How would you vote?

by Jan on November 29, 2011

CBS News Poll "Would you say positive thinking..."

CBS’s Sunday Morning Show this week featured a conversation about the power of positive thinking in which Barbara Ehrenreich, author of the book Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America, and a handful of other experts, explore the effects of  “positive thinking.” It got me thinking about how we create our lives by our thoughts, by our actions, and yes, by having hope.

My interpretation of what she said is that positive thinking is basically a waste of time, and unrealistic.

Now wait a minute.  Who said that hope couldn’t be realistic?

And what is “realistic” anyway? It’s just a perspective. My realism isn’t yours; it’s all how you look at things. The truth is that what is realistic for me may not be realistic for you.

Reality is a sliding, malleable, changeable thing.

For example, I’ve been told that people my age should be retired and be knitting or playing golf.  In my reality that kind of life would kill me off much sooner.  For me the pursuit of interesting work, inquiry, and new ideas are what keep me feeling more alive.  I don’t want to give up on a fruitful life that becomes enriched by who I meet and what I learn.

How do you want to spend your days? Do you want to spend your days seeing the “realistic” in everything or do you want to spend your days looking to find some new possibilities? That’s what hope is.

I am sure that you have heard the expression, “live in the moment.”  At the end of the day all we have are those collected moments.  The point is to make those moments count; to be the best that they can be.

So much magic and mystery in life go missing if we focus on what is only realistic. There are places where being realistic can be vital, but to live on in that world alone can be quite boring.

Regardless of whether you are realistic or not, disappointments happen.  Without hope and without a positive frame of view, it is a dark and depressing place to me.

And who needs or wants that?

Tali Sharot’s study of positive thinking, The Optimism Bias, found that we’re hardwired to be unrealistic. It’s what drove Columbus to get on a boat headed toward what he thought was the edge of the world.

It is our willingness to take risks, to explore, occasionally, the edge of our world:, to believe that there just might be something we can’t touch or see right now—to have an adventure—that adds some sparkle to our lives.

The feeling of sparkle in life has a way of leading us to explore the great unknown; that path which opens us to what we never thought we could be.

That’s the exciting part. That’s where hope comes in. We have so much within us that is ready to be born—realistic or not.

When you hear somebody say, be realistic. I encourage you to think, “whose reality?” It’s all how you look at things.

Optical Illusion: Vase or Face?

Optical Illusion: Vase or Face?


My comment to anyone who would say that it is a waste of time, and makes no difference is this; “Try it”.

I have personally experienced the difference in my own life. A positive mindset does not guarantee that there will be no hardships in life. What it does is keeps molehills from becoming mountains, and it allows you to focus on resolution rather than self pity, resentment, frustration and envy.

It also impacts the world around you. People respond moreso to a positive person. You can sweep others up in your enthusiasm. Watch to see how others respond when, during the next crisis you suffer, you smile and look for the solutions instead of sitting and suffering.

by Lynn Cunningham on February 8, 2012 at 10:49 am. #

That’s a great response, Lynn — “try it for yourself”. And Hope and positivity really are contagious. It does make a difference to the people around you — even strangers. Thanks for taking the time to comment, and keep on being a positive influence in your world.

by Elizabeth@HopeOnHope on February 8, 2012 at 7:00 pm. #

The power of positive thought is drives us to be the best we can be, see through the difficult times and make dreams and plans for the future! Without it we would all be living humdrum lives, or worse taken our lives from not being able to see ahead of the calamity that we are working through at the time.

by Michele on February 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm. #

This is so true, Michele! A positive perspective makes all the difference in the world to how we approach things in life, both the good things and the difficult ones. Hope is a positive force that helps us dream and make plans. Love the way you put it. Thanks for the comment!
Hope on Hope

by Elizabeth@HopeOnHope on February 8, 2012 at 6:53 pm. #