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Personal growth: Some thoughts on positive thinking May 11, 2018

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in personal development ideas.
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In his book, You Can Be Happy No Matter What, Richard Carlson offers a critique of the “positive thinking” concept and suggests that, “A positive thinker is constantly under pressure to produce only positive thoughts, which takes enormous effort and concentration, leaving little energy for new and creative thoughts.”

Carlson’s opinion in this respect, is based to a large extent on his view that positive thinking’s opposite, negative thinking, arises mostly from our moods, in this case, being in a low mood.

The low mood makes our negatives thoughts seem very real because while in a low mood we will find it very difficult to see the world from anything but a dark, depressed viewpoint.

A key point Carlson makes is that whatever it is we think about, such as a financial challenge, it will be easier to find solutions when we are in a higher mood as our minds will be more clear and open to more possibilities.

The problem itself does not change, but solutions are not likely to appear very easily, if at all, when are thinking is clouded by a dark mood. And when in these dim moods, no amount of forced positive affirmation will make a solution more likely.

Carlson emphasizes, “The only feelings you will ever experience in a low mood are negative feelings; thus it makes no sense to trust or act on those feelings.”

Postpone your problem solving efforts because “The solution is to wait until the mood rises, which it will, on its own. The less attention you give your thinking in your low moods, the quicker your mood will rise. And at that point, and that point alone, your wiser feelings will surface.” (1)

(1) Richard Carlson, You Can Be Happy No Matter What: Five Principles Your Therapist Never Told you, New World Library, Novato, California, 1997, 141 pages.

Carlson, an author, psychotherapist, and motivational speaker, died at the relatively young age of 47. There is a short article about him on Wikipedia; here’s the link: