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Can You Always Think Positive?

by in Depression, Kitchen Sink, Stress, Zen Thinking June 27, 2008

zenthinking.jpgBy Dr. Nicole Sundene

Can You Always Think Positive?

I am certainly trying.

I was raised on a thick Scandinavian-German dose of Murphy’s Law, and am described to have a “Death Valley DRY sense of humor sprinkled heavily with cynicism”.

Maybe I get my old man sense of humor from my Grandpa, or maybe it is just because I have been working in The American Sickcare System for the past nine years.

Sometimes it is really tough to stay positive.

Recently I read an article at one of my favorite positivity sites Ya-ttitude titled “The 4-Step Plan to Success” instructing me to:

“Keep your mind tightly closed to all negative influence.

Those negative influences can come from places you least expect;

friends, family and acquaintances.”

Sounds simple enough! So I decided to try it.

Positive thinking is crucial to any successful stress management program.

I am actively working hard to learn new ways to be more positive by following the advice from author’s such as Benny Greennberg from Ya-ttitude, Life Coach, Tim Brownson from A Daring Adventure, and my other favorite reads at Principles for Peace, ZenHabits, and Zenplease.

I work hard to read and test out their stress management tips so I can better share the simplest ways to live stress free.

In my opinion, closing yourself off to ALL negative thinking is the foundation to being positive and less stressed. Benny Greenwood’s Four Step Plan has it exactly right.

Being positive also means learning to just go with the flow.

For instance, the other day the cat puked all over my pile of clean laundry. Instead of getting upset, I decided to quickly see the positive in things and tossed the nasty mess straight in to the washing machine.

“Ha! Now I don’t have to fold and iron that whole mess today!” I thought, applying my goal to always strictly see everything as positive, as I washed my hands clean of the nasty mess.

Now if someone cynical like me can be more positive while cleaning up cat puke, then anyone can!

Try it.

Try only seeing the positive in every situation for an entire month. See how that month then goes for you.

  • Were you more productive?
  • More happy?
  • More pleasant to be around?
  • Did you make new friends?
  • Do more people like you now?

I know this is not about being more popular, it is about being more positive to reduce useless stress. Being more popular is just a fringe benefit to being more positive.

Do you know someone that could benefit from being more popular er…positive?

Who in your life could benefit from this stress management tip?

  • That demanding perfectionistic boss?
  • Irritating co-worker?
  • Always agitated friend?
  • Meddling mother in law?
  • Cranky husband?
  • Ungrateful child? (Mom please don’t send this to me…I promise I’m trying!)

E-mail them this article, or print it out and allow it to mysteriously “appear” on their desk, or somewhere they might be forced to find it.

The options are endless when it comes to how “positivity” and positive thinking can help us. I notice the immediate result for me with positive thinking, is that my attitude about life is just better.

I am instantly happier.

When I see the positive in a tough situation that once had me upset, I am learning from life. Maybe the lesson was hard. But learning the lesson and moving forward is one of life’s biggest positives. How else are we to grow?

Growth is positive.

Post note: During the final editing of this little uplifting article on positivity, I realized that I never remembered to TURN THE WASHING MACHINE ON! So the cat puke mess sat in there for three delicious hot summer days!

Oh my…well if someone can please help me see the positive in that, I would be most grateful. *shudder*

Ugh…“I am too blessed to be stressed”.

I will be busy reciting the positive person mantra until further notice.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen table!

~Dr. Nicole

Naturopathic Physician

www.KitchenTableMedicine.com

17 Comments
  1. Great article, and very timely for me. I also appreciate the links to other positive-thinking websites. Thank you!

  2. I’ve read the power of positive thinking, and I follow it. I completly agree with you. One of the hardest things to do is to stop hanging around perpetually negative friends. After a small bit of inner turmoil, I am much happier having shed the negative influences. Positive attitudes attract positive people and life experiences. Thank you for this important post.

  3. Hi Atlas- Thanks for your positive feedback, good luck with the positive thinking…it is like exercise…it gets easier the more “conditioned” you are. I am a classic case example and am trying to share what I have learned from the sites listed above. They are great interactive blogs to follow, the writers are role models and so are many of the readers.

    Hi Dr. Rob- I think it is tough to avoid negative friends, so I am working to not let them affect me and suck me in to their negative vortex. It is sure tough though. You are absolutely right, the more positive you become the more positive people you will attract. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

  4. Brilliant reframe of the cat puking! That’s gets you a gold star 😉

    I think the answer to the post question is no, it’s virtually impossible imho. I have read Buddhist masters that admit they occasionally have negative thoughts, so if they can’t do it, I’m not sure anybody can. It’s a nice thing to aim for as long as you go easy on yourself if you don’t hit gold every time.

    I’d advise a joint approach of shutting out negative thoughts as well as you can and also agreeing with yourself that when they do break through (and they will) you let them go without judgment on either yourself or the thought. That way you can relax a bit without feeling like your guard has to be up all the time which can be exhausting.

    To reframe forgetting to turn on the washer. Wow, that’s a tough one and I don’t know the specific circumstances but could any of these work?

    I can now add some more washing and save water/detergent?
    At least I don’t have a pile of ironing to do now, I can get other stuff done?
    Cat puke doesn’t smell as bad as I thought, after 3 days I never even noticed it?
    I get to see whether car puke stains, so next time I know if I’m busy I can just throw it in the washer and not worry about it for a month or two.
    I now have chance to throw the cat in too?

  5. Wonderful article and great link backs to other great authors! Can one always stay positive? My answer is absolutely not. HOWEVER, we can certainly try to and when we feel ourselves start to lose our positive thoughts, we have to do a shift and pull ourselves back to thinking positively. Especially when going through a difficult situation, once we start with the “stinking thinking” we have to immediately change the negative thoughts to positive thoughts. That’s how it works. No human on this planet can be positive 100% of the time. But we do have the power to turn it around and the more you practice, the more quickly you can do it!

    Dr. KC
    http://www.DOCintheBiz.com
    http://www.GLCzone.com

  6. Hi Tim- still laughing at your reframing suggestions. You are one funny life coach. I agree you can’t be positive every minute of the day and it is nice to know that the zen masters can’t do it either. Sometimes it is fun to indulge in a little negativity…

  7. Hi Doc KC! Shifting the thinking away from stinking thinking is VERY important when cleaning up stinky messes. Many of life’s messes are stinky and I think it is normal to immediately react negatively, but using tools such as what you practice and teach can easily shift us out of that limiting mindset. Thanks for your comment! 😀

  8. Now I can’t get that song “Always Look on the bright side of life”nout of my head.

    But as far as the cat puke, many bright sides to it. You own a cat, that means you aren’t allergic. I can’t have one because the Mrs. is allergic.

    You own a working washing machine. Your Germanic ancestors would have been washing cat puke out on the banks of the Rhine.

    Lastly (I like listing things in 3’s. I wonder what that means) it sounds as if the cat is now better. It wasn’t something serious so the cat can puke another day.

  9. Joe- now that is way too funny! I am so grateful to even have a washing machine now. You are exactly right. I knew one of my smart friends would be able to point out the bright side!

  10. Another spot on post. Looking forward to trying some of those great tips. I dig this blog! And it’s eerie, because just yesterday, before I read this post, I created a video called, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” for my vid site, livelife365.com. Great minds think alike, huh?

    peace,

    Mike

  11. Funny, inspiring article on positive thinking and stress management.

  12. Positive thinking has changed my life. I went through a lot of
    therapy during my divorce and now nothing seems to bother me!!
    As a marathon and ultra marathon runner,I used some of the techniques

    already so it wasn’t that much of a stretch. I used what I call reverse
    psychology on my body. Running 50 miles is quite a challenge
    so when my body feels tired or sore, I smile. Usually,you feel good
    then you smile. Your body doesn’t know the difference so when
    you can put on a big smile,you instantly feel better. I’ve also done
    a lot of volunteer work and seeing first hand ho`w much worse things
    can be is a great help to feeling positive about your life.
    🙂

  13. Great article! Yes, it really is a matter of thinking positive, although the words that are spoken, all to often, starkly contrast ones thoughts and feelings!

    Hey, look at the positive side of your last comment; now you can throw out the clothes that sat in the washer for 3 days and buy a new wardrobe!!

  14. Great post Dr. Nicole! Sorry I didn’t find this one before now. Thanks for the link love.

    Vcoach, I was thinking the same thing – Dr. Nicole gets to buy some new clothes now.

    Really a lot of it involves seeing things in perspective. On a scale of 1-10, in the whole scheme of things how important is this really? So often, we blow things out of proportion. (Guess I’m hung up on scales of 1-10 lately.)

    We can certainly try to be positive all the time, but we are all human and make mistakes. I found myself getting very frustrated on Saturday about something.

    I learned and teach the HALT formuala. That means don’t get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. If you are violating any one or all of these it’s certainly hard to be positive and look on the bright side of things. First take care of yourself and take some time later to find the good in the situation when you are feeling better. (I now figured out a way to turn my frustration on Saturday into something good.)

  15. Hi Nicole!

    I will try more to think positive..
    I know that is ( one of )the key to get out of my depression.
    But is so difficult..
    I’m so deep in the s………

    Anyway , beautiful words and thoughts…
    All the best for you.

  16. hi,
    yes, i have a problem about positive thinking. i am working on it though. nice post…this might help me….thanks

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