Positive thinking is a wonderful trait, which is why it is often the cornerstone of most self-improvement regimens. The logic is straightforward: when you think positively, you are more likely to make changes that yield positive results. Undoubtedly this approach works, but has limitations as humans are never positive 100% all of the time. We all have doubts, worries, and fears that, if not properly managed, can derail our positive thinking in a moment.
This is the negative side of positive thinking.
Create Positivity with Intention
The goal is to consistently receive the benefits of positive thinking, but not the fleeting moments in which they appear. For this to happen, we must train ourselves to think positively regardless of current mood or circumstance.
While this may sound counter-intuitive, it may make sense if we use a classic economics metaphor: a business that produces widgets. The more widgets your business produces, the more success you enjoy. But there is a catch: your business can only produce widgets on sunny days. Needless to say, your business would suffer immeasurably, if not fail completely. This is how many of us operate on a daily basis. We only execute to our potential on sunny days and, as the widget metaphor illustrates, our results are lackluster at best.
Schedule Your Positive Daily Action
But there is a solution. As the Navy SEAL Team Six saying goes, “You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it.” Taking this to heart, I personally have a number of “to do’s” (i.e. meditation, gratitude, reading, prospecting, blogging, tweeting, etc.) that I perform every day for approximately two hours, regardless of whether I am in a thinking positively or not. These keep me working toward my goals while brushing aside any discouragements, failures, and any negative thinking I may encounter.
This doesn’t happen overnight: studies have shown habits take anywhere from 21-30 days to take hold. This process requires time, commitment, and consistency that in an “I want it now” world, proving more and more difficult for people to achieve. To aid in this endeavor, we have digital tools at our fingertips. To check off my completed items, I use the app HabitBull, and for writing, I use the app Evernote. As always, a trusty journal to mark your progress on paper is just fine, too.
Commit to Your Positive Daily Outcomes
Regardless of the tool, you must define and prioritize what, why, and how often you need to perform every day. Track your progress, celebrate victories, and keep pushing. If there are setbacks, perform a root cause analysis, learn from them, and recalibrate your process. It’s with these daily positive actions (little “wins”) and constant reconfiguring that we develop an action plan for making our own sunny days and avoiding the negativity cycle that comes with the unexpected.
As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”