Positive thinking is the source, the HOLY GRAIL, the underlying characteristic that gives both substance and sustenance to our desires which in turn, fuels our goals. Your unique vision of what success is to you may not be the same as mine. We assign a value or a measurement to differentiate the level of importance that we place onto our individual goals. And as we begin to share our goals with others, we may find that they don’t share the same goals with us or that they do share the same goals but it may begin to feel to us that we are all competing for some imaginary finite territory of space.
Competition is not necessarily a bad thing because it motivates that part in some of us that maybe thinks it wants to stick up our middle finger, look someone straight in the eye, and smile. Equally, your competition is never going to successfully be you, even if they try to emulate you, because they lack all your unique quirks and characteristics which differentiate you from me and everyone else. On the one-hand, modelling oneself on others is useful and should be discussed, because modelling is how all learning takes place, but on the other-hand, success belongs to individuals who understand that they must investigate and discover the parts of themselves which make them unique, and then capitalise on it.
Your ‘highest’ assessment of what success is to you could be anything – from receiving an offer to start working for a global and progressive law firm, finding ‘the one’ and marrying, enrolling and finishing in that French culinary school, buying and managing your own barber shop, moving to and living in another country, renovating an Edwardian home and flipping it for a profit, building your muscles, investing in a Lamborghini, having Rhinoplasty, becoming a stock broker, farmer, accountant, billionaire, auditioning successfully – whatever it is, I can assure you of one thing; you are more likely going to succeed in your version of ‘success’ if you create that ‘idea’ of what success is to you for yourself, believe in it, and are committed, genuinely committed, to turning your mind towards Positive Thinking. Positive Thinking is defined in the following terms by the English Oxford Dictionary:
Psychology “The practice or result of concentrating one’s mind affirmatively on the good and constructive aspects of a matter so as to eliminate negative or destructive attitudes and emotions.”
We all want to win – we want victory. Will it make us happy? Well, all I can say to you is that it will make you happier than not winning. Feeling defeated or like a failure in some way eats away at one’s spirit. In Gestalt Therapy, Fritz Perls, the father of Gestalt, referred to this ugly feeling as ‘unfinished business’. To provide you with an introduction to Gestalt, I have included what is known as the Gestalt Prayer. In essence, it is not a ‘prayer’ in the traditional sense of praying to a higher power like God. Instead, it is more or less a statement that was created by the founder of Gestalt to express what Gestalt ‘looks like’. I find it particularly beneficial and useful when I am dealing with insoluble problems that are unable to be negotiated fairly. Or, to put it differently, when there is no meeting of the minds or agreement that can be reached.
I absolutely endorse its principles and think it is worthy of consideration to anyone who may perhaps need to consider disengaging or reducing harmful or unfulfilling interactions with others.
The Gestalt Prayer
I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.
If not, it can't be helped.
(Fritz Perls, "Gestalt Therapy Verbatim", 1969)
One recommended textual resource I personally recommend if you are interested in reading or learning more about Gestalt Therapy is titled, “Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality”. Authors: Fritz (Frederick) Perls, Paul Goodman and Ralph Hefferline. Positive Thinking is not magical thinking. It is not obscuring or denying reality. For instance, ‘Positive Thinking’ will not make someone nicer or change a person’s abusive behaviour unless that person themselves chooses to practice and use Positive Thinking. Using ‘common sense’ and fair judgement about people is better than throwing yourself into a lion zoo enclosure and thinking Positive Thinking will save you. It could save you, by an act of God, which is called a miracle, but I don’t recommend trying it.
If we stop dreaming, planning and taking actual steps towards reaching our goals because we are associating Positive Thinking with the impossible and ‘unrealistic’, then we are practicing negative thinking. With plenty of focus and strategic attention directed towards negative thinking, people can end up manifesting and inviting a tsunami of negative realities. I have been there, as I am sure you have also, where we allowed so much negativity to build up into our lives that we just ‘accepted’ it as a permanent condition, because we felt it was outside of our control. We all have so much more power than we allow ourselves to imagine, realise or believe.
There is no need to harp on about negative conditions or stories which make our lives and the lives of others difficult. No need to keep rehashing the same story about how your husband or girlfriend spends too much time away or doesn’t seem to care about you in the same way. The useful question we can ourselves is - what do we propose to do next? That is Positive Thinking!