We have all heard about the most popular notion of the century “Positive Thinking”, “Think Positive” and blah blah. We apparently think we know all about positive thinking, but there’s so much confusion regarding this concept. It’s about time we draw a line between realistic positive thinking, which very few people tend to grasp, and fake positive thinking, which is actually not a very sweet deal to get yourself into.
So, before I go and tell you what actually ‘positive thinking’ is all about, let me first tell you what it isn’t.
Fake Positive Thinking
Positive thinking doesn’t mean that things should happen according to your own whims, notions, or thinking. You may keep dreaming about some ‘goals’ all day long and expect that it will come true just because you are thinking all positive about it, well sorry to break it to you, this is not the real ‘positive thinking’.
Many people are of the opinion that if they just stick to thinking ‘positive’ about their future, neglecting the negativities, then great things are bound to happen; nuh-uh, this comes under the radar of fake positive thinking too. Some people also misinterpret and miscalculate the law of attraction too, owing to the same thinking.
In a nutshell, just stuffing your mind with ‘positive’, ‘positive’, and ‘positive’ all day long about a particular situation or person and completely abandoning the ‘facts & figures’, isn’t anywhere close to being actually POSITIVE.
These are basically examples of wishful thinking which is both unrealistic and naive. Your wish can be a hope or a need, but it has got nothing to do with ‘realistic positive thinking’. Indulging in the ‘fake positive thinking’ is a rather dangerous trap, which you should avoid at any cost because here you want things that are not true to be true, and snub the things that actually are.
A Real-Life Example
We have all heard the news about students committing suicide just because he wasn’t able to score what he thought he could. Can you see the fatal flaw of wishful thinking? This is one extreme example. But think about those thousands of students who go into depression, lose confidence, and think they are losers just because they fell short on marks.
What they do is that they set a goal of scoring a certain % in so and so class, and based on that %, they carve out their entire future plan, only to later find out that they couldn’t score what they thought they could. They can’t handle the pressure because they were so confident of achieving what they thought.
That’s one major flaw of ‘wishful thinking’. When people get so attached to their dreams, by thinking positively about them all the time, they have no idea what to do in case they fail. You can see these types of examples in almost every arena of life.
People completely subside and snub the reality and just keep on chanting ‘positive, positive & positive’ all the time, and then ultimately get heartbroken and depressed because their dreams didn’t come true. This is insanity and nuts, which needs to stop. Just because everyone preaches about positive thinking, doesn’t mean you don’t understand the actual essence of it.
Realistic Positive Thinking
Life is a lot similar to that of Cricket in a pretty uncanny way. It’s like you are on the strike, batting, and the ‘Life’ is the bowler here, except, there are no wickets, or any other players in the field; just you and Life.
Life keeps on bowling but only as long as you choose to be on the strike. Most people think that they are out, the minute they miss a shot, but that’s not the right thinking, because like I told you, in this game of life there is actually no way of sending you back to the pavilion, until you yourself quit.
As long as you are breathing, you can never be OUT, period. Doesn’t matter if you miss a few shots, the bowler here is pretty stubborn, it keeps on bowling until you lay down. It doesn’t make sense for anyone to quit just because they missed a few shots, the opportunities are gonna keep on coming.
That’s the real deal here. Understanding this concept and living by this philosophy is the essence of realistic positive thinking. Life is not limited to what your thinking is. You must have noticed things happening to you which you never thought would happen in your wildest dreams, and that’s because Life is way beyond what anyone can think.
If you miss the ball, then you gotta understand that it was just a missed opportunity, nothing more, nothing less. And the best part is that the opportunities are gonna keep on coming, as long as you are on the strike, and the even better part is that only you can decide for how long you wanna stay on the field.
The longer one stays on the field, the more chances he has to hit a six. Life will throw at you with balls aka opportunities like exams, school, college, jobs, health, career, and whatnot; so, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a shot. All you have to do is keep your eye fixed on the next one in order to make up for the missed balls.
These balls are opportunities, some are big opportunities, and some are not so big opportunities. What you may think of as a big opportunity may actually be a small one and vice versa. So, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you miss a few shots, you just gotta be focused on what’s coming next instead of whining and complaining about what you missed.
That to me is real positive thinking.
The Game isn’t Over Yet
It may look like to the world that you are failing when you are missing those shots, but as long as you are on the pitch, you have understood the bigger and more important thing about life. You have understood that failing in one particular event isn’t tantamount to failure in life. Life is much bigger than just one event or situation.
Doesn’t matter if you miss one, two, three, four, or even five balls in a row. You can very well hit a six on the next ball, making it up for the missed balls. That’s the real deal, to stay on the pitch, with the same level of enthusiasm and focus as when you started the game.
But hey, the game isn’t over yet. Just because you hit a six, doesn’t mean you can sit back and chill out forever now. Remember, life hasn’t stopped bowling yet. So, get back up. You gotta keep playing, irrespective of whether you are hitting sixes after sixes, or missing every shot, just keep on playing.
Stop focusing on the outcome, success and failures are gonna keep on coming and going—pay your attention to the bowler aka Life, that’s the most important thing. Life is a game, and playing this game with all your exuberance, zing, and zest is more crucial than patting yourself on the back when you win and beating yourself up when you lose.
The one who is on the pitch, grinding it out is successful; and the one who is down and out, and has left the ground is a failure. This is the game you wanna master, the game of life. And this is the true essence of realistic positive thinking which is based upon taking fearless action.
Positive thinking isn’t about thinking and expecting to hit a six at every ball, it’s about leaving no stones unturned in preparing yourself to hit a six and accepting whatever outcome you get. If you hit a six, good; if you don’t, even better—you got room for improvement.
The JOB Dilemma
Let me explain the same analogy taking the example of ‘job’. Here too, there can be two extreme behaviors. One is pure, hardcore ‘negative thinking’.
You go for an interview, but you are already damn sure that you are not gonna get selected no matter what. If you have thoughts like, “I am unlucky”, “I am bad fortune”, “I am not talented enough”, then, needless to say, you are already doomed.
Now the other extreme is that of unrealistic and fake positive thinking or wishful thinking. Getting motivated and thinking all positive and dreaming about getting the job all day long, isn’t gonna get you that job too. There are a hundred people more, who are ready to kill to get the very same job. So why should you be given the job and not the others? Oh, because you were thinking positively, right!
Well, it doesn’t work that way. Wishful thinking like this is eating people alive and making them hollow from the inside. If you keep on reverberating that “You are gonna get the job, you are gonna get the job” in your mind all the time then ya, surely it will make your confidence go skyrocket for some time.
But just like under-confidence is bad, overconfidence is equally destructive. The minute you become overconfident, and start counting the chickens before they hatch, a dream world will start forming in your mind.
You will already start thinking about all the ways you are gonna spend the money, you will automatically begin planning about the grand party you are gonna give once you get the job, and things which have got nothing to do with your job interview will start filling up your mind.
All this literally happens within seconds. The minute you shift your focus from ‘work’ to ‘result’, a whole castle of expectations will appear out of nowhere. And this whole castle thing also, simultaneously, starts becoming the breeding ground of ‘fear’. The more your expectations grow, the more fearful you become in case your ‘dream world’ shatters. And this fear takes away your focus from the real thing.
The interviewer who’s gonna take your interview doesn’t give two shits about your problems or fears in life. All he cares about is how you can be an asset to the company. He isn’t gonna give you a job solely based on your confidence or your attitude. There are a ton of factors including skills, experience, knowledge, and confidence is just one of them. TO put it in a nutshell, getting or not getting a job is out of your control.
But Wait, There’s More
The faster we grasp this, the better it is for us. Now, we can actually find out a solution. Until now, we were thinking about something that was out of our control, which was making us live in a dream world that again is out of our hands.
The best way to secure the job is to forget about yourself, your problems, your fears, your desires, your expectations, and start thinking and treating the company as your own baby. The practical way of practicing “Realistic Positive Thinking”!
Now you are actually doing something that can distinguish you from the other participants. The others are thinking about getting a job, but you on the other hand are concerned about improving the company’s current situation and figuring out how your strengths can be the perfect fit for the company.
Most of the other applicants when they go for the interview, would either be scared to death about getting the job or would be overconfident about getting it because of wishful thinking.
You on the other hand will be sitting calmly, without any fear of failure or greed for success, and would think that “I researched about this company to the best of my abilities and have put it 100% of my endeavors for this job and gonna give it my best shot when they call me.” Now, if you get the job it will be great both for you and the company, and in case you don’t, even then you won’t be discouraged because you know you gave in your 100%. That’s real positive thinking.
When your foundation is strong, then you don’t need to convey what you can and cannot do for the company, it will all be visible in your eyes. Once you get the job, you are not gonna sit back and relax as most people do. Remember that life is still bowling. Now you gotta strive to do the job like no one ever did before.
If you have the chutzpah to follow what I am saying, then no company would wanna leave you, and even if they did, you will be positive and confident enough to get another job. And this confidence won’t be something mystical or unrealistic, it is gonna be the real confidence as it is based on your knowledge and experience about the work you are so passionate and excited about.
You see, realistic positive thinking is all about analyzing and totaling the present scenario as it is and being honest to yourself. When you know it in your heart that you did the work—that you gave in your 100%—that you gave in every ounce of blood, sweat, and tear your body could uphold, then the positive thinking is merely a cherry on the top. No amount of positive or wishful thinking can compensate for the work it takes.
Now let me give you another real-life situation.
No matter what you do, or where you are, at some point in your life, you are gonna get into one. So what does realistic positive thinking in relationships mean?
People misunderstand positive thinking here, which is not a new thing. They think that since their relationship is going pretty well for the past year, so now they expect that they are gonna get married and have children and will live a peaceful life forever. Well, that’s what everyone thinks initially.
The real positive thinking in relationships comprises bearing realistic expectations. If you expect a fish to suddenly start flying then you are bound to destroy your relationship one day or the other.
Everyone has some strengths and weaknesses. So, as long as your expectations are associated with his strengths, then your chances of getting disappointed are next to nill. As simple as that. There isn’t a single person on this planet who can say that she fulfilled every expectation of her own self. So, how can one possibly expect someone else to fulfill all your expectations? Food for thought.
People are of the opinion that since their relationship has been perfect so far, their future is also gonna be bright because they are gonna think positively about their future. This is, again, pretty dangerous thinking.
Realistic positive thinking isn’t expecting that you won’t face any problems in the future, because you are surely gonna face a ton of them, instead, it involves focusing on the solution together instead of the problem, figuring a way out instead of fighting, supporting each other instead of demoralizing. It is about the belief that “come what may, we will always be there for each other.”
If I have to sum it all up then I would say that even after understanding everything I said so far, even after staying on the pitch continuously hitting sixes, there’s gonna come a time when LIFE will throw a bouncer at you which is gonna smash you right in your face, and you are gonna be covered in blood.
At that particular moment, you are gonna have two choices. One is to blame Life for bowling so ruthlessly and getting angry, frustrated, and ultimately quitting, or to stand back up again and face the next ball with the same energy and enthusiasm.
That is what’s gonna be your deciding moment, whether you are successful or not. And that’s what positive thinking is all about, to not expect the best things to happen, but to be prepared for things you didn’t even imagine could happen to you in your wildest of dreams.
Life is really fragile. Right now you are breathing, the next moment you may not. So, bring in all your energies from the past and the future, and live this moment like it’s your last.
Realistic Positive Thinking is accepting this fact wholeheartedly that, “Whatever happens, happens for the best.”