The Power of Positivity: It’s Not “All Good”

So I’ve mentioned this a few times already in my posts. Positive pop culture and why it doesn’t deliver all that it could, or promises to deliver. It sounds so simple, and on some level it has that distinctive ring of truth, and this is what hooks us. We announce with renewed vigor that we are going to start “being more positive”. Part of us believes this is the cure all. If you are like most people, sooner or later, you fall back into the negativity cycle. A vicious feedback loop, sometimes, so subtle it’s hard to even pin point it as negativity.

These states range from boredom, irritation, discontent, numbness, all the way to fear, anger, hostility, and depression. It’s this static assortment of background noise and internal dialogue that paints our very world. And with this as our lens, our canvas is filled, and painted over daily with images, memories and creations that are far less than satisfactory. In fact, they are far less than anything we would accept for ourselves, if we didn’t continue to talk ourselves into it all the time.

So where does the faux-positivity come from and how can I get the real stuff?

I’m glad you asked! See, the thoughts we force ourselves to think, when we actually feel otherwise on a deeper level, will not last long. I’d like to say here that I am all for positivity. I believe it’s the way to be, but you have to do it right, and do it truly for consistent and lasting results. In order to get to the real stuff, you have to take a real look at stuff. The stuff of life, how you relate to the world, and what is your place in it? Is the world a terrible place, full of bad people who want to hurt you in some form or another? If you have this relation to the world, built from experiences and reinforced through repeated search and find, there is very little chance your positivity will last.You are actually working against yourself when you attempt to habituate thoughts and patterns without looking at, and doing something about, the root of those thoughts. Wallace Wattles stated that you cannot succeed, become better and more whole, in a world which you think is decaying. Following that logic, you cannot maintain and benefit from positive thought if the lens through which you view the world is marred with beliefs and perceptions which are inherently negative.

Where should I begin?

Begin by tracing these beliefs. Start from the thoughts, those unquestioned assumptions which pass through our minds, frequently without notice. This is where the article on You the Thinker, will come in handy. Observe and notice these thoughts. You must first notice them as something separate from you, before you can trace them. An example that may help; Eli is going through his day when a stranger bumps into him, spilling his drink over the edges of his cup onto the sleeve of his newly cleaned and pressed shirt. The stranger is so caught up in whatever is going on in his mind, he doesn’t even notice. Eli feels like he is wronged, yet again, by another “idiot”. “People are such jerks.” He thinks to himself. He may forget that isolated incident soon enough, but that train of thought is still riding on it’s tracks, full speed ahead. It’s time to derail it. If Eli were doing this “tracing” exercise, he may stop after that first reaction and think, “Are all people jerks, or just that guy?”, the next boxcar on this new train may be, “Is that guy really a jerk or maybe something terrible just happened and he’s hurrying off to tend to it?” and finally he may think, “Maybe I did something in the past to someone without noticing, I didn’t mean to do it, he probably didn’t mean to either.” Eli has just broken the train of thought and jumped on a new one by simply and firstly, being aware that it was a thought formed from a larger belief, and secondly, questioning the nature of that belief.

My brother once helped me switch trains one day by a simple suggestion. We were pulling up to an intersection with a protected left turn light that was turning yellow. The SUV in front of us stepped on the gas and clearly ran the red light. It was almost as if I were personally offended by this action. I commented on this behavior and how it was unsafe. My brother than chimed in suggesting that maybe the driver really had to use the restroom and may have been on the verge of going in their pants. This simple suggestion changed my feeling towards the driver and created space for questioning my assumptions. Do this enough and you will be planting seeds of doubt where strong beliefs once were. “The world’s full of jerks”, may turn into,”The world is full of people like me who are just trying to get by.” There is a dramatic difference between the perspectives and the lenses used to reach these conclusions.

In order to reach the place where our positivity is legit, lasting and effective, we must first be aware of underlying notions that are negative. We must examine how we view ourselves and the world in relation to ourselves. This may seem like a daunting task, but taken moment by moment, and observation, by observation, it benefits will accumulate at a rate which will give you amazing returns on your investment of time and efforts.