Revisiting the Glass Half-Empty-- Why Do We Stick There?


 Do you struggle with negativity? Do you find that it is easier to be pessimistic than it is to be sunny and optimistic, even when life has been relatively happy?  You are not alone.  Studies show that people tend to be hang on to their negative view of the world and find it difficult to flip from negative to positive, even when there is evidence all around them of positive outcomes of something they originally viewed with suspicion and cynicism.

Alison Ledgerwood, a social psychologist from UC Davis, does a neat little Ted Talk exploring why it is that we have difficulty in seeing a situation as positive when we have initially seen it a being negative, regardless of the evidence.  This youtube TedTalk is only 10 minutes long, which is one of the things I love about Ted Talks... the speakers manage to insert a lot of food for thought into a brief window of time-- there isn't time to become bored! 

Alison explains that she is interested in how people think, and in finding ways to 'think better'.  Inspite of the sorry state of people tending to get stuck into negative thinking rather easily, Alison gives some examples of what we can do to get 'unstuck'.  See if this helps you!

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With gratitude, I base this blog on the book "Learn to be an Optimist: A Practical Guide to Achieving Happiness" by Lucy MacDonald, a Quebec-based motivational speaker with an academic background in psychology and counseling.

How to do the "7-Day Gratitude Challenge" on Facebook

Facebook is pretty widely known and participated in these days.  Some people are on there daily, posting funny cat videos and a variety of status changes, family photos, selfies, platitude-filled tales that originated as email FWs, and birthday greetings.  Some play a series of games and don't seem to be inclined to do any commentary.  Some come into Facebook daily, some appear with a comment about once or twice a year.

I'm a regular Facebook player.  I know that there are days when my friends who still have me appear on their timelines probably go, "oh great, maybe today is the day I 'unfriend' her" (because I can do what is referred to as overposting.)  There are actually days when I do NOT post on Facebook.  I think a little occasional retreat or "fast" is not a bad thing where 'the technology' is concerned.  We do need to stay connected with the 'real' face-time (and not the IPhone variety) world.  We need to get out into our garden, talk to real neighbours over the fence, bathe the dog, phone an ailing auntie, go to church, read a book, take a long walk and/or volunteer somewhere that has no internet signal.  Old-school 'connecting'.

Recently I was 'nominated' to be part of a 7-day Gratitude Challenge.  The friend who invited me probably knew that I was 'up to it'.  Basically, it is an online shortened version of the Gratitude journals that I've discussed on here, and that many people have tried at least once in their attempts to get their sh** together, overcome depression, or just put more zip into their lives.  I enjoyed doing the Facebook version a lot and thought that there are likely people out there who might also enjoy it, but who might be a little anxious about what it might entail. The following is meant to help 'decide' you and give you a few tips to take down that anxiety and allow for a pleasant, uplifting experience that has the potential of giving you more personal insights and bonding you with your FB buddies, new and old.

The Invitation or "Nomination"
One evening, a week ago, my computer did that sometimes-irritating little bing noise that signals that someone has just 'tagged' me in a post.  I toggled over to Facebook from whatever else I had been engaged in, and clicked on the message from my friend Lorne.  It read:

Posting 3 positive things for 7 days and nominating 2 people each day to do the same. 

Day 1:

1. My friend Joe Blow honoured me by nominating me for this awesome responsibility/challenge.

2. Last Fall an optometrist told me I had the beginning stages of macular degeneration. I wanted a second opinion and visited an ophthalmologist yesterday. He saw no signs of the condition

.3. It started raining this afternoon. In the five years I've been living in the C... V..., this is the first time I can remember it raining in the summer. Apparently, last winter we had the least precipitation on record. The snow was melted by mid-June and inflow into C... Lake is at a record low. We are moving to Stage 2 water restriction on Friday. Bring on the rain Today I am nominating Anne Smith and Cynthia 

Well, as soon as I saw my name in the way that signified that I'd been tagged (a 'live' link to FB-me that was responsible for the 'bing' alert) I had one of those minor anxiety attacks that immediately brought with it a pile of questions:
(1) wow, will I have the courage to actually post something so "personal" on Facebook?
(2) will I appear too religious to my not-so-religious/atheist FB friends and not-spiritually-connected-enough to my Church buddies?
(3) will I suddenly seem like an entire stranger to people who have known me for 40 years in an attempt to seem friendly and cool to people who only know my facebook persona?
(4) will anybody else what to take a chance on this gratitude challenge or will I do my little thing everyday and have no one else willing to participate?
(5) will there be enough things to be grateful for everyday or will I be repeating myself over and over, good food, grateful for a roof over my head, my family, my dog...??
(6) will I do my usual verbose overposting and annoy even my most forbearing of long-time friends (i.e., the ones who saw me throw up in a drunken episode back in my post-adolescent college days)?
(7) and on and on and on (think of all your own most juvenile, infantile, insecure, neurotic and negative-obsessive thoughts)

Which is a good place to start... it really indicated just how much I needed to revisit the Gratitude Journal concept!  It was time to pull my head out of my...um... self-absorption and take a good look at my blessings.  It was also a great opportunity to invite diverse others to share that experience.  Where else but Facebook would you have the choice of inviting the mix of your childhood friend, a cousin, someone you met in an online knitting group, a fellow-church member, your chiropractor, a motivational speaker you would never have the courage to ask in person but for some strange reason seem okay with asking publicly on Facebook, college buddies, your son's friend, your friend daughter, etc. etc. ?? 

 It's exciting, like a first day at college or a jump off a pier into water of unknown depth and composition.  But, it's really just another Facebook thang, when all is said and done.  Reasonably tame, because you decide just what you will disclose and who you will invite.

How Techy Do I Have To Be?
I think there are at least 2 things you can learn (if you don't already know them) that will definitely be assets to the Gratitude challenge:
(1)Cut, Copy and Paste: If you don't know how to do this yet, here is a sterling chance to learn.  You will want to do this so that you can replicate the first few lines of the Challenge each of the 7 days for the new friends (and new readers), that is:  Posting 3 positive things for 7 days and nominating 2 people each day to do the same. 
Day 1 (etc.) and maybe the last line that reads:Today I am nominating Anne Smith and Cynthia 


(2) Tagging: The act of making the invitee (or nominee) name live-linked to the person you are inviting.  If you have Anne Smith as a Facebook friend (necessary for this process), when you begin to type Anne Smith's name you will notice that under her name her Facebook 'handle' or 'tag' pops up (the thumbnail of her profile picture and whatever name she uses on Facebook to identify herself).  If you click on this 'tag' it will replace the portion of the name that you are typing with her full 'handle' and that will be a 'live/dynamic link' (and which will alert her to the fact that you are connecting with her, either as a 'bing' and a link in the top right messaging area or just as a message).  When she clicks on the message menu she will go directly to your message where you have 'tagged' her as a nominee.  At this point, live links/tags are in blue.  If the name is in back like all the other words in your post, it is NOT live.  If it is not a live link she will not be aware that you are inviting her without reading everything in your timeline... and you know how likely that is to happen if she has 500 Facebook friends (or even 5).  

How wordy or fancy do I have to be?
No real rules here, my friend.  Ultimately, this is for your benefit (or so you can tell yourself to knock back the people-pleaser guilty tapes).  Most people do one or two lines of positives statements for each of the 3.  Some run them all together, or do three individually over the course of the day.  Those of us who enjoy blah-blah-blah might do a paragraph for each of the 3 positives-- not sure why, but you can speculate.  The point is to focus on revealing 3 positives that are personally pleasing to you.  They can be from the day at hand, or from your life experience in general.  They can be something like "I love rainbows and saw an awesome one this afternoon after the rain" or "I am so grateful for warm socks on a cold day."  One friend just listed hers as: "I appreciated the warm sunny day, work was uneventful, and I had a nice, peaceful evening at home".  You make the rules.

Nominations or Invitations:
You will probably want to invite people who are likely going to participate enthusiastically, but, really, don't worry about it.  Invite who you want to invite, or even who you see is still up at 3a.m., maybe needing some extra mental/emotional stimulation. (haha) No one is policing for people who don't follow through, so don't concern yourself with that.  No browning points here (from who? Facebook? hahahahha).  If your Facebook friends are all unwilling, unavailable or unfriending you, don't sweat it.  Your job is basically to do your 3 positives and graciously invite 2 chosen luckies each day for 7 days.  That's it.  

Other Little Niceties You Can Do and That Others Will Do For You:
Basic Facebook etiquette includes a certain amount of 'friendly' engagement. If you are invited, and you are pleased, you can use that pleasure as your first 'positive' on Day 1 couched such as: (1)I am honoured to have been invited to be part of this gratitude challenge by my friend Joe Blow .
           
When you tag "Joe Blow" he will frequently 'like' your acknowlegement (sort of noblesse oblige) and may (often) also comment on your positives.  This is, of course, gratifying and encouraging.  You will likely be likewise interested in encouraging your invitees as they spell out their daily positives.  Very win-win.

Outcomes:
It is quite likely that you will experience a new closeness to the people who participate with you in this daily 'challenge'.  You will probably learn something positive about them, and maybe even about yourself.  So have fun!  You don't really have to wait for someone to invite you if you want to do this-- go ahead!
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With gratitude, I base this blog on the book "Learn to be an Optimist: A Practical Guide to Achieving Happiness" by Lucy MacDonald, a Quebec-based motivational speaker with an academic background in psychology and counseling.

Optimism and Whatever...

You might have come across the saying "Oh, she's a true "Psalm 31 Woman" but have you heard about the "Philippians 4:8 Positive Thinker?" I have been meditating lately on various presenters I hear in Church or on DVD who go beyond the usual 'great sermon' or 'motivational presentation' who open my ears to something beyond meeting my own needs.  What do they say out loud in this age of sage advice and inspiration overload that re-boots a keen desire to serve others as Jesus did-- to let hurting people know that there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother/sister?

Today it came to me that the presenters I am most inspired by (or lately, at least) are living out the recommendations of St. Paul to the Philippian believers:
King James 
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
New King James
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
21st Century New King James
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.
NIV (New International Version) 
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Today’s New International
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
NAS (New American Standard) 
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

The Message
Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.

Amplified Bible
 
For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].

Contemporary English
 
Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don't ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise.

American Standard
 
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

New International Readers’
 
Finally, my brothers and sisters, always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things.
My husband and I read the passage aloud from different translations above. Put all the wonderful descriptors together and you have a vocabulary well worth meditating upon and, under the words is the Word, Jesus Christ, the only true embodiment of all of these characteristics.  You have a solid, positive guide to making choices that will uplift, encourage, and inspire.  Others and yourself.  And you will notice those other "Philippians 4:8 Positive Thinkers" you come across in your life.

Some Exercises Towards Becoming a Philippians 4:8 Positive Thinker:

  •  Take your favourite translation of the passage and commit it to paper.  Place it around your home and on your car visor, etc. so that you are able to memorize it to share with others, to repeat when you are feeling less than positive.
  • Make an effort to use Philippians 4:8 as an assessment guide around what movies you choose to watch, what books you pick to read, how you relate your day's events to your spouse, the dinner table conversation you engage in, etc. __________________________________________ 
The Descriptors from Philippians 4:8 (different versions)
true honest just pure lovely of good report virtue praise noble praise-worthy right admirable excellent honorable of good repute worthy of praise authentic compelling gracious best beautiful things to praise worthy of reverence seemly lovable  kind winsome admirable holy friendly proper truly worthwhile worthy of respect

**Bible image courtesty of abcdz2000 via sxc at http://www.sxc.hu/gallery/abcdz2000
With gratitude, I base this blog on the book "Learn to be an Optimist: A Practical Guide to Achieving Happiness" by Lucy MacDonald, a Quebec-based motivational speaker with an academic background in psychology and counseling.

Prepare for the Best- Building Optimism in Your Children

by Sheila Gregoire

Pessimism and optimism are character traits that our children are born with. But that doesn't mean that we have to accept them! Steering our children towards optimism helps them embrace life better.

Last summer, for instance, my family took a trip to an orphanage in Kenya. Before leaving, we were all required to get several shots. Being a parent who believes in full disclosure, I told my kids when I made the appointment. Big mistake. Rebecca, my older daughter, took it in stride. Katie, my younger one, didn't sleep for a week. Rebecca laughed at her mercilessly.

Then came the big day. Katie went first, and she didn't even flinch. She said, at the end of it all, “that wasn't that bad." And Rebecca? We had to peel her off the ceiling.

Optimistic Kids vs. Pessimistic Kids

Afterward, I asked both of them which was better: to worry incessantly about something that may turn out badly, or to not worry at all, and then be surprised when life kicks you in the teeth? In other words, would you rather be a pessimist or an optimist? Would you rather trust and have faith, or would you rather worry? Pessimism believes in preparing for the worst, just like my youngest daughter did. She cried, she worried, she visualized, she whined. That way, she said, there was no way it could possibly be as bad as she imagined.

Preparing for the Best is more Fun

Optimism, on the other hand, is embodied in my Rebecca who, as a firstborn, thinks she's invincible. Nothing bad is really going to happen, so when it does, boy is she surprised. She may not handle it as well as Katie, but she still emerges on the other side. I tend towards the Katie side of life myself, but in watching Rebecca, I really believe life would be a lot more fun if we all prepared for the best, rather than the worst.

Pessimistic Children Lose Out on Life

That doesn't mean we should all be carefree; just that if we're so focused on the bad that may happen, we may miss out on the good. And we're far less likely to try new things or take those big leaps because something-we're never sure quite what-may be lurking just around the corner. So we live a safe life. A comfortable life. But not a very big life.

Pessimistic Children are Risk-Averse

An aversion to risk is closely related to pessimism. My Katie, as talented as she is, won't take dance lessons, though she dances around the house. She might not like it, you see. She didn't volunteer to do a solo in the Christmas play, though after watching all her friends do it, she remarked she could have, after all. And the piano competition we entered them in this year? She dreaded it, until it came time for her to play. As we were leaving, she said, “that was actually kind of fun. Can I do it again?" After listening to her whine about it for two weeks, I almost strangled her. Those kids who have a “prepare for the worst" personality need to be pushed to try new things. But once they do try these things, and the sky doesn't fall, they're more likely to do it again.

Create Opportunities to Kick-Start Optimism

Require your pessimistic child to do at least one new thing every season. For Katie it has meant certain sports and certain competitions, but in your family it may be something else. Support them through it, encourage them, pray with them, and even quit if it becomes too much. But make the effort. The more a pessimistic child is stretched, and finds out that the world actually is fun, the more optimism can grow.

Pessimism is not a fixed personality trait. Continue to nudge your little one towards new adventures, and encourage them to aim for the sky. You just may wake up one morning to hear your child say, “I just can't wait!". And that's a moment I'm looking forward to as well!

Sheila Wray Gregoire is the author of four books specializing in marriage and household organization!
To encourage responsibility in your children, get your FREE household organization charts,
including kids’ chore sheets, family organization checklists, household planners, and more!

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With gratitude, I base this blog on the book "Learn to be an Optimist: A Practical Guide to Achieving Happiness" by Lucy MacDonald, a Quebec-based motivational speaker with an academic background in psychology and counseling.

Brits are Demonstrating Saving Optimism (Nationwide)


Article Submitted by: Sam Gooch

Wednesday, 21 April 2010



Britons are taking an increasingly positive view towards saving money, research from one building society shows.

People appear increasingly willing to make use of savings accounts, if a new set of figures are anything to by.

Data released by Nationwide in its latest Savings Index revealed an overall score of 94 points for March. Not only is such a figure three points above that recorded in the previous month, it is also 15 higher than the tally of 79 noted in March 2009.

Such growth appears to be driven by an increased propensity for regular saving, as some 51 per cent of people now claim they are setting cash aside into UK accounts on a regular basis, up three percentage points from February. Meanwhile, an increasing number of people believe government policy is encouraging them to set aside money for a rainy day.

And having a particular impact on people's opinions on saving, however, appears to be individual saving accounts (ISAs). With March the last full month consumers had to invest in the account before the end of the fiscal year, the building society claims many people have focused on making the most of the tax-free savings that such products offer.

The building society goes on to report that two-thirds of the total ISA business in the savings industry takes place between February and May, making March a particularly popular month to make use of such products. However, with the next financial year now underway consumers may be keen to continue making contributions to such products.

Andy Hutchinson, head of savings for Nationwide, states: "Now that the new tax year has started, some savers' attention will be switched on to saving as early as possible in an ISA to maximise their tax benefit. With this in mind, it wouldn't be a surprise to me if the Savings Index rose again in April. There has already been a nine-point increase since January 2010."

With such comments in mind, those keen to make use of an ISA could be well advised to be aware of how much they will be able to place into such accounts. Recent research from Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks showed nine out of ten (89 per cent) Britons are unaware of how much they can place in the tax-free savings products, while one-fifth state they did not know they could make regular deposits into such accounts rather than investing lump sums.

__________________________________________ With gratitude, I base this blog on the book "Learn to be an Optimist: A Practical Guide to Achieving Happiness" by Lucy MacDonald, a Quebec-based motivational speaker with an academic background in psychology and counseling.

Good News for Post-Menopausal Optimists: You Live Longer

Thursday, April 23, 2009 
by: Reuben Chow, citizen journalist
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(NaturalNews) A large study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and presented at the American Psychosomatic Society's annual meeting in Chicago has found that optimistic post-menopausal women were healthier and lived longer than their less upbeat counterparts.

Details and Findings of Study

The study team, which was led by Hilary Tindle, an assistant professor of medicine at the University, had looked at data from almost 100,000 women who were part of the Women's Health Initiative, a study which follows women aged 50 and above and has been ongoing since 1994. On average, the women's health status was tracked for a period of about 8 years.

The researchers defined "optimism" as the expectation that good things, as opposed to bad things, will take place. It was found that such women had 14% lower risk of dying from any cause and 30% lower risk of dying from heart disease during the study's follow-up period, as compared to their pessimistic counterparts. In addition, the optimists were less likely to have hypertension and diabetes, as well as to smoke cigarettes.

The study team also looked at another trait - the tendency to be "cynically hostile" towards other people. Women with this trait were more likely to agree with statements like "I've often had to take orders from someone who didn't know as much as I did" and "It's safest to trust nobody." Generally speaking, such a tendency indicates an overall mistrust of people.

Women in this group also suffered poorer health, having 16% higher risk of dying from any cause and 23% higher risk of dying from cancer during the follow-up period, as compared to women who were the least cynically hostile.

Significantly, even after the researchers accounted for influencing factors such as health status, lifestyle, income, education, physical activity, alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking, the same trends remained, with optimists enjoying better longevity than pessimists. The researchers are unclear if negative attitudes do indeed directly cause poor health, although their findings do imply an association of some sort.

Being Optimistic and Positive

And it's not just about health. Optimists, it seems, are better achievers in life, are better able to cope with stress, and can take on life challenges more resiliently; these traits had been revealed in previous research.

For the skeptics, consider the following point. In his book "Being Happy!", author Andrew Matthews points out scientific experiments showing the incredibly powerful and toxic effects of negative emotions. When blood samples from people who were experiencing serious anger of fear were injected into guinea pigs, the animals dropped dead within a mere two minutes.

Now imagine what the toxins created by negative emotions such as anger, fear, frustration and stress are doing to our own bodies on a daily basis. It is arguable, but these toxins could even be more potent health-destroyers and killers than the external poisons we ingest, inhale, and absorb every minute of every day.

For people who are somewhat naturally upbeat and positive, the findings of the Pittsburgh study will come as good news. But those who tend to be a little more negative and easily discouraged should not fret, because, according to some experts, optimism is a trait that can be picked up and applied.

Some useful suggestions for becoming more optimistic include staying away from negative environments, staying in the company of persons with brighter outlooks, and focusing and celebrating one's strong points instead of concentrating on the weak ones.

Stay cheerful!

References

Optimism May Have Life-Extending Benefits (http://www.healthnews.com/family-he...)

Optimists live longer and healthier lives: study (http://www.reuters.com/article/heal...)

"Being Happy!" by Andrew Matthews

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About the author

Reuben Chow has a keen interest in natural health and healing as well as personal growth. His website, All 4 Natural Health, offers a basic guide on natural health information. It details simple, effective and natural ways, such as the use of nutrition, various herbsherb remedies, supplements and other natural remedies, to deal with various health conditions as well as to attain good health. His other websites also cover topics such as depression helpomega 3 fatty acids, as well as cancer research and information.

**above image courtesy of Horton Group
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With gratitude, I base this blog on the book "Learn to be an Optimist: A Practical Guide to Achieving Happiness" by Lucy MacDonald, a Quebec-based motivational speaker with an academic background in psychology and counseling.

Positivity: A Working Definition


I believe, in some ways, agitating for social change is the most positive form of thinking there is. In order to do so, we must believe that one person can make a difference, that our opinion is worth voicing, and that the world can become better - if we are willing to make an effort to shape it that way.” Barbara Ehrenriech
Every now and again I get suggestions about topics for the positivity quest. I have been pondering Barbara Ehrenreich’s latest release Bright-Sided and how her important criticisms and well pointed shortcomings of the practice of positivity impact my own goals to change my mind. Ms. Ehrenreich is trained in biological research and her previous works put her at the forefront of the pack in underlining the realities of social inequity.
It was during her own recent battle with cancer that the prevailing therapeutic model of positive thinking came to enrage her. She was indignant about the idea that her cancer and the “barbaric” chemo treatments that she endured were in her mind, sugar coated to be a wise teacher. Bright-Sided starts with her questioning the scientific method and findings of studies which support the correlation between positive mind training and health crisis outcomes. She then expands the critique of positivity to include the many ways that in her view, the current cultural mechanism of expecting positive mindsets is equal to silencing the opposition and demanding complacence.
In her worldview, positive thinking places the blame for any life situation on bad thinking practices. She links positive thinking to the 70’s new age thought and the more recent magical “secret” thinking that sells big in waves. All of these positive thinking movements “blames the victim.” Whether the illness is physical disease, mental instability or socio economic poverty and despair. She traces the roots of positive psychology to many right wing, conservative organizations like the Templeton Foundation whose primary aim has been in maintaining the status quo.
In reflecting on her position, it occurs to me that the question she is asking about positivity is not properly framed. Her version of realism juxtaposes negativity and positivity. Re-framing the issue by reflecting on the relationship that the individual has to their life situation is a more helpful view of what positive thinking can bring to life. From a Buddhist perspective, situations are always neutral. They come in all shapes and sizes and realistically provoke an equally wide range of emotions including painful and difficult challenges of grief, loss, sadness, disappointment, anxiety and fear.
True positivity would never look to dismiss or diminish the honest experience of these emotions. Applying positive thinking to these emotions gives them an opportunity to move through you and transform your relationship to yourself and the world. Negative thought can often leave you stuck with the feelings and unable to see the range of choices available to you.
Human brain development is unique in all mammals because of our ability to think about how we think. Choosing a positive relationship to your personal situation in life gives you the advantage of looking for the love, peace and joy that we all hope for in our time on the planet. Illness can be a profound wake up call and the process of healing can present life transforming evolution which is true whether you live or die.
Even considering the vast extremes of socio economic realities that much of humanity lives in, studies have shown that this is not the final determinant in happiness or life satisfaction. Poverty of stuff is not always equal to poverty of spirit. Extreme wealth does not ensure happiness, wisdom or peace. The capacity for positive thinking is not magical thinking or wishing- it is about choosing how to relate to what is happening to you. Human empathy and the capacity towards altruistic action are not determined by a person’s net worth.
Mother Teresa was a channel of life energy and resources that she did not own. She is a good example of where positivity is grounded in truth and action in the world. After her death records of her own pain and doubt were uncovered. She did not live a Pollyanna positivity, facing the illness, poverty and death around her, but she chose to see the light in people that were lucky enough to meet her. How people deal with life situations has everything to do with whether or not they are open to learn something.
Choosing to find moments of joy, meeting people who are awe-inspiring and being graced by experiences of gratitude are ways of seeing that change you and give you the potential to make both your immediate world and the larger community better. They are defined as positive because they retain a reverence for life and hope for the highest part of who we can be.
Wendy Strgar is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love and family. Wendy helps couples tackle the questions and concerns of intimacy and relationships, providing honest answers and innovative advice. Wendy lives in Eugene, Oregon with her husband, a psychiatrist, and their four children ages 11-20.

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With gratitude, I base this blog on the book "Learn to be an Optimist: A Practical Guide to Achieving Happiness" by Lucy MacDonald, a Quebec-based motivational speaker with an academic background in psychology and counseling.