How to be a Positive Thinker: Without the Unicorns & Rainbows
I woke up feeling like crap. One of those depressive days that arrive unannounced, bringing joint aches and other friends along with it. “Today is a bad day” was the very first thought that surfaced in my mind. And then, I paused to think about what I had just thought about without even thinking about it. You know, a subconscious reflexive thought that we often accept as truth without even questioning it.
I Hate Positive Thinking
To clarify, I hate unicorn rainbow thinking that ignores root causes, covering problems up rather than dealing with them. It is a form of escapism and idealism to me. It’s worse when other people use it as a “I don’t want to hear anymore of your boring topic, let’s end it” catch-all phrase. (P.s. This also applies to situations where they cut you off mid-sentence to say, “let’s pray”. A post for another time.) That is not to say, you can’t choose to deal with your own problems this way. If it helps you deal with your situation, then that’s a good thing. What nourishes one type of personality is destructive to another.
“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
The Frequent Battle Within Me
This leads to a frequent battle of body and mind within me. “Today is a bad day.” I lie in bed feeling awful, then I start to feel guilty about all the tasks on my todo list that I won’t be able to accomplish, and feel even more miserable. It is a vicious and stupid cycle, because it isn’t my fault, and beating myself up about it is only going to turn the bad day into a worse one.
It also sets up the framework of how I will be approaching the rest of my day, whether I’m aware of it or not. I will probably end up sick on the sofa, feeling useless and frustrated. Then I might reach out to junk food for lunch, and contribute to the neverending pile of household chores.
I don’t want to force myself to think, “Today is a good day! Yay!”, because it feels self-deceptive and shallow. (Once again, if it actually motivates you — go for it. I am just sharing my thoughts and personal methods of coping here.) So what ends up happening is that I allow “today is a bad day” to be the bad day that I had assumed it would be. I know, I’m so ‘real’ and ‘human’ 😉
Looking at Things from a Different Perspective
So here’s a little trick I’ve learned. I can take that sentence and turn it into another truth, simply by changing my perspective on it. I can take “today is a bad day” and look at it as “today is a good day for resting”. Or “today is a good day for reading that book I keep neglecting as I always want to ‘do’ stuff”. Or “today is a good day to have a party in bed”. Or even “today is a great day to do nothing. Sometimes that’s good for the soul, right?”.
Once I reframe my thought, I immediately feel lighter. The weight of guilt, frustration, anger and blame lifts. I set myself free from the trappings of my own thoughts. It is another complimentary, if unasked for, practice session on genuine positive thinking. Positive in the sense of addition, a plus, an accumulation. Not to run from a problem, but to rise above it. To exercise our ability to adapt, which is after all, how human beings have survived since the beginning of time.
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Originally published at www.achronicvoice.com on October 11, 2017.