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The Uncertainty of Positive Thinking
I seldom have a problem in thinking positively; some might say even to the point of being in denial of actuality. But the alternative is negativity and this, in my view, is such a largely self-fulfilling state as to be not worth contemplating. The absence of hope is in fact fairly rare, and the very process of visualising a positive outcome is, in itself, a powerful therapy. None the less, I encounter far more negative thinking than positive, and this is anathema to me. Yes, it is difficult to cling to optimism when confronted with as much global and local bad news as we have all heard over the last couple of years; but collapsing under its weight is not an option, and never has been. Call it what you like; optimism, hopefulness, confidence, determination or delusion, focusing the mind on a preferred outcome is a dominant trait which seems to subconsciously marshal our personal human resources.
But the really strange thing is that positive thinking not only improves our mental state, but can also enhance our physical condition too. It is well worth noting that in medicine, even in these days of hugely expensive and sophisticated pharmaceuticals, one of the most effective medicines is the placebo; basically a medicine that looks like a real prescription but is in fact totally inert having no effect on the body. A huge array of studies going back to the 1950s and beyond, generally agree that the ‘placebo effect’ is approximately 40% effective in achieving a real or perceived improvement across an enormous range of human illnesses. In other words, the placebo is one of the most effective remedies in the doctor’s arsenal; the patient being made to think positively by believing in the doctors and his medicines.
But positive thinking does not come naturally to most of us, we default to pessimism and negativity, unable to switch off the “worry gland”; my pet name for that other largely useless but natural human trait of apprehension and anxiety. This perfectly normal tendency evolved to keep us safe when our ancestors were vulnerable prey animals in the prehistoric forest, enabling us to imagine and visualise the frequent danger in which they lived and prepare a defence, or better still a strategy to eliminate the threat. This led over millennia to our dominance of the natural world and the enhanced intelligence of the human race we now enjoy. But today that same intelligence should also equip us with the tools to understand our nature and control those parts of it which are inappropriate or unhelpful in any given circumstance.
For instance, I don’t think you’ll find too many negative thinkers on the British Olympic team. However they started out in their sport as talented young athletes with a gift, their trainers will have done their best to eliminate any thought of losing, attempting to focus their minds instead on winning, on victory, the podium and the glittering medals. Even when things go wrong, injury, a false start, even superior competitors, you are allowed a short period of dismay and commiseration before redeploying the positive thoughts to achieve a better outcome next time. Winners win….. eventually! This is the very simple message to people in every walk of life. Success comes ONLY from positivity, but not only success; peace of mind, wellbeing, health, deep sleep and Yes, happiness.
We are all prone to complaining; ‘Whinging Poms’ the Australians used to call us in the early days of emigration when large numbers of Brits moved to the antipodes, and they were right. We, as a nation, can moan for
days about the weather, the government, the price of fuel, sport or our health. None of this tetchy talk makes the slightest difference and we’d be better employed either avoiding exposure to the ‘whinge triggers’, or concentrating on ways to put them right. I myself am not immune from complaining and feeling annoyance at the way things pan out, so I do understand how easy it is to slide into depression and negativity. But fortunately I always seem to be able to grab the life-jacket of positive thinking, whatever life throws at me, and I am extremely grateful for this ability. Oh and please remember that positive thinking isn't hoping you'll win the lottery, that really is delusion! Use that huge brain to THINK your way out of your current distress and never expect some Fairy Godmother to appear and fix it for you - it's YOUR destiny after all, get it sorted!
So OK, how do you resist negativity and focus on positive outcomes in whatever you encounter in your life? Well I find it useful to visualise large electrical switches in my mind. Whenever negative thoughts or anxiety begin to creep into my consciousness I simply throw the switch, shrouding the negativity in darkness, and mentally switch on a brighter image, preferably not the directly positive image to the darkened thought, as this tends to allow the mind to continue to circle the problem area. What is required is a new, brighter idea not associated with the anxiety and it doesn’t matter how trivial this new thought might be, often the more inconsequential the better. After a while this switching becomes second nature. It is however important that this technique happens in your mind and you don’t seek external diversion in TV, or music, etc. It doesn’t make the problem go away, but does allow you feel better, less stressed, more innovative in your strategy to eliminate it. It frees you from that “rabbit caught in the headlights” feeling of paralysis, and you begin to see that there are always options you hadn’t considered and that sometimes even really bad situations can have strange, positive upsides.
As an example of ‘strange, positive upsides’, I’m sitting here writing this as a direct result of some utterly disastrous things which happened in my life over the last couple of years. I’ll not bore you with the details but, I will say that I’m thoroughly enjoying my new role and have seldom been more fulfilled and less stressed. So in those immortal words which appeared on bumper stickers in the 1960s “SHIT HAPPENS”, just remember that shit will always happen – it’s simply a case of how YOU deal with it!
Now, after that lengthy epistle, which I hope some of you might find helpful, I had better tell you about some exciting new lines and features you can find on our Country Attire website. 2012 is a very special year for us and for Great Britain for several reasons. This summer London will host the Olympic Games, and this year the UK is celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, who will have reigned for 60 years; the longest ruling monarch in the world. So in spite of the doom and gloom from the global recession, the UK is bucking the trend, determined to show the world how proud we are to be hosting the Olympics and also how proud we are of our monarch and our country. There will never be a better time to visit Britain, and to celebrate this special year Country Attire has collected ‘British Gold’, a whole bunch of British and Olympic themed products which we know you will love. So whether it’s crazy Olympic themed Hunter Wellys in Gold, Silver and Bronze, or a cool England Polo Shirt from Joules, it’s time to join the great British 2012 party!