“A positive mental attitude is the starting point of all riches, whether they be riches of a material nature or intangible riches.” – Napoleon Hill
Okay, so there’s no myth that I am a positive person, or at least striving to be one. However, I am aware that I’m not positive all the time. I am continuously working to become conscientious of my choices, thoughts and reactions. I frequently get asked about positive thinking, and I wanted to first clear up some points of confusion.
Positive people are not living like Pollyanna in some dream world with no hold on reality. Positive people may have an attitude like Pollyanna, but they are not necessarily unrealistic. Positive people are very capable of understanding the reality of a cynic. They just change their mindset to see the reality from a different perspective.
With so many myths about positive mental attitude (PMA), it’s important to separate the truth from the fiction. Let’s explore some of these myths and dive into the truths behind them.
Myth #1: Negative thinking is more realistic.
Have you ever heard a negative person say that they aren’t negative; they’re just being ‘realistic’? This myth keeps people locked in a negative reality of their own creation.
A person’s thoughts, whether positive or negative, do have an effect on their environment. If you think negatively, your mind will automatically seek out confirmation that the world is a terrible place. Seeing is believing, and your mind reinforces your belief that reality is negative. See how it’s a downward spiral of negativity? If you expect negative results, you are less likely to take risks and try new things. Negative thinking masks your impressions in fear.
Positive thinking works the same way. With a positive mental attitude, you’ll seek out positive choices and expect positive results. This helps you move past fear and try things that others may believe “can’t be done”. This typically ends in positive results.
A person’s thinking helps determine their reality. Negative thinking is realistic for the negative thinker, but only because their thoughts make it true. Ironically, the positive thinking also sees reality, just in a different light. Both types of people see their own reality, and both consider it the reality
Myth #2: People with a PMA expect moneybags to fall out of the sky if they wish for them.
Those who don’t believe in positive thinking imagine that positive thinkers expect that their desire will manifest itself if they simply think positively about it. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Everyone who accomplishes anything – whether it’s earning a million dollars or becoming an award-winning actor – accomplishes it the same way: by taking action. Positive people have an edge because they believe the object of their desire is attainable. They come from a ‘can-do’ mindset. Their actions are not based on fear or scarcity, but based on possibilities. Thus, a positive attitude helps a person manifest their desires, not simply by dreaming about it, but by inspiring the person to take action.
“It’s the action behind the attraction that makes the dream come true.”
Myth #3: Positive thinking doesn’t change reality
People who believe this myth see a problem and believe that positive thinking will only ignore the ugliness of their reality. The truth is positive thinking doesn’t ignore the problem; it helps you see the problem in a new light. In fact, you don’t even see ‘problems’ as problems. Think about it; regardless of how you react to an external situation, the situation will still be the same. If being upset doesn’t change the outcome of a past situation, wouldn’t it serve you, and your health, to see the positives?
A positive mental attitude creates a mindset of abundance, enthusiasm, and solutions. Instead of thinking about what can’t be done, a positive thinker will not be constrained by ‘can’ and ‘cannot.’ A positive thinker is free to think of new ways to solve problems because they are not limited by fear of failure. When we are in a state of abundance, we provide a fertile ground for possibilities and making dreams a reality. We are in a state of allowance, openly accepting the gifts of life to flow to us. When I realized this principle and shifted my thinking habits, miracles started popping up in my life.
A positive mental attitude can – and indeed does – change reality by allowing a person to act in an entirely different way, thus harvesting entirely different results.
“Successful men become successful only because they acquire the habit of thinking in terms of success.” – Napoleon Hill
Myth #4: Positive thinkers have no clue about the real world.
It’s easy to believe that people with a positive mental attitude have perfect lives and never dealt with real world hardships. Maybe people wouldn’t be so positive if they’d endured a few difficult times in their lives. But the truth is that this is really just a justification for negative thinking.
I don’t know a positive person who hasn’t had real and serious trials in their lives. They’ve faced disappointment, death of loved ones, physical handicap, and pretty much the range of human experiences we all deal with. The difference is that these people didn’t let those experiences change their outlook. A positive mental attitude means that you are in control of your own thoughts and feelings.
“Responsibilities = our abilities to control our responses.” – paraphrasing Steven Covey
Every person has sorrows and trials that test them to the core, but only some people have the courage to act positively and with grace. A positive mental attitude doesn’t mean a person has sidestepped a hard life. It simply means they choose to see and take part in the good things life has to offer, as opposed to only the negative.
In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl an extraordinary Holocaust survivor talks about finding happiness and purpose while in a Nazi concentration camp. In his book, he argues that “we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.”
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space.
In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and freedom.” – Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Myth #5: People with a PMA are annoying and cheesy.
Okay, let’s admit it, some types of positive people are a little cheesy. We’re talking about the kind who spout platitudes and expect everything to be perfect no matter what. But truly positive people aren’t Tony Robbins infomercials. Positive people have real thoughts and have setbacks and discouragement just like everyone else, but they are also resilient and look for ways to stay positive. And that’s not cheesy, it’s just healthy thinking! And smart living!
Truly positive people do not expect perfection, but rather, they expect that every event is the best thing that could have happened in that moment. It is the only event that happened in that moment. Now that you’re considering the event, that moment has past. You cannot go back and change the moment, so you have to accept what happened was the best, and move on to the next moment.
Even in external circumstances that seem out of our control, we can always control is our internal response. In fact, it’s the only thing we have absolute control over.
For more of my thoughts on a positive mental attitude, please visit my blog. You may also be interested in these related articles: