An old acquaintance of mine recently wrote an article about positive thinking -- a subject that is often misunderstood. For many years I, like many people on the personal-development path, believed that by writing down and repeating positive affirmations (positive statements about yourself or your life, written in the present tense as if they were already true), I would think more positively and the changes I sought in myself and in my life would happen automatically. I hung these inspiring statements up all over my house, memorized them, and repeated them out loud, sometimes as much as 100 times a day. But it seemed that no matter how many times I said them, the changes I hoped to achieve continued to elude me.
It would be nearly 20 years before I finally realized that while affirmations are a powerful tool for clarifying and focusing on what you want, positive action is also required to achieve it. Positive action generates positive thinking, which generates more positive action and positive thinking. Positive action and thinking are a choice, a choice that can be challenging, especially for people who have experienced much suffering and pain in their lives -- but it's still a choice.
For example, you feel lonely and sad, but instead of isolating yourself, you do something positive. Maybe you attend a cooking class, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or go out for a run -- something that refocuses your thoughts and produces a more positive experience rather than sitting home alone eating cookies and feeling sorry for yourself.
Chronic negative thinking and the emotions it invokes is, like many destructive behaviors, a form of addiction. People become addicted to habitual, "gloom and doom" thoughts, as well as to the emotions they produce--such as fear and anger. It becomes their comfort zone--it may not be very pleasant, but it's familiar.
To break this self-defeating addiction, you have to first understand its roots (almost always found in your life conditioning), and consciously change your behaviors and actions to ones that create more positive results. Over time, you'll build a string of positive experiences that solidifies a new internal reference point and makes a positive mindset in your new habitual way of thinking.
Lauren Mackler is the author of the international bestseller, Solemate: Master the Art of Aloneness & Transform Your Life. She is a psychotherapist, life and relationship coach, and host of the weekly Life Keys radio show on www.hayhouseradio.com. You can follow her on Twitter, watch her videos on YouTube, become a fan on Facebook, and read her Live Boldly blog You can contact her through her web site at www.laurenmackler.com.