In 1952, Norman Vincent Peale published a book entitled The Power of Positive Thinking.
To date, it has sold more than five million copies.
Despite its popularity, there have been critics.
By and large, they have suggested that positive thinking is an oversimplified solution to the complex problems that life throws at you; that you can’t simply “look on the bright side of life,” and everything will be hunky-dory.
And you know this to be true as well.
In some things, laughing at yourself or your circumstances does put things into perspective.
In other things, however, we are unable to see anything bright about them at all.
The clinically depressed, for example, feel that they are trapped in a hole, and that no matter which way they turn or what they do, their situation will only get worse.
While reframing – that is, interpreting your circumstances differently – can help even those whose depression is debilitating, you still have to deal with your situation, whatever it is.
And while thinking positively may make it easier to endure them, it won’t make them go away.
So why have I suggested to you that you should think positively?
It’s not because I think that by doing so, you’ll never have another care in the world.
It’s because you are surrounded by people who live their lives in a negative frame of mind.
Not only that, but the marketing industry is working hard to make you think the same way.
Fundamentally, all advertising is designed to make you feel that you lack something.
Its intent is to make you feel that your life is unsatisfactory in some way, and that you can improve it by buying whatever product happens to be on offer at the time.
For example, if you take medication, then you might experience side effects.
A small percentage of those, for whom it’s been prescribed, do.
The ad that tells you to “ask your doctor” about taking Y; not X is designed to raise doubts in your mind about its efficacy. Of course, by the time you listen to all the side effects that you might experience by switching, you may decide that the meds you’re on aren’t so bad after all.
Or maybe you’ve had your car for a few years.
The paint has begun to oxidize, and so it’s not quite as shiny. It’s lost its new car smell, and your neighbor just bought a new one.
By comparison, yours looks in a sorry state.
On your way to work, you pass by a dealership that has a big sign near the road: “Sale Now On!”
How does it make you feel?
Probably dissatisfied to one degree or another with the car you’re in.
The grass always seems to be greener on the other side of the road.
What does positive thinking do, or what can it do?
It can help to minimize the feelings of discontent that you have.
When discontentedness dominates your attitude, then you see everything in a negative light.
As you’re telling yourself that you deserve better, the marketing industry assures you that you’re right to think like that.
And the truth is that it isn’t.
Marketers are lying to you; but, because of your frame of mind, you’re falling for the lie.
And like a sheep, you just follow everyone else to the cash register.
The way to protect yourself from that is to think positively.
Look for the good in your situation.
If you’re taking one medicine, for example, unless you’re experiencing side effects that make life more difficult, be content with them.
Don’t waste your time and that of the doctor’s by asking about medicine you probably don’t need.
Doctors are sent free samples all the time. It’s not as if he or she is unaware of what’s available.
If you’re discontented with your car, then you might think about how economical it is compared to the ones that are on sale, or that it’s paid for.
Maybe you’ve never thought about it like this, but once you’re inside, you can’t really see the outside all that well.
You can see the color and some of the styling; but when you’re inside, you can’t at the same time see how “cool” it looks from the outside.
Once you sit behind the wheel, you’re just driving something that will take you from A to B.
This has been a long message; longer than I had intended.
Some topics are like that, and there’s so much more that could be said about this one.
The hack for today is to ask yourself where you are discontented.
Introspection isn’t easy for some people; but if you don’t do it, then you’ll never get to the bottom of the recurrent problems you face.
You see, your actions begin with your thoughts.
When you’re discontented, you’re telling yourself that you deserve more.
And the truth is that you don’t.
None of us deserves anything.
We have to earn it.
It’s much easier to figure out how to earn what you want when you think positively than when you brood and murmur about how bad things are.
Train yourself to look for what’s good in your life.
Let the rest of the world do all the negative thinking.