Our thoughts are not some hapless process that command our life. Or at least they do not have to be. Some people have a natural inclination towards positive thinking; they see the silver lining even on the borders of hell. A grey cloud is just another pretty sight to them.
The way we think has a direct impact on our life. This is not a metaphysical idea. We absorb different signals depending on how we feel, and what we think about. This is easily observable in our day-to-day mood changes. When we can notice the difference between how the world seems in a bad mood, and how it seems in a good one, we can begin to understand the value of positive thinking.
When we are in a bad mood, or are full of negative thoughts, we filter out incoming signals that tell us the world is a beautiful place, because they conflict with how we feel. If we think negatively about a person we can witness them offer out the kindest of gestures, and interpret it as a subtle manipulation. If we think someone is not funny then we will miss their jokes, and when we think that the world is full of more conflict than it is love we will ignore every act of love that can be seen everyday, and focus only on devastation instead.
Positive thinking is not about trying to pretend everything in the world is well and good, nor is it about masking our negative emotions. It is, in my opinion, more useful to try to cultivate a mind-state that can allow us to suspend judgement in any given moment. The more we manage to do this, the more signals we are able to take in, before even labeling them good or bad. Positive thinking is not about ignoring negative signals. It is about seeing positive signals, and knowing how to deal with negative ones in a positive manner.
The Taxi Driver and the Happy Man
All I am trying to do is to demonstrate how our mind-state, our thoughts and feelings, effect our experience of the world. Here is an example from a taxi ride, in which the two characters live in two different realities, whilst traveling the same road:
A man stepped outside of his door. He smiled. The sun was beaming down and dispelling the cold mist of the crisp spring morning. Everyone seems happy today, people smiling and saying hello. There was a collective inspiration in the air. They had all survived winter together. Infused with optimism and hope the happy man got in a taxi, taking a journey to visit some close friends.
To his dismay the taxi driver did not like life today. It was a little chilly outside, and there was a grey cloud on the horizon threatening the coming of a great storm. The happy man looked up at the insignificant cloud, which was dwarfed by the eternal blue of the sky. The taxi driver insisted that Noah would need a new ark soon. The sun carried on beaming, unconcerned with the conflict of reality; it just shone all the same. The traffic too seemed to be something of an apocalypse. How? Why? What were the reasons for this sudden influx of cars. “The school run,” said the happy man, “ it happens every day,” a loud thought threatened his serenity.
Every area of town was run down according to the taxi driver who saw only derelict buildings, and traffic lights on red, for the whole journey. Sure, the derelict buildings were definitely real, but the happy man saw people hugging on the street, and the sun reflecting on the puddles on the roadside, so he looked at those instead. He also noticed that the taxi driver seemed to miscount the number of red lights. The taxi driver said the lights were on red “every time,” when actually, the happy man had noted, the lights had been around four red, three green, and two amber moving onto green, around about an average number that could be expected mathematically speaking.
Who is living in the real world?
Who is correct in this scenario? Who is living in the “real world?” Is there any solid reality outside of our perception and can we know anything of it? These are the real questions that matter when it comes to positive thinking. My answer is that we probably cannot know for sure, but all we can know is that our perceptions are highly influenced by our thoughts and moods. With this in mind it makes a lot of sense to avoid negative thinking. I would rather live basked in sun, than shaded by a cloud that hasn’t arrived yet.
When we think negatively we can experience the most spectacular sunrise as too cold, too early in the morning, or too bright. Sounds daft, but I have heard it. When we think positively we still feel the cold, and we know it is early, but we are receptive to the beauty aswell, so we see the colors, feel the subtle warmth cast over us, and get lost in the moment of celestial awe.
Our experience of life, in it’s entirety, is governed by our way of thinking, and of being, and by the manner in which we give and receive signals to and from the outside world. If we go through life thinking negatively then we miss a lot of what is right about the world. If we always see the positive in life then we only risk missing a lot of what is wrong, which makes for a much more enjoyable life. If we can suspend judgement we can take in as much as we want, the positives and the negatives.
Thinking positively about the negative
As mentioned earlier positive thinking does not mean being naïve. If we are faced with an event, which effects us or the people we love in an upsetting way, then of course we should not pretend everything is alright. There are many injustices all over the world, and when faced with them should we pretend they are not happening? No, we should face up to the reality presented. A positive thinker, however, knows how to make the best of a negative situation. They feel inspired to make changes for the better, to act on something. They can express their emotions in a healthy way, whilst being grounded enough to bring back their positivity when the time is right.
We can draw on negative experience as a chance to grow and learn, and as a chance to express our strength of character; the part of us that pulls through in hard times. When the people around us are affected by something we can offer them our support, and this in itself is positive thinking. It is positive to think about how you are affected, how other people are affected, how it is possible to help.
Positive thinking is not some wishy-washy new age concept. Yes, many, many, well marketed books have made it seem that way, I do understand. The truth is we do not just think positively and suddenly the whole world self rights and bends to our every will. What does happen when we think positively is just as magical though, because we begin to form a different picture of the world. We are all artists. We decide on our own experience, and we make that choice through our thoughts and moods. The value of positive thinking is that it leads to a more positive life experience.
Please see this article for top tips on how to think more positively.
“You are the artist who makes the grass green” — Robert Anton Wilson