Does positive thinking really work?

Does positive thinking really work?

by Lindsay on February 10, 2011

in Attitude, Personal Growth

Graffiti in my neighborhood

Sometimes when I’m having a crappy day, I’ll email a friend of mine and complain. This friend can always be counted on to respond in this fashion: “Try to think about all of the good things in your life right now!”  She insists that if I change my way of thinking and think positively, then my whole world will shift with my attitude. Sometimes this isn’t what I want to hear, but she does have a point.

The Law of Attraction says that whatever you focus your energy and attention towards, you will attract into your life – even if that is something you don’t want. So, if I spend time thinking about how cranky a certain job makes me feel, I’m going to continue to feel like a curmudgeon and continue to have a crappy job. But if I think about how wonderful life is (or can be), then more good will come my way.

In The Hidden Messages in Water, Masaru Emoto claims that words or thoughts directed at water droplets before they are frozen affects the shape of the resulting crystals. So, if thoughts and feelings have an effect on water, surely they have a direct effect on our lives.

But is this true? Can positive thinking really shift our worlds and make everything all better? Some self-help gurus will tell you that if you think it, you will manifest anything you want:

  • The perfect lover
  • Financial abundance
  • Your dream home
  • A fancy car

Photo credit: sidoniehelena on flickr

They’ll tell you if you put a picture of it up on a dream board, it can be yours in only a matter of time! This, I don’t believe.  BUT, I do think positive thinking can help us reach our goals and manifest the life we want to live.

Whatever thoughts you hold in your mind persistently will eventually appear in your physical world. Negative thoughts keep so many people locked in to certain situations and lifestyles. People think they can never escape them and so they never do.

Positive thinking requires some authenticity. In other words, if you’re faking the positivity, then it’s just an act and it won’t last. In order to turn your mind toward the positive, inner work and training are required. Attitude and thoughts don’t just change overnight, as much as we might like them to.

What’s the best way to get on top of the situation and really become a positive thinker?

Be aware of your feelings rather than your thoughts. When you imagine what you want, really feel it and try to amplify the feelings rather than continuing thinking. Get it? Whether your feelings are relating to your current life or the life you want, stay in the positive and let them run the show for a while.

Are you a positive thinker? A realist? A former pessimist-turned-optimist with a story to share about how positive thinking has turned your life around?

It can’t hurt to at least try to be more positive, right? But remember: the reason positive thinking doesn’t always work is that in order to be fully effective, it needs to be your primary attitude in the world and not a piece of baggage you feel compelled to carry around.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Patti Foy | Lightspirited Being February 10, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Hi Lindsay,
You’re courageous biting off such a big topic. I would comment in detail but there’s almost too much to say! Let me just say this is great food for thought, and thanks for putting it out there.
I found you on Lisa’s site… You’ve got a pretty nice place here and I plan to visit often. :-D

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Lindsay February 10, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Thanks, Patti! I feel like I just have so much to say on the topic and this just scratches the surface! I really appreciate your comment & compliment! Gonna make my way over to your site now…

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The Best Writers February 10, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I think being positive is good though I believe that there will always be an equal balance of positive and negative existing even if we think we are being more positive.

Dr De Martini did a study on this over 3 years and he realized that he was always as much positive as he was negative.

Its like trying to split a magnet. Not matter how fine you slice it you will always end up with a piece which is both equally positive and negative.

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Lindsay February 10, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Really? Wow, that's an interesting theory! Would this apply to everyone, though? Because I know some people who are negative most of the time. At least verbally. And some people who seem more positive than negative. I'd be interested in reading more on that study!

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Laura February 10, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Hi Lindsay,

I so agree that positivity requires authenticity. The inner healing work that we do helps to bring up the situations or reasons for why the negativity is present in the first place. It can certainly be a long process to get through all of them, but worth it in the end.

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Lindsay February 10, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Hey Laura,

So true – I hadn't even touched on the inner healing work required in order to even BE authentically positive. Good point! If we're walking around carrying resentment, bitterness and pain without even trying to heal, being positive is just going to feel (and come off as) fake.

PS – Still thinking about how we posted on the same topic on the same day! :)

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Angela Artemis/Powered by Intuition February 13, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Hi Lindsay,
It doesn’t hurt to be more positive. I think the gist of the LOA though is changing our core beliefs though. If we’re positive on the outside but have undermining beliefs on the inside we won’t get anywhere! You make a great point to tell us to focus on our feelings – they will make us aware of resistance we have, so we can examine any limiting beliefs we still hold.

Thanks so much for this insightful article!

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Leslie February 15, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Since you are an empath, do you find that it’s harder to be positive if you are constantly dealing with other’s emotions and problems? I’m curious because, on my own, I am a positive person, but it’s hard for me to stay positive when I’m around certain people who emit strong negative emotions.

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Lindsay February 16, 2011 at 9:24 am

Good point. Absolutely, without a doubt it is hard to stay positive as an empath sometimes. At times, I get in a bad mood and I have NO idea why, until I realize that I'm probably picking up on the emotions of someone sitting next to me. I have to 'shield' myself from a certain someone at work every day, or else I'd be in a funk all day long!

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Anna Barlowe March 1, 2011 at 10:31 am

Actually I’ve read several times that it IS okay to fake being positive, and that this can lead you to feeling positive for real.

Apparently the mere action of triggering smiling muscles by faking a smile leads to reactions in your brain that make you feel better. And your creepy fabricated grin will probably frighten the person currently annoying you, just as an added bonus. Give it a try.

And if that doesn’t work, I just drink some tea and meditate. That fixes everything.

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Lindsay March 4, 2011 at 11:42 am

I've heard that too, Anna. The "fake it 'til you make it" mentality. I'm not sure it works for me, really. I can't "fake" anything, no matter how hard I try, and sometimes that is to my detriment! But if that works for some people, then more power to 'em!

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Moses Jones August 2, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I think I’m equally positive and negative. I have been making efforts to be more positive. My beliefs do tend more to the positive than the negative. Positive thinking is really good when used right. I have to have a solid foundation for my positive thoughts. They have to be rooted in reality for me.

An example is if I’m broke, I can’t tell myself that I actually have money in my pocket. That would drive me insane. I definitely can’t tell myself that I am a millionaire. What I can tell myself is that I can save my money and spend more wisely.

I’ve heard about The Law of Attraction and other “magical” concepts like that. To be honest, I don’t know if I really believe in it. I definitely wouldn’t rule it out either. There have been certain events in my life that I’m not sure I can qualify as coincidences.

I have found that whenever I accept what is “negative” and work towards a “positive” that is not what I truly want. I tend to get the positive that I truly want. (I think gratitude, or appreciation comes into play here).

I think that thinking positive and “faith” is meant more for personal well being as opposed to wishes being granted. But I have had some experiences where a simple “coincidence” speech isn’t going to cut it for me. I am likely attracting certain things.

So I say, positive thinking works when used right.

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