The other day, I overheard two people start off with a friendly debate about positive thinking. One person was describing how thoughts were powerful and how one needed to think positive if they wanted to experience good results.
The other person said, “just because I think positive about something doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. If that were the case noone would ever be disappointed.”
Rather than agree to disagree, Positive Paula spent about fifteen minutes trying to prove her point. She named books, psychological studies and even provided examples from her life about times in which she’d changed her attitude for the better and her world shifted to a better place.
Yet Negative Nellie told her it was all wishful thinking designed to give people the illusion that they have some control over their lives.
As I listened to them rattle on, I realized they were both right. On any given day, I can find evidence that positive thoughts do improve my outcome or at least my perception of that outcome, which is most important anyway. Yet I can also find evidence that life is beyond my control. In fact, I’ve come to realize that you can find anything in this world if you look for it.
After all, what you place your attention on grows. And your heartfelt expectations usually come to be. The person looking for evidence that a lover is cheating eventually finds it. (What came first the expectation or the action?) The person who expects her colleagues to backstab her eventually has an experience that’s somewhat reflective.
And whether Positive Paula realized it or not, when she spent fifteen minutes debating her truth with Negative Nellie, she allowed herself to be sucked into Negative Nellie’s world, where Positive Paula indeed had no control over her situation and her positivity took a back seat to the cynicism that Negative Nellie chose to live with.
So I’m careful about what I look for and I’m careful about what I place my attention on. Next time someone tries to draw you into their reality, try doing the same.