Positive Thinking is A Learned Skill

In the training world, there is constant discussion about what constitutes a learnable, trainable skill and what falls into the realm of motivation or determination. For instance, I can train a sales manager with the knowledge and the skills that can make he or she  better at coaching sales representatives. However, I cannot train a sales manager to be motivated to use those skills.

Lately, I’ve given a good deal of thought into whether positive thinking is a learnable, trainable skill or whether it relies completely on the motivation of the individual. It’s fair to call any ability that can be enhanced with practice or additonal knowledge a learnable skill.

By this definition, positive thinking meets the criteria. There are teachable techniques that can help people see the world or themselves in a more positive light.  A couple that I have employed successfully over the years are thought stopping and tick-marking.

Thought stopping involves mentally or verbally saying, “stop” when a negative or unwanted thought comes to mind. Sometimes the process requires you to say, “stop” mutlitple times to discontinue the negative thinking. This process is most effective when you can replace the negative thought or visualization with one that is positive or healthy. This technique is effective for people battling depression, obsessive thoughts, or addiction. However, anyone can use it in their daily lives. The fact that you are not dealing with a serious mental condition makes it that much more effective.

Tick-marking is another way to stop negative thoughts and embark on a positive thinking program. When we are afflicted with negative thinking we often don’t realize how many times during the day we are thinking negative thoughts to ourselves (negative self-talk). For some, there is a constant stream of negative thoughts, self judgements, and critiques of everyone and everything around them. Because we are what we think about all day long, unchecked these thoughts spill out into their lives – their view of the world, their self-esteem, and their interactions with others.

Tick-marking is a technique where you have a little note pad with you all day long. Everytime you think a negative thought you make a tick mark on the note pad. Some people find it effective to categorize the negative thoughts. This is an awareness tool. Once they become aware of how many negative thoughts go through their minds in a day, many people become motivated to do something about it. Until there is awareness there cannot be action.

So, I come down on the side of those who believe positive thinking is a learned skill. That said, it is very much a commitment too. Developing a positive outlook on life has many of the same characteristics as a diet or an exercise program.

  • Motivated to change – until you see negative or demotivated thinking as a problem in your life, you are not going to commit to change. You must commit yourself to chaning the way you think and react to things.
  • Stay on the program – if you begin an exercise program, you will reap the benefits of it only as long as you continue exercising. If you stop, your muscles will atrophy and your fitness level will drop to previous levels. Replacing negative thinking with a positive outlook works in much the same way. It requires an ongoing commitment and you will see the benefits only for as long as you work at it. If you don’t provide constant positive fuel and apply techniques that work for you, the negative thoughts can return. Face it, we live in society where there is a lot of negativity and fear perpetuated for a number of reasons. If you don’t take charge of your own thinking, it is easy to fall into the societal malaise.
  • Keep the end in mind – when someone goes on a diet they are going to be successful as long as they continue to visualize their life at the goal weight. What happens along the way, often, is the demons of the present take control and steer the person off course. The dieter falls back into old habits and the diet fails. A positive thinking program has the same pitfall. Especially when you are using positive thinking to improve a certain area of your life, it is critical to keep the end result in mind. Your old negative thought patterns are going to rise up and try to get you off course. In fact, the closer you get to your goal, the more intense they may become. The only way through this gauntlet is to keep moving step by step in your new, positive direction.
  • Believe – you have to believe that change is possible. You have to believe that by using affirmations or other positive thinking approaches you can change your life and your mind. Without the belief, the commitment to reach your goal is not going to be there.
  • Accept incremental success – change of any kind in life is a process not an event. Know that you are going to have negative thoughts and doubts. Know that a certain amount of it is just incurable human nature. Commit yourself to keep moving forward and replace those negative thoughts with something positive.
  • Claim your victory – reward your successes along the way and the big win that is your destination. Through hard work and a commitment to see the you and the world that are possible, you can change your outlook from negative to positive.

Once you know how all that is left is to do it!

Follow your bliss. Experience your bliss. Become your bliss.

Ray Davis is the founder of The Affirmation Spot. He’s spent more than 25 years studying personal development and especially writing, recording, and using affirmations to achieve his goals. His eBook – The Power to Be You – offers 416 life-changing and original quotes, ideas, and affirmations to take you to new levels of achievement and reflection.

anunnaki_cover_full_colorAnunnaki Awakening: Revelation, Ray’s first novel,  is turning heads and opening minds. Humanity’s past is checkered, secret, and dangerous.

White House Correspondent Maria Love is on to the story of her life and with the help of an Anunnaki leader seeks to unravel and reveal history’s biggest conspiracy. The Awakening has begun!

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Random Thoughts #4 – The Affirmation Spot for Saturday June 28, 2008

 

A wise man knows when to stop following the rules and start following his heart. One who lives only by rules will never know his heart.

 

Stay inspired!

Ray

Random Thoughts #3 – Engine of Dreams – The Affirmation Spot for Tuesday June 24, 2008

 

Remember that you are the engine of your success. Your dreams will never give up on you. Don’t ever give up on them.

Miracles I – The Affirmation Spot for Sunday June 22, 2008



ray_launchpad.jpgYour Fifth MP3 Affirmation is Always Free at The Affirmation Spot

Whenever you download four affirmations at The Affirmation Spot your fifth affirmation is free. Simply type five in the coupon field at checkout to get your fifth affirmation free. (Offer valid only on a per order basis. Multiple single downloads do not receive this discount.)


Today’s affirmation is:

“I am in touch with nature. Every day I feel my feet touch the earth. I feel the wind fill my lungs. I feel the water bring life to every cell of my being. I feel the warm sunshine on my face. I am in touch with nature.”
(5 times)

“You are in touch with nature. Every day you feel your feet touch the earth. You feel the wind fill your lungs. You feel the water bring life to every cell of your being. You feel the warm sunshine on your face. You are in touch with nature.”
(5 times)

Hear an audio mp3 version of this affirmation right now.


There are so many amazing creatures that share this planet with us. I think we can safely count them as among the many miracles we experience in our world. They enrich our lives with their beauty and often leave us in awe.

Today spend a few moments with one of them. The blue whale is the largest animal ever to live on Earth.

This is from the BBC show Deep Blue. These animals are simply amazing. Enjoy!

Run time 2:09

 

Look the miracles in your life today.

Stay inspired!

Ray

Interview with Maia Berens – The Affirmation Spot for Friday June 20, 2008



ray_launchpad.jpgYour Fifth Affirmation is Always Free at The Affirmation Spot

Whenever you download four affirmations at The Affirmation Spot your fifth affirmation is free. Simply type five in the coupon field at checkout to get your fifth affirmation free. (Offer valid only on a per order basis. Multiple single downloads do not receive this discount.)


Today’s affirmation is:

“Right this moment I am attracting the perfect mate into my life.”
(5 times)

“Right this moment you are attracting the perfect mate into your life.”
(5 times)

Hear an audio mp3 version of this affirmation right now.



 

Today we are honored to have a The Affirmation Spot exclusive interview with Maia Berens.

 

 Maia Berens is a California-based life coach specializing in relationships. She has successfully coached countless clients by telephone over more than 10 years. She helps people to improve their lives and develop long-term successful relationships.

 

 Maia credits her own successful 23-year relationship and her 18 years collaboration with world-renowned relationship expert John Gray (Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus) for giving her the foundation to help others with their relationships.

 

 Maia says about herself, “I have a natural ability to help people see what’s good about what’s going on in their lives.” Her goal for her clients is simple – help them create the confidence within that leads to the ability to have a successful relationship.

  

The Affirmation Spot: Maia, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you. Can you begin my telling us a little about your background and what inspired you to become a relationship coach?

Maia Berens: That’s a pretty funny one to start with for me. I am just becoming very clear on my own personal path that I am really not a relationship coach, but rather someone who coaches clients to get ready for relationships by helping them re-discover/uncover their authentic selves. So what inspired me to become that – lets call it Real Self Coach? (It) was my natural bent to teach and coach and the miraculous changes that I’ve been blessed to have occur in my life using all the tools and attitude changes I teach/coach.

 

The Affirmation Spot: There seem to be three sides to your current work – coach, writer and blogger, and business person. How do you balance those three aspects of your life and keep your own relationships in balance and vibrant?

 Maia Berens: I know my priorities. They are self-care, work, family and friends in no particular order except self-care is the basis for it all. My husband and my family are definitely priorities, but I put them before me and my needs only if there is an emergency. I guess it boils down to knowing who and what’s important in the moment.

 

The Affirmation Spot: You worked with John Gray author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus for many years. What was it like to work with John and how did that collaboration influence what you are doing now?

Maia Berens: John is a very creative and brilliant guy. It was inspiring and a great learning experience working closely with him. His influences are vast in my life and that of my husband and my kids. He taught us and took us through many healing experiences in his workshops in the early ’80’s. He taught us tools to heal the past and have functional relationships. I got an opportunity to create workshops based on his material and coach 500 professional therapists and speakers to help them get out of their own way to create success in their workshop businesses. My husband and I actually met in a workshop conducted by John and Barbara De Angelis and John participated in marrying us 22 years ago. One of my daughters got to work in our Mars Venus Institute for 3 years and got to get experience being paid as a writer and she is now a screenwriter.

 

The Affirmation Spot: Are relationships more complicated today than they were 50 or 100 years ago? If so, what is driving that complexity and how do people handle deal with the complexity and succeed in their relationships?

Maia Berens: Relationships of the past were more based on financial need and functional need years ago, I believe. Today we expect partnership; we have super busy lives complicated with technology, traffic, everyone working, etc. And we are evolving to become more authentic (although probably not less complicated) humans. Your question about how do people deal – not so well in a lot of cases. We are still suffering from a lot of old ideas and (this) isn’t helped by our media. But the news is good. More and more people like you and I are having an impact and people are willing to learn.

 

The Affirmation Spot: You mention the role of the media in propagating some old ideas. What are some the biggest misconceptions that you see repeated or reinforced in the media?

Maia Berens: It’s probably mostly the happily ever after stories in the movies that never show real work and real resolution, more than anything.

 

The Affirmation Spot: What role, in your view, do our relationships play in our spiritual development?

Maia Berens: Relationships can be a “Way”. They can be a way to lay bare the ego and learn how to heal the past and in doing so lead one to become more and more authentic – who we really are – spirit having a human experience.

 

The Affirmation Spot: How would you describe your coaching philosophy?

Maia Berens: I believe that all the answers are in each of us. Our coaching collaboration allows me to hear where you may not be looking and (helps me) point out to you where you are not seeing yourself as fabulous as you really are. I reflect back to you and keep you on course in the direction you’ve told me you want to go. Unlike many coaches, I also act as a mentor in many areas. I gently tell you what I see and you may reject it or use it.

 

The Affirmation Spot: How does a person or a couple recognize the need for a coach? How does what you differ from traditional counseling?

Maia Berens: If you want support to get somewhere in your life and you aren’t getting there yourself, a coach is a great choice. If you feel you want to delve into the whys and wherefores of your past, probably a therapist is for you. Also a therapist is probably a good idea if you keep having highly abusive relationships.

 

The Affirmation Spot: What qualities and credentials should people be looking for in choosing a coach?

Maia Berens: You know you have a match if you feel like this person (the coach) gets you and has your agenda first. I suggest having sample sessions or conversations with as many coaches as it takes until you find that fit. Trust your gut and don’t be sold.

 

The Affirmation Spot: What are some of the biggest pitfalls you see people in long-term relationships falling into? What words of advice would you offer to people in “stale” relationships?

Maia Berens: (The) biggest pitfall is not saying what is going on for real and in good time – even if it’s to say I feel the relationship is stale and I’m not feeling loving. Hard truths are the most challenging to speak, but they are the only way to get back to love. I also think people don’t really know how to have really deep relationships. By that (I mean), I don’t think they know that it takes work and clearing of old emotional stuff and old beliefs formed in childhood in order to have a relationship that can works now.

 

The Affirmation Spot: What words of advice can you offer young people entering the world of serious relationships for the first time?

Maia Berens: Be brave enough to express what is really going on with you and trust what your intuition is telling you. Find an older, more successful person in good relationships to check things out with.

 

The Affirmation Spot: Maia, thank you for the fantastic insights. How can people contact you to learn more about your services?

Maia Berens:

 Phone:  (310) 264-5625

Email: maia@whataboutlifecoaching.com

Websites: http://whataboutlifecoaching.com and http://thepumpkincoach.com

 

Thank you to Maia for sharing her wisdom with us.

 

Stay inspired!

 

Ray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sacred Life Equation – The Affirmation Spot for Tuesday June 17, 2008



ray_launchpad.jpgYour Fifth Affirmation is Always Free at The Affirmation Spot

Whenever you download four affirmations at The Affirmation Spot your fifth affirmation is free. Simply type five in the coupon field at checkout to get your fifth affirmation free. (Offer valid only on a per order basis. Multiple single downloads do not receive this discount.)


Today’s affirmation is:

“My world is what I make of it and I choose to make it a happy place to be.”
(5 times)

“Your world is what you make of it and you choose to make it a happy place to be.”
(5 times)

Hear an audio mp3 version of this affirmation right now.


Many of us were stunned at the untimely passing last Friday of TV journalist Tim Russert. The broadcasting world lost one of its giants. Americans lost one of the few journalists with the courage to ask the hard questions.

It is my fervent hope that young journalists, reflecting on Mr. Russert’s passing, will rededicate themselves to their vital and independent role in maintaining freedom and democracy by truly keeping the people informed.

Of course, whenever an event like this happens it gives us each pause to reflect on the brief moment we are all here. A colleague of mine reminded me yesterday that, “each day is a gift.” We say things like that and we think things like that, but do we really live it every day?

Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us in his 1991 book Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life.

“Every morning, when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand new hours to live. What a precious gift! We have the capacity to live in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others.

Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it.”

Even for someone like me, who experienced the chilly breath of death on the back of my neck at an early age; it’s easy to forget how precious each day, each moment is. We get caught up in what we’re doing and worrying about what other people think and we lose sight of what is important….why we’re here.

There is a very simple tool you can use to weigh the importance of things that are stealing your happiness, your joy, your peace today. I’m calling it – this is dramatic – The Sacred Life Equation.

On one side of the equation is your joy, happiness, and peace of mind and on the other side are the worries and problems that are dragging you down.

  • My joy =  the bills
  • My happiness = what others say and do or don’t say and don’t do
  • My peace of mind = having so many things

You know the equations for you. Obviously, when you put them in this simple equation these worries are not equal. Your joy is worth more than worries about the bills. Your happiness does not rely on others. Your peace of mind does not come from possessing things.

The actual equations we should be living by are:

  • My joy >  the bills
  • My happiness > what others say and do or don’t say and don’t do
  • My peace of mind > having so many things
  • How is unconsciously living as if your concerns are as important your dreams damaging your experience of that precious gift of this 24 hours?

    You know what’s really important. “The question,” as Thich Nhat Hanh poses it, “is whether or not we are in touch with it.” Are we living as if our happiness is more important than our worries?

    What do you think Tim Russert would tell you, if he could speak to you today? Put your worries into the The Sacred Life Equation against the important things and see how they come out. Today is a brand new 24 hours. Make the most of it.

    Stay inspired!

    Ray

    Positive Thinking versus Wishful Thinking – The Affirmation Spot for Saturday June 14, 2008

    Today’s Affirmation:
    “I am bigger than any doubt, bolder than any fear, and stronger any obstacle!

     

    Sometimes I think positive thinking takes a bad rap because people confuse it with wishful thinking. Positive thinking is a philosophy rooted in the idea that your thoughts are the basis for the actions you take in life and, therefore, the results you can expect.

    When you begin with a foundation of positive thoughts (as opposed to negative) you increase your belief and increase activity towards a desired goal. These two factors impact achievement incrementally to dramatically depending on the situation.

    Many people fail to realize that positive thinking is really about acting. It only recommends that acting from a place where your thoughts are supporting your actions yields better results than merely blind action.

    Wishful thinking, with its endemic inaction, is what many people view as positive thinking. That perception devalues positive thinking in the minds of some who see themselves as “action people.”

    Positive thinking has several key characteristics:

    • Positive vision – thinking positively about your skills, your talents, your capabilities, your options, and your potential results provides a strong foundation for success.
    • Confidence – positive thinkers have a strong belief in themselves and a sense of mission about their goals.
    • Proactive – Positive thinking is action or motion-based. It is the tremor that creates a tsunami of motion and activity towards achieving a desired outcome. Positive thinking is about making things happen through focused activity.
    • Realistic to idealistic – positive thinkers are immersed in reality, but don’t see themselves as limited by it. They recognize that struggle and obstacles sometimes create better results. They acknowledge that there are obstacles (i.e. circumstances or the world are not always perfect) and work on ways around the obstacles. It begins with a realistic assessment of things and moves confidently towards achieving the ideal.
    • Deals with setbacks – recognizes that setbacks are a sign something is happening (activity). Rejection letters are a sign you are submitting your book idea. Customer no’s are a sign you are pitching your ideas. It seeks opportunities to convert setbacks into learning that can be used in achieving the ultimate goal.
    • Achieves – positive thinkers usually succeed – though not always at their original goal. Sometimes the goal evolves through the process of achievement. One way or the other, the positive thinker finds his or her way to the goal.

    Wishful thinking is the empty version of positive thinking. It is the strategy of waiting and hoping good things will happen to you. It may have positive thoughts as a component, but that is where the similarities end.

    Wishful thinking has several key characteristics:

    • Situation-based – wishful thinking starts out in the right place. There is an effort to create a positive thought foundation. However, that positive thinking is focused on creating the perfect environment for advancement. This approach deflects focus from the person and his or her capabilities towards trying to create the right situation for advancement.
    • Doubt – wishful thinkers have some serious doubts about their ability to reach their goals and so rely on circumstances.
    • Reactive – wishful thinking hopes that circumstances will become favorable for advancement. However, it is reactive because it waits for those circumstances to happen rather than making them happen.
    • Idealistic to realistic – the wishful thinker puts on the rose-colored glasses and hopes to achieve an idyllic state. Often, reality is something negative to be avoided. Hitting reality often sends the wishful thinker back to waiting mode – waiting for the ideal situation.
    • Setbacks sidetrack – wishful thinkers are often sidetracked by obstacles and setbacks because it undermines their “perfect situation” scenario. When obstacles enter into the picture, the wishful thinker gets stuck and gives up.
    • Waits – the wishful thinker has the same beautiful goals and dreams as the positive thinker. He or she wants to succeed just as badly, but because the philosophy is waiting on the perfect situation, it often never comes and goals go unrealized.

    At times, we are all a mix of these two approaches. Few people can maintain the absolute belief and action of the positive thinker all day, every day. Many can unconsciously slip into wishful thinking in some situations. That said, they are two starkly different approaches that appear the same to many people.

    Many wishful thinkers see themselves as positive thinkers. The main difference is hoping for something as opposed to acting on it. If you are a wishful thinker, you can change today by remembering to take action on your plans and realizing NOW is the only “perfect situation” there ever is in this life.

    Many actual positive thinkers don’t see themselves as such because of the prevailing perception of positive thinking as weak or inactive. This causes them miss the incredible benefits of aligning the power of their minds with the power of their action. Don’t short change yourself. Take your drive for action and enhance it by training your thoughts to positively support your action.

    So, what’s the difference between the two strategies in the real world? Take world peace. We all want it, right?

    Wishful thinking strategy in a nutshell:

    The wishful thinker says, “I want world peace. I believe it is possible, but we can’t have it now. Why start? Conditions are not favorable. Politicians are too corrupt, people too selfish, and the world is too unfair. We’ll work on it when these things change.”

    Positive thought > conditions not perfect > act on it someday > goal never achieved

    Positive thinking strategy in a nutshell:

    The positive thinker says, “I want world peace and even if we can’t achieve it today we can begin. Conditions may not be favorable. Politicians are corrupt, people are selfish, and the world is an unfair place. However, we can take action to change those things as we work towards the goal.”

    Positive thought > conditions not perfect > change conditions > achieve goal

    Note that the initial impulse (positive thought) is the same in both strategies. The conclusion about circumstances is the same. It’s the decision based on the circumstances that makes all the difference.

    Life gives no guarantees. Some positive thinkers never reach their ultimate goal. Some wishful thinkers get lucky.

    However, becoming a positive thinker increases your chances of achieving your goals – and soon. It’s all about the decision – the decison to act or not to act.

    Ray

    Ray Davis is the Founder of The Affirmation Spot and focuses on empowering minds to think positively, achieve goals, and live dreams. He is author of the ebook The Power to Be You and the forthcoming The Power to Be You 2: 1001 Power Thoughts for Daily Life.

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