While this line of thinking might sound good in theory, in practice it is a guaranteed way to never achieve your goals or improve your life. Moreover, always looking on the bright side can be used as an excuse for not improving your life or going after your goals. After all, if everything is great why make any changes?
Contrary to what positive thinking devotees say, applying negative thinking is often necessary to achieve your goals and improve your life. Moreover, negative thinking is a necessity in order to avoid making the same mistakes over and over again. Is negative thinking superior to positive thinking? Not necessarily. A balance of both positive and negative energy is necessary for balance. Let's start off by going over some of the pitfalls of positive thinking.
Pitfalls Of Positive Thinking
[ First ]
First, positive thinkers believe that you should always look on the bright side. To some degree, I agree with this. After all, many people dwell on the negative in order to get attention from other people, which is down right pathetic.
In addition, for most of us there will always be people who are far worse off than we are and we should be grateful for what we have. However, we should not use this line of thinking as an excuse to accept circumstances that we are not content with.
For example, let's say that you are broke, overweight, and have no friends. You decide to apply positive thinking and accept your situation. After all, it could always be worse. You tell yourself you are lucky to be you and you walk around with a smile on your face. You tell yourself that there is no need to make money, make friends, or lose weight because everything is okay as it is. Is this really addressing the problem?
| Do you really believe that someone is genuinely happy in this situation? I don't think so. Let's flip the script and apply some negative thinking to this situation. You decide that you are fed up with being broke, overweight and lonely. You get angry and decide to do something about it. You are tired of your pathetic life and cannot stand it anymore.
The dissatisfaction of the situation makes you furious and you take action immediately.
Without a doubt someone who applies negative thinking in this situation is more likely to achieve his or her goals. Why? Because he or she is in touch with reality and realizes that calling a lame situation good does not change it in the real world.
[ Second ]
Second, positive thinkers believe that having a positive attitude at all times is the key to success. If you want to make money then smile at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you are already a millionaire and start acting like one. By doing so, you will attract lots of money into your life. Sounds like a great plan. Unfortunately it does not pan out in the real world.
Imagine if you decided that you wanted to bench press 400lbs. You have never done more than 300 pounds yet you think that if you just apply enough positive thinking you will be able to bench press 400 pounds.
You spend an hour in the mirror telling yourself that you can do it over and over again. Then you hit the gym load up the bar to 400 pounds and die an agonizing death when you get pinned. 400 pounds does not care if you are positive or not. You could be the biggest jerk in the world and be able to bench press 400 pounds.
Positive thinking will not take the place of training and preparation. Sure being confident and telling yourself that you can do something is great if you have put in the honest time and hard work. However, attempting to bypass training and hard work with positive thinking is a recipe for disaster.
| Note To Self:
I should never try to bench 400lbs without a spotter. Remember to ALWAYS use a spotter when maxing out.
[ Third ]
Third, proponents of positive thinking often state that you should forgive people that have screwed you over. Otherwise, you will harbor anger that will negatively affect your life. In some cases this might be true.
For example, if you kill someone or beat him or her to a pulp for not paying you back some money that they owe you the consequences of your actions will most likely make your life much worse. Also, if you dwell on how someone screwed you over to the point that it consumes your daily thoughts then you are setting yourself up for unhappiness. You are most likely better off putting your energy elsewhere.
However, just letting it go and doing nothing is going to make your feel like a chump. Someone that applies positive thinking will probably say that they were meant to have the money that you leant them and that they will probably benefit from it and that you will get good karma in return. Again, sounds good on paper, but it is not that simple in the real world.
If the person is dishonest and does not pay you back do you really think that they are going to do something positive with the money? I doubt it. Thus, it is highly unlikely that good energy will come back your way for helping out a loser. You don't have to go after someone who owes you money, but at least admit that someone burned you and get that person out of your life.
Make sure that you tell other people as well so that they do not get screwed over. Admitting that you got screwed over will at least prevent you from making the same mistake again.
Lying to yourself and telling yourself that you never made a mistake will just cause you to make the same mistakes over and over again. Some of our greatest lessons come from our mistakes. There is no need to avoid admitting that you made a mistake to be positive. Learning from a mistake is a positive action to take.
[ Fourth ]
Forth, proponents of positive thinking believe in the benefits of affirmations.
For example, if you have a fear of public speaking just tell yourself over and over again that you can do it and that you are already a great speaker. Sorry, affirmations will not make up for experience. If you have never done any public speaking then expect to be terrible at it when you begin. The way to get good at public speaking is to simply do it.
In the beginning you will be terrible, but if you do it often enough you will become more comfortable and get better. Several years ago I had to give a sales presentation for to a group of prospects. I had some trepidation about doing it but told myself over and over that I would be great and did not bother to prepare too much for the presentation.
Well, to make a long story short I got in front of the group and went blank. I started sweating profusely as I tried to remember what I wanted to say but could not remember anything. My supervisor had to come up and save me. It was humiliating and I got angry. I had to do another sales presentation the following week and this time I got prepared and did a good job.
The humiliation of screwing up in front of my peers motivated me to get better. I accepted the fact that I was terrible and that I needed to practice and prepare for the next presentation. If I just told myself that I did fine I would have screwed up again and again.
Affirmations will never make up for real world practice and a reality check. Being positive can make you comfortable and cause you to avoid improving. If you already believe you are good at something why take the time to improve? You have to accept where you are to go where you want to go.
Defining Positive Thinking
At this point you are probably thinking that positive thinking is complete garbage. Well, it really depends on how you define positive thinking. I do no think that being positive is garbage. Sure, it is a good idea to believe in yourself, take chances, and have a positive outlook on life.
We have all been around people who are cynical and negative about everything and they are a real drain to be around. However, people that are super happy about everything such as the singer Celine Dion can also be extremely irritating.
Life is both positive and negative and attempting to deny either is unrealistic. The key is to know when to apply what. Be positive when things are going well. When things are not going well, admit it and use negative energy to change it. Negative energy meaning anger, irritation, frustration, dissatisfaction and even jealousy.
Dissatisfaction will cause you to get angry and anger can be a powerful force to improve your life. If you are jealous of the accomplishments of others, this jealous energy can be a powerful driving force to get you to take action and improve your life. Thus, a negative force such as jealousy can be used to achieve positive result. It just depends on how you use it.
If you really want to be positive then you have to learn how to be negative as well. The key is to be in the middle. If you are negative all of the time you will end up in the same place as people that are positive all the time. This place is the land of mediocrity.
People who are super negative blame everyone but themselves for all of their problems while people who are super positive believe they do not have any problems. Both people are in illusion land and are handicapped by their thinking. You have to be in the middle so if you are a super positive thinker then it is time get that stupid smile off your face!
Stop wasting time thinking that your pathetic life is great and do something right now to change it. On the other hand, if you are a super negative cynic then stop blaming the world for all of your problems and take responsibility for your life! Write down some goals, get dissatisfied, get angry, and make some positive changes now.
About The Author
Mike Mahler is a strength coach and kettlebell instructor based in Los Angeles, CA. For more information on Mike's new DVD, go to www.mikemahler.com.