The process of thinking is what differentiates man from animals. It is a wonderful faculty provided by God to human beings. The only thing that makes us a higher animal is the ability to think. And it is the quality of thinking which distinguishes one person from another. Our best friends and our worst enemies are our thoughts. Thoughts make the whole dignity of man. Every action begins with a thought. It may be the starting of a business, construction of a building or killing someone. As are the thoughts, so are the actions. In this write-up we shall briefly discuss the quality aspect of thoughts and their impact on life.
An elderly friend of mine gave me a book many years back. It was titled 'The Power of Positive Thinking' written by Norman Vincent Peale. I went through it and found it inspiring. Then after a year or so, another friend gave me a book by the same author titled 'The Amazing Results of Positive Thinking'. This book contained a large number of real life cases in which positive thinking had done wonders in the lives of people. Subsequently, I came across the whole series of books on positive thinking by the same author and went through them. The present article is mainly the result of this reading coupled with my own personal experiences in life.
In one of these books I read a case which goes like this: A lady ran a restaurant in San Francisco. It was a beautiful place, full of colour and life. Then her eyesight began to fail. Soon she was blind, living in darkness. One day the telephone rang and she groped her way to answer it and received the shocking news that her husband had just been killed in an accident; blindness and now her husband suddenly dead. She sat by the telephone, utterly crushed, wondering what she was going to do. She was dejected for weeks, living in helplessness. But in this most complete darkness, emotionally and physically, she perceived finally, by the help of her strong faith, that there was something positive to which she could attach herself. She did not choose to dwell on the negative, she sought the positive and she found it in a most remarkable way. Putting sincere faith and strong positive thinking against her sad conditions, she determined that she would conquer her grief, loneliness and handicap.
And in due course she not only succeeded but succeeded greatly. She wrote three successful cook books and a book of inspiration. She operated a frozen food business with her two sons and went to the office every day. That is what positive thinking is. It is tough mindedness. It is the refusal to be defeated. It is making the most of what you have to deal within life. It is to look at the positive side of your life and dwell on it. It is to look at the filled part of a half empty glass. We all have positive points in life even in the most gloomy conditions and if the mind can be turned to these, the positive thinking will start by itself. So if you feel that you are defeated and have lost confidence in your ability to win, sit down, take a piece of paper and make a list, not of the factors that are against you, but of those that are for you. If you think constantly of the forces that seem to be against you, you will build them up into a power far beyond that which is justified. They will resume a formidable strength which they do not possess. But if, on the contrary, you mentally visualise and affirm and reaffirm your assets and keep your thoughts on them emphasising them to the fullest extent, you will rise out of any difficulty regardless of what it may be. Your inner powers will re-assert themselves and, with the help of God, lift you from defeat to victory.
Feeling of confidence depends upon the type of thoughts that habitually occupy your mind. Consider defeat and you are bound to feel defeated. But practise thinking of confident thoughts, make it a dominating habit, and you will develop such a strong sense of capacity that regardless of what difficulties arise you will be able to overcome them. A feeling of confidence actually induces increased strength.
Well, most of us raise the point that all this is easily said than done. True, the blows of life, the accumulation of difficulties, the multiplication of problems tend to sap your energy and leave you spent and discouraged. In such a condition, the true status of your power is often obscured, and you yield to a feeling of discouragement that is not justified by the facts. It is vitally essential to reappraise your personality assets. When done in an attitude of reasonableness, this evaluation will convince you that you are less defeated than you think you are.
The secret is to fill your mind with thoughts of faith, confidence and security. This will force out or expel all thoughts of doubt, all lack of confidence. The situation has to be faced as it exists now. There is no point in regretting the past. Never do it. However the mistakes of the past, if any, are to be converted into opportunities for the future. And this is what you call ‘Positive Thinking’. There is always a way to handle your difficulty or problem. A summarised ten steps approach is given below:
i) Thank God you have difficulties. It is a sign of life.
ii) Learn to stand back from your troubles and calmly survey them.
iii) Use your full mind power to analyse your difficulties. Then systematically chip away at it, bit by bit.
iv) Think positively about your difficulty. Believe that you can overcome it. This way you will be on the way to victory.
v) Learn the spiritual-practical method for handling a difficulty.
vi) Work persistently and eventually you will be victorious.
vii) Grow to such heights that you can look down upon your problems.
viii) Calmly take life as it comes. Deal with your difficulties with a controlled mind.
ix) Never build a case against yourself, i.e., never think of failure.
x) Make use of the power of the Almighty. Troubles will defeat you without God, but with His help you can handle any difficulty.
Another problem which one faces in positive thinking is how to sustain positive thoughts. Positive thoughts can be induced in everyone momentarily but that does not help, if they are not sustained. Positive thinking requires training and study and long perseverance. You have to be willing to work at it, sometimes for long. It is like food. It must be taken daily and in healthy doses to keep the body going. You must remember that there is much more power in your personality that has ever been used up. Release it through the process of regular positive thinking. Life is uncertain and it will always remain so (it has an ‘if’ at the centre of the word). Take it in its stride and live a full life.
Does positive thinking always work? Of course it does; positive thinking will work if you are willing to work at it. It is not an easy discipline. It takes hard work and strong belief. It takes honest living, and a keen desire to succeed. And you will need to keep working at it constantly to achieve success. Just when you believe you have mastered it, you will have to develop it again.
Success is available to all of us if we follow the basic principles of positive thinking. Start now to precondition your mind to success.