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The Fatal Flaw of Positive Thinking and How to Fix It

Updated on January 30, 2019
Daniel Carter profile image

Daniel is an award-winning composer/author/publisher and public speaker. He speaks about life's difficulties in an inspiring way.

The Revolution of Your Own Thinking

The power of positive thinking can revolutionize one’s life for the better, but there is a fatal flaw in thinking that it means eliminating everything that’s negative in our lives. Do you know why? Because eliminating everything that’s negative is impossible. We don’t live in a world where it’s all one way or the other. It’s a mix of both and it always will be. One is not without the other. Like the contrast between light and dark, or joy and sorrow, we have contrast that allows us to comprehend both. Even positive and negative electrons coexist and work together in a beneficial way. By having contrast, we have unlimited options to choose and create what we want. Without contrast, our options are profoundly limited.

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In today’s world, there is a popular idea to “cut off toxic people” for the sake of “being positive.” This option is valid because there are probably people in our lives that don’t have our best interests in mind, and we probably shouldn’t associate with them. But is it possible that some people are trying to tell us the truth? They may appear to be difficult or negative, but what if they are trying to help us rather than keep us from what we really want? In other words, looking past their negative tone may hold a positive way forward. To find the value in what they say will require us to let go of our anger, disappointment, and hurt. If there is value in what they say it becomes a positive experience.

The pursuit of a positive life can be sabotaged by instant gratification. In fact, it seems many believe that instant gratification isn’t instant enough. For example, it’s easy to compare our lives to celebrities’ and wonder why their lives seem to be picture-perfect, and ours seem to suck. Aside from the fact that they are only showing you the pretty parts of their lives to impress you, they probably have some pretty sucky days and months that they don’t reveal. (Perhaps in part because they value a certain level of privacy.) Many of us admire and want to be like our favorite celebrities. It's easy to get caught up in whatever the latest trend of “success” might be, hoping to emulate them to achieve a similar life. And those who write and speak about success, including celebrities, usually use the same keywords over and over. Words like “dedication,” “determination,” “set goals,” and “don’t allow negativity”. We get inspired long enough to decide to grit our teeth and push our way to what we want. We believe we must cut off “toxic” people, or we fall for instant money-making schemes, or a shady lure to gain millions of followers overnight, or try an unhealthy binge diet, or overdose on workouts at the gym our first month until we are sick and tired and want to quit. Just reading that last sentence is filled with tension. Constant tension is not a positive thing, it’s destructive. No wonder it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that positive thinking doesn’t work—because thinking positively all the time and having only positive results are impossible.

Your Life is Like a Graph of the Stock Market

If you were to make a graph of your progress through life, it certainly wouldn’t be linear with a steady, straight line, angled upward. It would be as complex as looking at a graph of the stock market from the past several decades. You’d see small blips up and down, some enormous dives and some huge vertical leaps. But overall, you’d see at each ascending point, a line moving upward.

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You Are Designed to Be Well

Even healing from illness is not completely linear. There are setbacks, good days, and bad ones, but we usually progress to wellness again. That’s because our natural state is wellness. This means that our bodies always work to be well, despite setbacks. (Isn’t that an amazingly positive thought about illness?)

Look at it this way: any negative experience that you don’t want might actually be a gift which helps point you toward something that you do want. If you can find something valuable about a negative experience, you win. You discover that no matter how bad, no matter how negative the experience is, there may be a lesson of value in it that could give you knowledge and power to ultimately achieve or become what you want. This is one of the secrets to living a life without regrets.

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To summarize, there are two critical parts to make positive thinking effective.
1) Avoid the flawed assumption that positive thinking means to eliminate everything negative. Trying to do so is impossible in a world where positive and negative experiences always exist.
2) Positive thinking—and this is your superpower—is the result of allowing and accepting both positive and negative experiences, learning and adapting, giving you the opportunity and power to create a happy, positive life.

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To Read More about My Journey

If you'd like to read more about the experiences that helped form my present perspective from a more positive view, you can read my blog.

© 2019 Daniel Carter

Comments

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    • Daniel Carter profile imageAUTHOR

      Daniel Carter 

      5 months ago from Salt Lake City, Utah

      Audrey, thank you for stopping by to read. I'm glad the article was insightful to you!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      5 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Well, I've learned that there can actually be flaws in positive thinking. This is neat! I didn't realize this, but it makes perfect sense. I also liked reading about how negative experiences can lead us to a beneficial action on down the line. So much meat in this article.

      Thank you for this enlightening hub.

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