EDWISE  - EDITOR AND EDUCATION CONSULTANT
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A Year of Living Positively -Day 69

Today, I'm just hanging around waiting for news about the arrangements for my move. I'd therefore like to take this time to discuss a couple of aspects of positive thinking as I see it.

First, I want to tackle Peale's slogan, "I can." I interpret this slogan to indicate that change is possible, and that people can instigate and manage change to their situation and make changes to the society around them. Okay. I think the slogan is used to inspire courage, self-confidence and belief in order to activate people to make changes happen. I get it and I'm in.

I want to critique the, "Yes, I can" version, where one announces they like "yes" but not "no." For, is it only "yes" that is empowering? On the flip side of that coin, is "no" never empowering and therefore positive, in spite of its linguistic role as an indicator of a negative response? Actually, saying "yes" all of the time is no always positive. Conversely, saying "no" can be positive. 

Just ask any woman. Saying "no" can safeguard dignity, morality, health and safety, whereas saying "yes" might put it all in jeopardy if what anyone is asked to do is harmful to oneself or to others.  If saying "yes" takes personal power, dignity and respect away, or if it caused bodily or psychological injury, it is definitely negative. If saying "yes" goes against your real healthy and positive wishes and ideals, it may be negative. In these kinds of scenarios, saying "no" may be the positive answer. If saying "no" results in better relationships and a more balanced life, as in saying "no" to more wealth or corporate advancement that could take time away from or forsake family and friends, and allow material benefits to cancel out some spiritual benefits, then "no" can be positive.

Let me move on to another topic of concern when it comes to defining or explaining positive thinking: that is question as to whether positive thinking intends to gloss over or dismiss real problems. My response is, "Au contraire!" From my angle on positive thinking, it is supposed to facilitate and improve problem management. To my mind, employing positive thinking entails facing problems and getting through them.

The point is, good things are usually happening while problems are occurring, or there can be good things emerge out of problems. Most kinds of problems don't have to be overwhelming. Also, you don't need to look for problems. Problems will happen; get used to it and have a strategy to handle them by doing things like looking forward beyond the problems, being better prepared, learning to avoid getting hampered and trapped by negative emotions such as disappointment, anger, sadness, frustration, and so on. 

I think advocates of positive outlooks intend the candidate to find more joy or create more joy in life rather than getting hung up by problems or your own or others' bad behavior. I interpret positive thinking to be a strategy by which to help create positive life experience in spite of problems or sad or disappointing events. Therefore, one should constantly make short and long term goals, pause and assess, then adjust and move forward. If you're not moving forward, try a new strategy.

If you have a strategy, it must be used or it won't work. Positive thinking requires the individual to get activated instead of being passive; it therefore takes more effort, but can save you trouble and bring more joy into your life. Where problems come up, set your mind to the tasks of fixing it, overcoming it, getting around it, or carrying on. Where relationships are going badly, review and change your behavior, talk to the other people to negotiate your interactions, and distance yourself from toxic relationships and environments. Where your skill and knowledge could be improved, try to improve them. When you are not reaching your goals, review your plans or change your goals. You won't grow and continue to find happiness if you are a passive bystander watching life go by.

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