Positive Thinking – The vehicle for life’s journey

Our life’s journey is a continuous sequence of hopes. If we are not hopeful of getting up tomorrow, we will not prepare for tomorrow’s breakfast also. For a brighter tomorrow, everyone should think positively. It is good to start with the idea of a purpose in life. If we believe there is a purpose in life, we will take responsibility for it.

One can see life as a glass half-full or half-empty. The one who sees the glass as half-full is an optimist and the one who sees it as half-empty, is a pessimist. Pessimists push themselves into a life of fear, anxiety, despair, ill health, and so on. These people don’t understand that thoughts are not facts. They suffer more because of negative thinking, from imaginary fears which are much worse than the real consequences of any problem. Abraham Lincoln once said that “Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” The following story illustrates this idea.

In a village lived a farmer, who had two rabbits. One day he dug holes and hid two carrots in his field and asked the rabbits to go and get them. The first rabbit dug a couple of holes and couldn’t find it. It said “How many more holes do I have to dig? The field is so big and I’m tired! I guess it is not worth the effort”. Saying this, the rabbit sat down. The second rabbit ran around digging holes and with each empty hole, it told itself- “One less hole to dig which means I’m closer to finding the carrot!” Finally, it got both the carrots. The outlook of a positive thinker is – I shall succeed only if I think I can. It’s all in the mind.

Positive thinking people see disappointments or failures as temporary, while it is not so in negative thinking people. Even when negative thinkers succeed, they do not give adequate credit to themselves. And they never enjoy their success. They never learn. However, when things fail, it is much worse for negative thinkers. They take blame on themselves even for things that they are not responsible for and also situations which are not in their control.

Positive thinking people are generally self-motivated, discuss lot of ideas with family and friends, think of good times. They look at failures as challenging opportunities and learn from them. They understand the importance of their role in doing things. Generally, they are very busy and do not get distracted because they are focused. With each success, they become more positive.

According to research findings, positive thinking people have longer life spans, low stress levels, extremely low chances of depression. They have better health, they exercise, meditate, relax and get ready for new challenges. They think failure is an opportunity to move forward in life.

Positive thinking people believe in the saying – ‘we are what we think’ (yed bhaavam, tad bhavati). In our Indian homes, it is customary that as we leave home, we tell everyone in the family- ‘I will go and come back’. Nobody is supposed to say I am going. This is to ensure a safe and happy return. This is symbolic of positive thinking. Parents advise children to seek the blessings of God and elders before leaving home. This would make us feel confident and positive through the day. On the other hand, if somebody leaves home after quarrelling, arguing, shouting, and screaming, all the good things may be lost and the whole day may be spoiled. This may severely affect human relations at workplace/school and bring down both quality and efficiency of work. Ultimately positive things are lost and negativity dominates.

Once a professor entered a classroom and announced that he would be conducting a surprise test. All the students were shocked but had no choice. The professor handed over the question paper to all. Everyone was surprised to see a blank paper with just three small black dots on it. The professor then asked them to write what they saw on the paper. Everyone wrote that there were three small black dots on the paper. The professor saw the answer scripts and said “Our life is like this paper. We just look at the black dots but forget to see that the entire paper is white”. This is like our losing all the beautiful things around us even with only a few negative thoughts.

Everything we see around, like the chair, the table, the beautiful garden, are initially created in the mind. A positive thought pursued with self-confidence and undistracted efforts is the gateway to success. An example of this is evident in this success story of a boy who was rated useless.

There was a boy who struggled in studies right from kindergarten to class twelve. During the parent-teacher meetings, his parents always had to hear that their son can never graduate in life. Later in life, he not just graduated from a top university but went on to become one the most successful entrepreneurs in his region. After several years, one of his classmates met him and asked him how he became so successful although he struggled so much through his school. He answered “Positive thinking. I always told myself that they were wrong. I told myself everyday exactly what I wanted to hear from others. This made my life move forward successfully.”

One of the takeaways from this story is not to get distracted by what others say about ourselves but listen to the self. After all, no one knows us as much as we know ourselves.

-Dr H S Nagaraj

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