The more I learn and the more I see, the more convinced I become that positive thinking is the key to success. I don’t just mean career success, either – I also mean success in life, love, health, happiness and everything else.
I haven’t always been good at focusing on the positive. Though I tend to be a pretty happy person by nature, I’ve failed at many things (relationships, for one) and experienced periods of negativity. It took many years and a lot of maturity, but I’ve finally started to understand what people mean by the phrase “happiness is a choice.”
As an example, let’s talk about relationships. I have no regrets about any choices I’ve made, but I do think that part of what went wrong in previous relationships had to do with focusing on negative thoughts. When we believe something is wrong, we see it everywhere. We complain. We reinforce that negative thought every time we complain. And while we do this, our partners (or friends or family members) feel this negativity and respond with frustration and anger. It’s a vicious cycle that has everything to do with a lack of gratitude and positivity.
“Never say anything about yourself that you do not want to come true.” – Brian Tracy
Another example – one that I’m currently struggling with in my own life – is negativity in terms of career success. I’ve only been at this freelancing thing for a couple of weeks, but I had a few setbacks last week. A personal essay I submitted to a lifestyle publication was rejected. A client I’d reached out to had become unresponsive. And after taking a difficult writing test and interviewing for a gig I wanted, I was passed over for another candidate.
By Friday night, I was a little down. I began to question myself and my ability to freelance successfully for a sustainable income. I had two choices: either respond with negativity, or respond with positivity. I chose the latter.
If I’d responded to these perceived setbacks in a negative way, my behavior would’ve followed suit. I probably would’ve either been less energetic this week in my endeavors, or would’ve started applying for 9-to-5s right away. But, by thinking about the situation in a positive light – by truly believing that I’m already a successful freelance writer in the making – I put myself on a path of positive behaviors. This week, I refocused. I decided to use any downtime to work on personal essays and “fun” writing projects. I doubled down on my applications. I put renewed effort into my social media accounts. And I set a goal to visualize my success every morning during my meditation sessions (more on that later).
Every day in our lives is like a choose-your-own-adventure novel. We can either choose to respond with negativity (often accompanied by lots of complaining that reinforces the bad stuff around us) or we can be positive.
Now, a little something for my New-Agey friends: The power of visualization and manifestation. If you’ve never heard of “The Law of Attraction” here’s a brief overview, straight from Wikipedia:
“… by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life. This belief is based upon the idea that people and their thoughts are both made from ‘pure energy,’ and the belief that like energy attracts like energy.”
In a nutshell, what you truly believe will manifest in your life. If you believe your relationship is conflict-ridden and unstable, it will continue to be conflict-ridden and unstable. If you believe your relationship is beautiful and fulfilling, you will notice beautiful and fulfilling patterns in your interactions with your partner. If you believe you’re attracting wealth, you will attract wealth. If you believe you’re destined to be poor, you will remain poor. What you believe, you receive. And so on.
This philosophy isn’t completely relegated to New Age thought, either. Do these quotes sound familiar?
“The thought manifests as the word; The word manifests as the deed; The deed develops into habit; And habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care, And let it spring from love, Born out of compassion for all human beings. As the shadow follows the body, As we think, so we become.” – Buddha, as cited by Das, 1997
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” – Mark 11:24
Now, I’m a pretty logical person, and I don’t necessarily buy into the idea that we emit a particular kind of physical energy that draws things toward us. But I do believe that our thoughts shape our actions. Whether you want to look at it from a spiritual perspective or a completely practical one, the fact remains true that thinking positively allows us to succeed.
So, this week, I’ve been adding a visualization element to my meditation sessions. I bring myself into a relaxed and focused state of mind, and then I envision my success. I remind myself that I’m already successful. I visualize what my day will look like when I have a reliable client base and a successful internet presence. I try to really feel the hustle and bustle of what those days will entail. And I envision myself making a reliable income and being able to travel wherever I please, working wherever I can find WiFi.
“You get there by realizing you are already there.” – Eckhart Tolle
And like I said, so far, doing this has caused me to be more productive, which I daresay gets me that much closer to my end goal. Thoughts beget actions, and actions beget success. And now here I am, having successfully managed to publish on my blog once a week for an entire month – an ability in which I never used to have confidence. I’ve literally changed my behavior. Rock on, visualization.