Whether You Think You Can Or Think You Can’t, You’re Right!
From time to time we all experience negative thoughts as well as angry or depressing feelings. Ups and downs are a part of life. But overall, do you see the best or the worst in situations? Is your glass half full or half empty?
The frame by which you see the world defines what happens to you. Perhaps you remember reading The Little Engine that Could - the small train competing with the powerful new locomotive. Although this children’s book has become a popular view of optimism, the story provides an erroneous concept of positive thinking. Optimism is far more complex than simply saying “I think I can, I think I can.” Just like physical exercise, mental agility requires dedication and practice. It begins when you appreciate the goodness in your life instead of dwelling on how bad things are. The research on happiness indicates that in addition to gratitude, taking a “half-full” perspective reduces stress and promotes creative problem-solving.
Consider the story about two shoe salesmen that sailed to a faraway island to sell shoes. After the first day, each of them sent back telegrams. One said, “This place is a disaster. No one wears shoes.” The other telegram read, “This place is a gold mine. No one wears shoes!” From the ability to sell treatment to increasing your immune responses, your success begins with how you think. Optimistic people are more successful – in business endeavors, athletic performance, personal relationships. Remaining positive in the face of adversity could mean big bucks for your practice and it is likely to improve your overall sense of well being too. The really good news is that you can learn to be more optimistic!
During childhood and adolescence you developed thinking habits based on your life experiences as well as the role models around you. Your explanatory style was formed directly from your view of your place in the world – whether you thought you were important and deserving, or insignificant and doomed to failure. Over time you constructed a belief system about how the world operates and your place within that world. It was the foundation upon which you make judgments and decisions. Even if that belief system helped you to survive a difficult start in life, it may not be working any longer. Stop and examine your thinking.
There is now scientific evidence showing that our thoughts actually have energy. The way it works is that we operate our lives based on assumptions - our “mental models.” These are the rules we follow to make decisions and choices in our life. For the most part, assumptions are unspoken and operate at a subconscious or even an unconscious level. What you believe and expect ultimately becomes your reality. If you focus on problems and obstacles you will find yourself moving further into a downward spiral. Perhaps you have fallen into the trap of griping (even if only thinking it) about the shortcomings of your employees. Of course your scheduler could chat less and focus more on filling holes in your calendar. Your clinical assistant could be a better record keeper. Reduced tension between the front and back office would be grand.
Be careful. Each grumble puts you into a mindset of depreciation. It’s akin to the half-empty vs. half-full perspective. The former provokes feelings of loss - that something is missing - while the latter leads to feelings of optimism. But when you appreciate what you already have you attract more of the same, so start the gratitude process today! Take a look at what is right. Value those gifts no matter how small. Appreciation stirs our feelings, excites our curiosity, and provides inspiration to the envisioning mind. It draws our eye toward the essentials of life.
Rid yourself of quick judgments, fixed perspectives, and old opinions. Make room for discovery and innovation. The ability to open your thinking to different views, to connect with other people, and to shake outmoded paradigms is within you when you adopt the spirit of appreciation. Remember, “As you think, so shall you become.”
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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