The Only Thing More Powerful Than Positive Thinking
I will preface this entire article with one observation: Everyone is f*cked up in their thoughts.
Now that we’ve gotten that fact out of the way, we can move forward into what we miss during moments of self-reflection and awareness. Many of us know that very little good (if any) comes from negative thought. In fact, simply thinking negative thoughts can inhibit the development of serotonin, sabotaging opportunities to experience joy and pleasure simply because it has become familiar with the defeatist mindset.
So how do we avoid thinking negatively? Taking this moment to reference the above statement, I will answer by saying, we don’t because we can’t. It is nearly impossible to filter our thoughts to only allow those of positive nature to make their way in. This may seem like a dead-end, but I can assure you, it isn’t.
In a study led by Christine Porath of Georgetown, she suggested that thoughts spoken aloud hold far more impact than those left unsaid. She then went on to discover that while positive thoughts spoken aloud carry 10x more power than those left as thoughts, she was even more surprised to find that negativity acts a multiplier in this scenario — 4 to 7 times to be exact. Meaning, that when we choose to speak negative thoughts aloud, we are increasing the probability of an outcome different from what we want by nearly 40–70%!
Here are a few examples:
Pistol Pete Maravich was a well-known basketball player who communicated in an early interview at the age of 26 that he doesn’t want to “play for 10 years, retire, and then die of a heart attack at 40.” Maravich then went on to play for three NBA teams, with his final being located in Pasadena, California. Despite his impressive resume of professional sports and his hard work on the court, Maravich ended up dying suddenly at age 40 during a pick-up game in 1988 as a consequence of a previously undetected heart defect.
In the magazine Success Unlimited 1973, a story was shared of a gentleman hired to fix a refrigerated boxcar. After entering the car, he realized he had become locked in. Frantic for a mode of exit, he searched for a door, a lever, or an emergency escape to free himself. After realizing he was short on options, he found a pen and began documenting what he believed to be his final moments. Writing on the wall statements like, “I’m getting colder” and “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.” His final statement reading: “These might be my last words.” Hours later, people came to check on him and found his body, dead in the freezer. The irony in the story — the freezing apparatus had been broken and the temperature read a mild 56 degrees Fahrenheit. The freezer was without a lack of oxygen and ultimately, the man had every chance of survival, but his externalization of negative thought ultimately sealed his fate.
During the time of Prisoner of War (POW) camps, particularly surrounding the Korean War, there have been countless incidences where propagandas distributed to the soldiers led them into despair. The decision to withhold mail from loved ones and perpetuate false information surrounding devastating events occurring in the states manifested a distorted perception of reality and many died of broken hearts. Telling those individuals that their loved ones were in the midst of violent chaos, while simultaneously preventing them from receiving validation otherwise, encouraged negative thoughts and ultimately verbiage.
We are constantly ‘observing and reporting’ on the events our own lives on a regular basis.
“My marriage is failing.”
“I didn’t play well in that game.”
“I failed that test.”
“I can’t get a grip on my weight.”
“I keep letting my friends down.”
Variations of these thoughts exist in our minds constantly. The caveat to allowing these thoughts to live and breathe is to maintain their presence internally and work through them by way of action externally. Our greatest downfall occurs the moment we give them life on the outside.
Unless you are the epitome of narcissism, you are aware that you have things to work on and areas to improve within your life — things that go without saying (so why say them at all?)
It isn’t what you are willing to do, but what you are willing not to do.
The habit to adopt at the end of all of this is not positive thinking, but the refusal to externalize negative thoughts as they occur. To encourage all of you to fill your minds with only positivity would be ignorant and unfair, not to mention something I am equally as incapable of doing. What we do have control over is the amount of power we give to those negative thoughts as they arise.
If You Want To Improve Your Life, You Only Have To Change One Thing
By changing your beliefs, you can drastically change your life.
The biggest favor we can do for ourselves is to perpetuate positive thought, acknowledge the negative as it arises, and negate the temptation to speak aloud the cynical. Eventually, you will notice that the events of your life cater to the words you choose to speak aloud and that the flawed thoughts that occur in the human mind hold little impact until they are put into the world by way of voice.
Think both positively and negatively, but be strategic about the ones you choose to share.