a day when others and situations seem to conspire against us, when we achieve little or nothing, and hostility and aggravation are all around us. On such a day we get exactly what we envisaged, and as a result we feel unhappy and discontented.
We are also familiar with the opposite scenario, when we start the new day full of optimism. Our thoughts and feelings are positive: we focus on what is right in our lives and we are more than ready to greet any new challenge. We are so full of positive thoughts and vibes that we can’t have anything but a good day – we achieve what we set out to and others appear to work with us and are on our side. We feel good about ourselves and are happy.
Then of course there are the days in the middle of the spectrum when we greet the new day with ambivalence, not particularly enthusiastic about what lies ahead but not dreading it. The day holds no surprises, we get by – achieving an acceptable amount, jogging along but not really engaging with those we come in contact with. If someone were to ask us: Have you had a good day? We would reply: It was OK.
In reality these three days were probably no different from each other in their happiness content. Happiness content means the external factors, negative and positive, that directly affect our happiness – for example, a pay rise, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, marriage, divorce, etc. No, what made each of these days different was literally our state of mind: our attitude, based on our positive or negative thoughts. As the optimist sees the glass as half full, so the pessimist sees it as half empty. The only difference between the two is the way they think.
Thoughts are like magnets
A person in a positive state of mind who is thinking positive thoughts expects to be happy, achieve and get along with those he or she meets, while a person in a negative state of mind can see only gloom, despondency, non-cooperation and frustration, with little or nothing achieved. These two people will have their positive or negative attitude confirmed by getting exactly what they expect. This is what is known as a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’, where something we perceive in our minds becomes true because of the link between belief and behaviour. If we think positively then we act positively, which leads to a positive outcome. Conversely, negative thoughts produce negative actions and outcomes.
Positive and negative thoughts are like magnets, attracting those in a similar state of mind. So a person in positive frame of mind will attract positive, happy people, who add to his or her feel-good factor, and ‘repel’ negative ones. Conversely a person in a negative state of mind will be a magnet for the negativity of others, who will collude in feelings of self-doubt and pessimism. Of course, this takes place subconsciously, with each person acting instinctively, without conscious thought or decision.
Since all this has a huge impact on our lives at all levels, mental and physical, we owe it to ourselves to think positively. Positive thought is within our control. We can choose to think positively, which will improve the person we are now and ultimately what happens in our lives. My next blog will be how to think positively.
These blogs are based on my book Happy Adults, available in paperback, e-book and audio: http://amzn.to/tdJJcY