The Real Definition of Positive Thinking

It’s about acceptance and change.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Often people ask: “Why should I think positively when I have health problems, I feel pain, I’m suffering and ‘bad’ things keep happening to me? Thinking positively just does not make sense. Just the thought of thinking positively amongst chaos makes me even more disappointed and frazzled, especially when unfair things keep happening to me.”

There are still a lot of misconceptions about positive thinking. Often, positive thinking is considered creating an illusory world, flying in the clouds, being dreamy, escaping from reality, viewing the world through rose-colored glasses, even being naive and losing a realistic assessment of situations.

But what is positive thinking?

To think positively doesn’t mean that only “good” things will happen, that you will never be sick and will be immune to accidents and failures and that you will not have problems, that you will not feel pain; it doesn’t mean that everyone will love you and that you will never suffer, and that you will always be a winner. Being positive does not mean that you will always be smiling and not feeling other emotions other than love and joy, and that you will not be faced with difficulties.

Yet, when you think positively, you will look at all these “bad” things in a different way. You will look forward to every moment, as a gift of life, given to you along with every challenge you have to face, enabling you to grow and learn something along your path of life.

Positive thinking is actually an attitude, a change in attitude to everything that happens to you. It is turning disadvantages and misfortunes into advantages, transforming everything negative into something positive and constructive. As the saying goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Thinking this way, you are able to feel freedom and independence from the external factors life faces you with. Positive thinking opens your senses to understanding, beauty and love amongst all that surrounds you. Then you are able to notice every little thing.

Misconceptions of positive thinking:

Positive thinking does not mean that you delude yourself that everything is wonderful, especially when you are hurting inside. Positive thinking doesn’t mean that one must deny internal pain.

On the contrary — to think positively is to stand firmly on your feet and see reality as it is. Not to suppress your feelings and to say, “I’m very well, everything is wonderful” and to admit what you feel, when you’re experiencing it and to release it. It is to accept the pain, the fear of pain as a part of life and to learn and grow through it. This is just a way to get through situations, reflect on them, and not allow them to identify you.

Positive thinking is not just a hope that something will come to help you. Positive thinking helps you realize that this Powerful Force is actually within you and that it is always available to you and that everything that happens to you is in your own hands.

Positive thinking doesn’t happen when you impose your expectations to the world and when you hope that everything will happen according to your “script” of life. Being positive means to be flexible and to use any “unforeseen” events as opportunities of life’s growing process.

If you are waiting for the results of a test you’ve taken and you keep telling yourself, “Everything is going very well, the results will be good, and so on…” such preliminary expectations and attitudes will not change the outcome and can only bring disappointment. Positive thinking in this instance is when you say, “Whatever happens, I can handle. Whatever happens, it will be for good. There’s always a way. I always have a choice.”

Positive thinking is not creating illusions that the world is wonderful and that there are only good things, it is not idealizing things and attribution of human qualities that are non-existent. It is not the creation of artificial illusionary world and denial of reality, it is not calling black white and vice versa.

Positive thinking is not an escape of reality, it is not isolation from reality and not a lack of realistic outlook, it is not denial.

On the contrary — positive thinking is acceptance. It is to see the world, situations, and people as such as they are, to accept and take responsibility of your feelings, attitudes, actions. Because nothing is really good or bad, your thinking valuation, determines what makes it look a certain way. Good and bad are not attributes of things, but creations of the mind, from your beliefs that were formed from your experiences and environment.

This is where freedom lies within you — your attitude towards a given situation. Only you can decide how to relate to what is happening to you and how to accept it. You always have a choice.

The choices you have:

For instance, if you have lost a loved one:

  • You can burry yourself in grief and not allow any joy and happiness in your life.
  • And you can choose to enjoy the wonderful moments spent with the person you’ve lost and be grateful for everything you’ve experienced together and have learned from each other (this I owe to my Dad; he gently clenched my hand and told me to keep moving ahead; miss you so much Dad, but I know you haven’t left my side for a moment).

If you lost your job or money:

  • You can take it as a failure, as something fatal and become depressed, you can feel helpless and feel sorry for yourself.
  • And you can take it as an opportunity to start something new, to build more confidence in yourself by assessing the situation differently.

If you are devastated by a disease:

  • You can complain and blame life and to isolate yourself from everyone.
  • And you can accept the disease as a signal that you need to make a change and that this disease becomes your springboard from which you can jump off higher. The disease can become a teacher for you to make you appreciate what you have in your life and treasure every little thing you haven’t noticed in the past.

Everything you perceive at the end can be seen as a beginning, an opportunity in life to receive something new.

Every “bad” that comes your way may be for your greatest good.

You just have to change your focus and realize that every situation is completely different when seen from another angle.

It is easy to be positive when everything around you is as you wish, when the sun is shining and the birds are singing. But the real positive thinking occurs when “problems” occurs.

Anyone can say that he/she is positive and to smile when his/her life are calm, when they are healthy, loved, and wealthy and one has everything he/she wants.

But a truly positive person is one who says YES even when “problems” occur and is able to look at them in another way when he/she sees opportunity in every situation.

Positive thinking is when you love life in all its fullness and variety — and with good and bad sides and to accept success and failure, joy and sadness, love and disappointment all as your friends.

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I would also love to hear what you think about positive thinking and how it has changed your life. Your feedback inspires me to keep researching, exploring, experimenting, testing, and refining ideas, growing, writing and speaking. All of us grow faster when we collaborate and support each other. I encourage people to contribute value to the world, so we can make compounding ripples of improvement for everyone.

About The Author

Dr. Kachovska is an internationally known Change Catalyst. She teaches individuals and organizations about awareness, connection and the need for change — personally, socially, and professionally.

You can connect with her on Thrive Global, Medium, Twitter and LinkedIn