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Positive Thinking

What is positive thinking?

Positive thinking is thinking in a way that focuses on your ability rather than disability. It is includes seeing the positive aspects of any situation or person. Basically it is looking at the brighter side of things.

What I can benefit from thinking positively?

  • You will generally be a happier person
  • You will be well-liked and respected
  • You will tend to attract more friends
  • You will build better social relationships
  • You will be able to manage stress well, by turning negative situations into opportunities for learning
  • You tend to look at the positive sides of people and this reduces any bad feeling between you and them

Am I not thinking positively already?

May be you are already thinking positively. However, at times we do have irrational thoughts that lead us to make mistakes in thinking.
These irrational thoughts and mistakes in thinking are the main cause of negative thinking, which, in turn lead to negative emotions such as stress, jealousy, disgust, fear and anger. To make things worse, these can lead to negative behavior such as having quarrels.

What are irrational thoughts and mistakes in thinking?

Irrational thoughts and mistakes in thinking are thoughts that are baseless and lead to feelings of negativity and disability. Thinking this way does not help in the long run. Nevertheless, they are very common.

These include:

  • All-or-nothing thinking
    • Black and white reasoning
    • E.g.” Either I’m accepted into the best class, or I’m a totally useless person
    • Correction: Re-evaluate at your goals; you may be setting unrealistic standards. Take things step by step. Celebrate any progress or achievement no matter how small they are
  • Over-generalizing
    • One negative event or aspect of a person is generalized to all events or the whole person
    • E.g. “She is always late and never early!”
    • Correction: Be accurate in attributing a person’s character – “She is late most of the time, or at least when I see her”
  • Mislabeling people and events
    • Labeling a person or event as negative without looking at possibilities of them being the way they are
    • E.g. Calling a friend “crybaby” just because he is crying, and not seeing that he has lost his grandmother
    • Correction: People do things for many reason, we cannot simply assume that they are against you or are weak or negative in anyway
  • Rejecting positive events or aspects
    • Filtering positive aspects and only looking at negative features
    • E.g. Ignoring a win in a game when losing in a set of three games
    • Correction: If you keep focusing on negative things, of course your life will be filled with negative feelings. Accept positives and your life will not be as bad
  • Emotional reasoning
    • Everything has to be seen in a negative light just because you are feeling lousy
    • E.g. “How could there be any good thing in this world if I’m feeling this lousy?”
    • Correction: “I’m feeling lousy, but others things are still OK.”
  • Jumping to conclusions
    • You make comments based purely on emotions and guesswork instead of definite facts
    • E.g. “I know he’s doing this just to get back at me”
    • Correction: “I don’t know why he is doing this I but don’t like what he is doing”
  • Dramaizing a problem
    • You make a simple problem seem like it’s the end of the world
    • E.g. “I can’t stand it! I can’t go out this way! Why must my nail get chipped off all days?”
    • Correction: Acknowledge that you do not like what happened and work on coping with it
  • Self-criticism
    • You harshly criticize yourself and making no room for mistakes
    • E.g. “What a silly mistake! What a fool I am! How could I be such a careless idiot?”
    • Correction: It’s okay to feel bad when you make a mistake. It isn’t the end of everything. There are still things you can do about it

Why would I think negatively and have mistakes in thinking?

In some, thinking negatively helps to make a person feel enough stress to do something positive about a flaw or a mistake. However, the way people think can be modeled by others. Mistakes in thinking happen in all of us. They function to motivate you in your daily life. However, in the long run, this negativity can corrupt and destroy your personality. It is better to acknowledge the mistake, learn from it, and more on.

How do I think positively?

Thinking positively involves looking for positive features of the things that you come across in your daily activities.

Whenever you catch yourself having a negative or irrational thought, challenge it with some thoughts that are positive and reframe it into a positive statement. If you are aware that you have made a mistake in thinking, you can try to correct it.

Some methods include:

  • Listing down things that you like about yourself, and thing that you do well in
  • Look for positive features in everyone you meet (chances are, there are a few)
  • Look for evidence that someone is completely bad (chances are, there is none)
  • Accept anything positive as a good thing rather than a minor thing
  • Celebrate every tiny progress as a step forward
  • See things as they are, and beware of making negative judgments
  • Reassure yourself with motivational sayings that help you
  • Mistake are opportunities for learning
  • Focus on what you are able to do rather than what you are not able to do

When can I practice thinking positively?

Anytime and anywhere, especially when you are feeling negative.

What can I do to maintain positive thinking?

  • Set realistic goals
  • Hang around friends who are positive-minded
  • Regularly practice relaxation skills
  • Practice using humor in daily life – laughing helps
  • Be in touch with spiritual development

Who can I go to for help?

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Teachers
  • Counselors
  • Psychologists
  • Spiritual teachers

Related links

Last Reviewed : 31 May 2008
Writer : Prof Madya Dr. Alvin Ng Lai Oon
Reviewer : Pn. Shahidah Bt Mohamed Makki