By Tinky Ningombam
A while back, I got a rather inopportune call from one of my relatives. Unlucky for him, I was not in the best of moods and hence I sounded more grim and serious than ever. To which, his obvious comment implied that I have changed from a happy and positive person to a serious one and advised me that I must not take so much pressure in life. Harmless as it was, his words led the pragmatist in me to pose the likely question: if stressing to find solutions to problems is not a positive aspect, then what is?
Let us set our context straight. One of the biggest lie in the history of modern psychology is making people believe that positive thinking eliminates all your worries and makes you more successful. This western concept has been interpreted in a lot of absurd ways such as having happy thoughts all the time makes one a happy person. Thinking about only the positives in life makes you into a positive person. Acknowledging the most positive aspects of another person makes you think of them positively. You must have heard of all of them before, these are not my imaginary constructs. These are teachings and corporate lectures, all based on the `Be Positive` cult that has spread so much hogwash.
What positive thinking does is to make us believe that if we have the positive thoughts, something good is bound to happen always, as if it`™s inevitable. The universe conspires to it. Magically, all good things will attached themselves to me if my conviction towards good thoughts are strong.
Humans being narcissistic and self-obsessed do tend to believe that they are God`™s gift, we demand nothing but the best for ourselves. `I have never done anything wrong to people, I have always had good thoughts, I have always been positive to people, why is nothing good happening to me?`
We constantly undermine that in a person`™s life, there will be ups and downs. Because we focus so much on the highs that we ignore the lows and have a hard time accepting it. We cannot acknowledge it and hence we do not tackle it. We want to take life in an upward curve, the perpetual high, riding the pinnacle of success. Hence our flawed definition of success is constructed by man-made achievements that there is no place for the `chance occurring`. Fate or Fortune is something that we have discarded as vague concepts. We have forgotten to accept destiny or chance to govern our likely outcome. Hence when we see and hear of people with positive thoughts succeeding in life, we believe that all our human endeavours will be translated its weight in gold. While Goddess Fortuna (goddess of Fortune) spinning her Rota Fortunae, the wheel of Fortune might have bigger plans.
Rather be a pragmatist. Think of multiple outcomes if at all you need to think. Plan A: something good happens. Plan B: something bad happens. And then there`™s Plan C: the chance occurring.
Thoughts and outcomes are very subjective. First of all, we cannot force down an emotion/thought/fantasy on someone. You cannot smile all the time and force yourself to think you are happy. It has to come in naturally. You have to naturally positive in order to feel positive. If there is a `negative` threat, you have to deal with it head on and not ignore it, hiding behind your positive reinforcements. What it does is to blur your reality.
If I didn`™t study for my exams, all the good thoughts in the world cannot make me pass it. It is wrong to tell people to be overly optimistic without putting in the hard-work required for it. And this is exactly what the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology research on positive thinking proved. It said: `Positive fantasies that idealize the future are found to be inversely related to achievement over time: the more positively the fantasies are experienced, the less effort do people invest in realizing these fantasies, and the lower is their success in achieving them.` The more people fantasise of success or positive outcomes, the less effort they put into the job. When you constantly tell your kid that you see a very bright future for them and that being a member of your famed family, he/she is going to be as successful or bright or a genius, without teaching them how to get there, then that is a false reinforcement. When he/she grows up, if fortune does not favour, they will most likely land up in more depression. The correct way is to tell them that to cope with the harsh realities of life as they would the good parts, learn to handle the pressure of failure and that of success and to worry less of the future and live in the Present.
(`The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.` `“ Gautama Buddha)