Positive Thinking Versus Wishful Thinking

pratiSometimes 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 thinking based – 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 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.

Follow your bliss! Experience your bliss! Become your bliss!

Ray

Ray Davis is the founder of The Affirmation Spot. He’s been studying and practicing personal development for 30 years. He’s also studied many of the world’s spiritual traditions and mythologies.

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Boost Your Mind Power – The Affirmation Spot for Wednesday May 6, 2009

Today’s affirmation is:

“I am creating a personal budget and sticking to it.”” (click the affirmation to hear it in MP3)

Today David Riklan, Founder of SelfGrowth.com, shares 7 tips for increasing your mind power.

Stay inspired!

Ray

Beyond “Happy Thoughts” to Empowerment – The Affirmation Spot for Friday March 27, 2009

Today’s thought is:

“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”
~ Benjamin Disraeli

Many people equate positive thinking with naivete. Thinking “happy thoughts”, they point out, in the face of tragedy or difficulty is unrealistic.

There seems to be a defensiveness in that line of thinking. It renders as, “If I let my guard down enough to think ‘happy thoughts’ when things are tough, I’m going to get hurt. So, I’m going to steel myself against that possibility by thinking negative (um, realistic) thoughts.”

I can’t think of a better time to think “happy thoughts” than in the face of struggle. The challenge is whether or not you can. It’s not so easy to face down injustice, sadness, depression, and hatred with a sense of peace and a wise smile. It takes incredible strength and fortitude to do that and we, this blogger included, often fail miserably.

Negativity (um, realism) is like a powerful gravity well sucking us into its depths. We become caught up in negativity (um, realism) and we find ourselves getting more negative (um, realistic) by the moment. A “happy thought” is a very good thing at that moment. it changes the perspective. After all, the overwhelming majority of stresses we feel in our lives are rooted in our thinking. Maybe, just maybe, changing your thoughts changes the situation.

“Happy thoughts” are beneficial, but only a beginning. Empowered thinking is the ultimate goal. Empowered thinking changes the dynamic from throwing “happy thoughts” against a stressful world to actually feeling strong enough to act for change.

Three elements of Empowered Thinking

  1. Thought aspect – you have to think positively. Belief and commitment are important in any endeavor. Positive thinking is imperative to maximize those attributes. Positive thinking is the basis for empowered thinking, but empowered thinking is more than just positive thinking. It incorporates two more elements.
  2. Knowledge aspect – you have to be informed. In achievement pursuits, know what you are trying to achieve and be informed on what is going to be involved in succeeding. Knowing that ahead of time can help you prepare mentally for it. When empowering your thinking to critically evaluate information (such as in politics) you need to know as many of the facts as possible. Positive thinking and a lack of information do not allow you to take powerful action.
  3. Action aspect – empowered thinking is more than just thinking and knowing. Empowered thinking includes action. If you have incorporated the first two elements, your actions can be motivated and informed.

While “happy thoughts” may provide you a kind of protective shield; empowered thoughts help you break out of your shell and move forward towards a better you, a better life, and a better world.

Stay inspired!

Ray

2009 Affirmation

“This year I am absolutely committed to being the person I came here to be.”

You Have to Keep Running – The Affirmation Spot for Monday March 9, 2009

Today’s Affirmation:

“I have an absolute attitude of gratitude for everything and everyone in my life.”
(Click the affirmation to add to your mp3 player)

baseball_homeplateNationwide Insurance is currently running a series of TV ads with the phrase, “Life comes at you hard.” It’s true. Life can be a challenge sometimes.

Saturday was beautiful Spring-like day in the Kansas City area. I took my beautiful black lab Mia for a walk. We live next door the elementary school here and between us and the school is a baseball field.

There was a kickball game going on as we passed by. I paused to watch for a few minutes. It was a mix of adults, little kids, and littler kids – probably a family get-together of some kind.

As Mia and I stood there, one of the smallest kids stepped up the plate. The pitcher rolled the ball and the little boy kicked with all his might. I went to third base. The little boy was chugging down the to first base for all he was worth.

The third baseman fielded the ball and tried to hit the little boy with it to get him out. The ball missed and rolled behind first base.

At this point, chaos broke out. The little boy stopped at first momentarily and then people started yelling, “Run, run, run.” He took off for second. As he neared second, people started yelling, “Stop, stop, stop.”

Another fielder threw the ball trying to get the little boy out at second, but missed again. The ball rolled away from the fielder. Now people were yelling a mix of, “Run, run, run” and”Stop, stop, stop.”

The comedy of fielding errors continued and the little boy, no longer listening to the mixed shouts coming from the crowd, forced the issue by rounding third and heading for home.

The ball arrived to the catcher too late and he dove into home plate head first and scored.

I took this as a metaphor. The little boy, through all the chaos and the advice from the divided experts, just kept running. He wasn’t really paying attention to what the fielders were doing with the ball. He seemed to be locked in on the idea of scoring that run. He kept running!

How often, as you try to achieve your goals in life, do you have people telling you, “Do this” or “Do that”? Do you let it stop you and knock you off course or do you keep running? It’s easy to get stalled listening to the experts or worrying what “the fielders are doing with the ball.”

Life does come at you hard. There is chaos all around as you are pursuing your path.

Stay focused! Keep moving toward your dreams. I’m not saying experts can’t be helpful and I’m not saying ignore other aspects of your life. I am saying that when you have a goal or a dream your job is to keep running.

If you do, you’ll be sliding into home plate with a big score as well!

Stay inspired!

Ray

2009 Affirmation

“This year I am absolutely committed to being the person I came here to be.”

Into Each Life A Little Rain – The Affirmation Spot for Thursday February 19, 2009

Today’s Affirmation:

“Every time I share my dreams with someone else; every time I put them out into the Universe they are closer to coming true.”
(Click the affirmation to add to your mp3 player)

silouette_ocean_horizon.jpgIt is a beautiful day, a day of hope for the future; a day of limitless beginnings. For your life is like a garden, you must plant it and tend it before the harvest comes.

You must nurture the garden of your life as you go; weeding it of old destructive patterns of thought and action. Making sure it receives the love and care necessary for its growth and ultimately its blossoming.

As with any garden, there must come times of sunshine and times of rain. Both must be if the garden is to succeed and flourish. Conventional wisdom claims that joy is easier to find in the proverbial sunshine than in the proverbial rain.

I have found, however, that when I accept the necessity of the rain, stand in it willingly, and understand its nature and purpose; it can be even sweeter than the sunshine.

The sunshine is the provider of life, doing its work over long hours, days, and weeks. Without it, there is no life. The rain, by contrast, is an occasional visitor. It appears in short increments, but is the source of rapid growth. It brings newness to all it touches.

So keep in mind that if today brings a little rain into your life, it’s OK. The sun will return soon enough. It is right behind the clouds. For today, stand strong, give yourself to the rain, and grow grow grow!

Stay inspired!

Ray
http://www.theaffirmationspot.com

2009 Affirmation

“This year I am absolutely committed to being the person I came here to be!”