I like to think of this post as positive thinking for people who don't believe in the magical powers of positive thinking. The universe doesn’t magically send things you wish for to you. Here are 3 reasons why you should be positive and optimistic anyway.
There is no “Law” of Attraction. It is not a physical or natural law. It is more like a wish: a wish that if you just wish hard enough, the universe will provide for you. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but there is no physical mechanism by which the universe can grant your wishes. You can’t bring more positive things to you by being more positive. Your energy doesn’t “flow” into the universe. And you can’t bring negativity upon yourself just by thinking negative thoughts.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be positive and optimistic or that you shouldn’t make an effort to control your negative thoughts. There are some really good rational and pragmatic reasons why being optimistic and positive can help you.
- Feeling optimistic, even if irrationally so, feels way better than feeling negative. Depression is a real brain state and it can really negatively impact an individual’s ability to function. For this reason, happier thoughts are preferred as they help us feel motivated to tackle life’s problems. And that’s a good thing. The problem is that unrestrained optimism is just as bad as unrestrained pessimism, which is why the manic phase of bi-polar disorder isn’t something to celebrate. The goal is to be realistically optimistic and realistically happy as a result.
- Being optimistic helps us to think about the future is a positive way. This is important because we can’t work towards a goal we don’t have. Goals are important. They give us meaning and purpose in our lives, and that helps us feel connected and motivated. There is nothing magical about this. It’s an essential element of planning for a better future. One of the hallmarks of a Humanist mindset is that we refuse to accept the status quo when the status quo sucks. So think about how things might be better and then start working towards it.
- Positive thinking is motivated thinking. In order to tackle the challenges of life, you have to have some belief that you will succeed. Otherwise there is no point in trying. The fact that we may not succeed shouldn’t stop us from dreaming and thinking about how we can improve. Humanism is a philosophy of human agency, which is the belief that humans can actively work to create change in our world. And that because we can create change, we have a responsibility to try. Again, we acknowledge that we might be wrong and that we might not succeed, but we are committed to trying anyway. Why? Because what if we are wrong and we can succeed? The only way to know is to try so we refuse to give in to pessimism, even if that pessimism is realistic. We feel that there is value in striving.
How do you maintain your optimism despite life’s challenges? How do you keep your optimism and skepticism in balance?