I want to share a rough draft of an essay for my writing class. I share it with you because it’s relevant to my blog and can be relevant to you. Your thoughts on what I can do to make it a better essay are appreciated, though that’s not exactly what I’m looking for. As you read, I want you to think about your own life. Whether you suffer from misophonia and/or a slew of other things, or not, it is very relevant in how you can make your life better just by thinking more positively, and it’s explained in detail in my essay. What I have to say may not work for you, but I hope it gives you something to think about, and that you think of someone it might help, and share it with them. So, without further adieu:
People tend to fixate primarily on the negative things that happen to them in life. It gives them something to complain about to their family, friends, coworkers, or significant other. While discussing with others about the negative in one’s life is advantageous, not attempting to fix it or try to be happy despite it all defeats the purpose of the discussion. A person needs to find a solution to the negative, and that can come in the form of fixing it and/or finding the positive. Changing the negative mantra leads to being happier, being more successful, and a stronger desire to overcome life’s obstacles.
Negative events are temporary and manageable. Let’s imagine two students who took a test for a class and received their test scores the following day. Student A sees that they failed, and proceeds to think “I’m a failure. I can’t do anything right!” Student B, also seeing that they failed the test, thinks, “That was difficult, but it’s just one class so I’ll be fine. I do well in my other classes. I should still see what I can do to improve and do better next time.”
Student A is focusing on their low score to the point where they believe they’re a failure. These negative thoughts cloud the mind, preventing Student A from seeing the positive side of the situation and looking to the future. Student B, on the other hand, accepts that the test was difficult, but recognizes that there are other classes they’re doing well in. They’re seeing the positive within the negative, as well as acknowledging they need to improve. If Student B continues this way of thinking, they will lead a happier and more successful life than Student A, and continue to overcome any hurdles that life throws in their direction.
Positive thinking also builds a person’s skill set. According to James Clear, the advantages of positive thinking don’t stop. “In fact, the biggest benefit that positive emotions provide is an enhanced ability to build skills and develop resources for use later in life” (Clear, “How Positive Thinking Builds Your Skills”). He gives the example of a child developing certain skills by the way they play. They acquire athletic skills by swinging on branches and playing with friends, social skills by playing with others and working as a team, and creative skills by exploring and an investigating the world around them (Clear). These skills that the child learns will help them later in their life. For instance, their athleticism may land them a sports scholarship, or their communication skills could land them a job as a business manager. “The happiness that promoted the exploration and creation of new skills has long since ended, but the skills themselves live on” (Clear).
Let’s think back on the example of the students who failed their test and how each one responded. Student A handled their poor grade negatively while Student B found the positive. Clear talks about a researcher named Fredrickson, who studied positive thinking, and came up with the “broaden and build” theory. Essentially, the theory says that positive emotions broaden the sense of someone’s opportunities; it opens one’s mind. This, then, permits one to build new abilities that offer worth in other areas of their life (Clear). Student B wants to improve in order to well on the next test, meaning they broadened their mind, see an opportunity to succeed, and want to build upon their knowledge. Negative thinking, what Student A was doing, does the opposite. Student A sees the immediate threat (their low score), so building skills becomes irrelevant.
Happiness follows achievement. Fact, or myth? It’s true that achieving something brings happiness; getting a new job or winning a tournament. However, happiness does not always follow achievement. Going back to the “broaden and build” theory, it proves that happiness is vital in building the skills needed to be successful. As Clear puts it, “happiness is both the precursor to success and the result of it” (How Positive Thinking Builds Your Skills). It’s an upward spiral. If one is happy, they build their skills, which lead to success, which leads to more happiness, and so on.
Thinking positively is a learnable skill. To increase positive emotions, one needs to know what already works well for them. If they don’t, they need to find them. A few examples of what can spark positive feelings and joy can be playing the guitar, spending time with someone, or engaging in some other hobby such as photography. Clear proposes meditation, writing, and play. Daily meditation can increase positive feelings, and then build effective long-term skills. Clear mentioned that the researcher Fredrickson did a study on those who meditated. Three months later, “the people who meditated daily continued to display increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, and decreased illness symptoms” (Clear). One can also choose to write. Writing about a positive experience everyday can result in having a better mood and being healthier overall.
Scheduling a time to play is also essential. People schedule meetings, events, and other responsibilities, but hardly ever do people schedule play. People’s lives are so busy that being happy comes second on their to-do list, or not at all. Perhaps it’s thought as childish and not adult-like, but allowing ourselves to just explore and experiment, like when we were children, allows for more positive emotions. Intentionally allotting time to just have fun will allow a person to be happier, which thus begins the upward spiral of success.
I hope this was beneficial to you. See you next week!
Clear, James. “How Positive Thinking Builds Your Skills, Boosts Your Health, and Improves
Your Work.” James Clear, jamesclear.com/positive-thinking. Accessed 26 Apr. 2017.