You don’t have to be happy to be positive

Positive thinking, resourceful thinking, optimismHow can one be positive all the time when current life circumstances are so challenging? How can one be smiling and happy about problems?

I’m going through my own share of challenges and someone told me to just ‘think positive’ – isn’t that what I teach?

It is AND it isn’t.

People can confuse ‘positive thinking‘ with having to be happy all the time or saying how wonderful things are, much like Pollyanna from the classic book by Eleanor H Porter. That can be difficult when honestly, things aren’t going so well. And right now for many, life is challenging and to overcome those challenges we need to see them for what they are.

So let’s look at what positive thinking is NOT.

  • It’s not smiling or laughing at problems.
  • It’s not burying one’s head in the sand, ignoring problems and expecting everything to turn out all right.
  • It’s not merely labeling a problem as being good.

Instead of using the word ‘positive’, I like to think of it as ‘resourceful‘ thinking. This kind of thinking that taps into the inner resources to make the most of challenges and what life throws at you.

Resourceful thinking is:

  1. Accepting problems for what they are without labeling or judging them to be good or bad.   Eg If it’s raining- it’s not bad, it’s not good, it just IS raining.  (We just spent 5 weeks on vacation in Europe and 90% of the time it was raining/overcast.  No use complaining how bad it was.  It was raining and we made the most of what we could do and had a fabulous holiday.)
  2. Acknowledging the problem or challenge so that you can focus on a solution – what is to be done now so that things can turn out better?
  3. Learning from challenges or poor results so that one can avoid a reoccurrence.
  4. Focusing on what you do want.

We have a choice in how we respond to a situation, and when we take charge of that response and choose actively how to respond, we can be more resourceful. Rather than focusing on the problem and letting fear overcome us, in a resourceful state, we can remain focused on how we desire things to be.

In a resourceful state, we might also see the opportunities in a challenge. A job redundancy can lead to self-discovery and finding greater fulfillment in a new career. A slow economy might create investment opportunities. Ill-health can be a wake-up call to make necessary lifestyle changes.

Mostly resourceful thinking is accepting life’s challenges head-on.

Negative emotions might arise, we might get angry or frustrated that things are not turning out the way we want, or that life is not as easy as we desire. Rather than letting those negative emotions persist and become negative thinking, learn to listen to your emotions.

Ask yourself, what you are deciding at that moment to feel angry/frustrated or upset? What would happen if you decided or thought differently? What would be another way to look at the current situation?

Resourceful thinking is a way to turn your negative thinking towards the positive and to find the solutions what will make your life easier and more enjoyable.

What do you think?

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