Thinking Makes It So

fortune cookieI have been experimenting recently with the “power of positive thinking.”  I know, I know.  Like many of you, until just recently, I thought it was all just so much new age hooey.  But there is really something to it.  Hear me out.

It all started when a friend on Facebook challenged me to engage in the “3 positive things” Facebook challenge.  I usually abhor such “challenges,” contemporary equivalents of the chain letter that the vast majority of them seem to be.  The terms of the challenge were these:  every day for a week, I was required to post three positive things from that day to my status on Facebook.  I resisted at first, but it kept coming back to me.  Eventually I decided to give it a try.  The results were surprising.

First of all, for the first couple of days, it was hard to come up with three things.  Which is a sad commentary on where my life/mindset was at that point, but there you have it.  That part was eye-opening in its own right.

But then, my outlook changed.  I started to see the world in a different way.  Everything became something beautiful, something to be grateful for: nice weather, pretty flowers, a kind word, a smile, a hug, a nice dream, a good result at work.  Up to that point, I had only been seeing the negative, and I didn’t even know it.

And doing it on Facebook had its own rewards.  I got a lot of positive feedback.  When you’re happy/positive, people are drawn to you, and good karma/vibes/thoughts/dreams/things come along with that.

But the overall results were greater than the sum of their parts.  I felt better.  I was happier.  More in control.  Not only did my outlook change, but the world felt like it changed too.  I didn’t just have a better attitude, the world was a better, warmer, calmer, more pleasant, happier place.  It was weird.  But I liked it.

I did the full week on Facebook, and it was amazing.  After the week, I was sure all my Facebook friends were just about fed up with my glass-half-full, perpetual Pollyanna outlook, so I stopped.  Some of this could be coincidence, or circumstances, but my life over the next couple weeks took a plummeting nosedive.  Which sucked.  But life is still life, after all.  Which is to say, bad things still happen, and things that objectively suck still suck.  But there is something to be said for attitude.  You can’t change the world or everything that happens in it.  But you can change your attitude.  You can be positive.  Things are never so bad that you can’t smile, offer a kind word, do something for someone else.  If we all did a little bit more of that and a little less whining/complaining, the world would be a better place.

Briefly, to get out of my funk, I tried the Facebook thing again.  It helped a little.  But I did not get back to that same week-long zen of the original exercise.  And that’s okay.  I have now taken to keeping track of my three things privately, as it allows me to be more candid and reflective.  Is it a perfect solution?  No.  Do I have a great attitude all day every day?  Yeah right!  Do sucky things still suck?  For sure.  But I feel a little bit better, and like I have a little bit more to give others.  And that’s what a lot of life seems to be about.

If you haven’t done the challenge yourselves, and/or you feel like you could use a little bit of positivity, I would issue the “3 things” challenge to you, to be done in public or in private.  If you don’t feel like doing it, or it seems silly/stupid, then you feel exactly how I felt before I jumped in.  Go for it anyway.  The results may surprise you.  You’ll be glad you did.  I sure am.

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