A few months back I would not be able to imagine myself writing about positive thinking, just because I did not believe in it as much as I do now. A patient I attended gave me a jolt and threw me into positivism. Let me tell you of his experience.Iqbal was a business man in the Gulf. While returning from a business meeting he met with a life-threatening accident. Though he was alive Iqbal lost all sensations to his limbs- hands and legs and lower body. Only his chest area had sensation. Such was the impact of the accident on his spinal cord.
Iqbal’s brother Hussain called me and asked me to visit him as he was an in- patient in the hospital and could not come and meet me in the clinic. Iqbal was admitted due to some urinary tract infection.
I went to meet him to the room he was admitted in and after taking a brief history I asked him with a lot of concern whether he wanted to talk to me about himself. Iqbal laughed. He asked me “Has Hussain asked you to come and meet me?” I said yes. Iqbal explained Hussain’s concern for him and told me that Hussain was very troubled to see Iqbal bedridden like this. Hussain is in deep depression and has not come and met Iqbal even once.
Now comes the interesting part! Iqbal asked me “Do I look unhappy, Doctor?” I said “No”. He told me of patients in the ICU where he was admitted who lost their eyes, whose brains wet numb and worse- who lost their lives. He explained how difficult it would have been for them. Iqbal goes on…“I can watch T.V., listen to songs, talk to my family and friends, express emotions, taste and eat delicious food, argue with all around me regarding politics and philosophies and was paid a huge compensation! Why should I be sad?”
I was taken aback by Iqbal attitude. That was the time I realised what positivism was all about. Today Iqbal takes tuition for his grand children from his bed. He says that imparting knowledge to the tiny ones has given a satisfaction that no other business has given him. He adds “If not for the accident I would not have known the pleasure of this.” I called Hussain and asked him to go and meet Iqbal at the earliest and told him to be ready to face a pleasant surprise.
Positive thinking was not a concept I was very clear with for myself. Iqbal taught me this theoretically and practically.
DIFFERENTIATING THE TWO
I realised the major difference is while negative thinking shuts doors positive thinking opens new possibilities. Negative emotions like fear, sadness and anger restrict our reactions to them. When we experience fear our responses would be to fight or flee. When we are sad our behaviours would mostly be circling complaining and lamenting and crying. And when angry we may just burst out or bottle it up.
On the other hand when it comes to positive emotions there are so many reactions possible. For e.g. if you fail in an exam positive thoughts could be “Let me see what went wrong” or “This is not the end of the world. Will try better for the next one” or “This wouldn’t be repeated the next time, definite”. These statements provide many options for us to take us towards better destinations.
TRAIN TO BE POSITIVE
The easiest way to decide whether we are a positive thinker or a negative person is to just review our thoughts. Once you assess your thoughts you can see what goes wrong. Change those statements to positive ones for e.g. instead of “How long have I been going on like this? I am very unlucky” try “I will keep on trying till I get there. One day it would come to me” and experience the difference!
The reason why it changes the outcome
It is not magic but yes a phenomenon. The reason why positive wins over negative can be explained in 3 simple steps:
1. With positive thoughts we are propelled forward and given a list of options that we may have been blind to. We are mentally more happy, enthusiastic and energetic.
2. This mind-set changes the way we work towards the destination. We tend to work harder and are more focused.
3. And when all these work together success is more or less a sure episode!
So if you feel the concept of positive thinking is over-rated please try this and decide for yourself. Gradually the nasty circle of negativity is broke and this new circle is created instead. And then no negativity can overcome you. So instead of finding out which comes- first the chicken or the egg, we must try to appreciate achievement and happiness to be a loop that goes round and round.
Positivism and contentment
Another emotion lacking in today’s competitive and stressful world is contentment. It is different from laziness as laziness brings in guilt in the long run whereas contentment leaves you peaceful within. It is the lack of the ability to feel this emotion that creates stress. The want to have more and more, the desire to go beyond ones physical and financial abilities, the urge to conquer more than you need, the craving for all that is owned by others, and many more are the outcomes of being ignorant of the emotion of contentment and this creates the distress in us.
How to be a positive being?
- Think, reflect and meditate: Take time to think about you and your life. It helps us focus and re-focus.
- Have fun with your near and dear ones: This also shifts the focus from me, me, and me to others and the society. It also gives us a shift from what we think pleases us to what we must value as happiness. It helps you keep rooted.
- Better your conversations with yourself: Instead of cursing ourselves and ordering ourselves always, take time to congratulate ourselves. If we examine the talks you have with ourselves it would be like talking to a slave. Don’t be so hard on us. And when we are attempting something new or comparatively difficult let us encourage ourselves rather than tell ourselves that it’s not going to work.
If you are an extremely negative person don’t fret. Positive thinking is 100% trainable. So go ahead and start training yourself today. Start with analysing.
The talks with yourself
Research proves beyond doubt that positive thoughts are more than just superficial; it has a deeper impact on deeper levels of our beings. A major tip- if a thought makes you ruminate over it and creates no effect on the way you act but on the contrary generates negative emotions it could be a negative thought. Whereas a positive thought makes you more proactive.