What's the big deal about a positive attitude? You've heard of how-to articles, but this is a why-to article. Why is it so important to develop the ability to choose a positive attitude, no matter what?
We Westerners have a tendency to worship the brain. Note that I didn't say the mind, but the brain. We confuse the two. When I speak of the mind, I'm speaking of our own piece of the mind of God. The mind is the Observer within us that can watch our thoughts and choose which ones to entertain. The brain is something else: It is an organ, a survival tool that keeps our bodies going. The brain is a problem-solving machine, and it seeks problems to solve. When we treat the brain as a god, instead of as a tool, our emotional and mental life becomes saturated with problems.
Just as the ancients brought burnt sacrifices to feed their gods, some of us bring sacrifices in the form of problems to feed our brains. As in any other religion, we consider it moral and necessary to bring a steady stream of sacrifices to our "god." We develop a pious attitude and consider it more realistic and sophisticated to be cynical, focused on problems. Even those lucky people who aren't cynical by temperament feel obligated to suffer with others. We sacrifice our natural state of bliss.
But here's what I know today. Our outer experience follows our thoughts, and not the other way around. Our attitudes and beliefs have the power to alter our experiences. So the development of a positive attitude in any circumstance is a very sophisticated response to experiences that are unhappy in any way.
We create our experience of the world, but we don't do it alone. There are over six billion people on this planet, all with the gift and responsibility of free will. So we don't single-handedly control all the experiences that come our way, but we always have a choice about how we respond to them. Our response has the power to transform a "negative" into a positive.
An old story that illustrates this point is the one about Joseph and his brothers. Joseph was the 11th of 12 sons, the favorite of his father, and he had dreams of glory. In fact, he dreamed that his brothers would someday bow down to him. When they heard this, his jealous brothers became furious and sold Joseph into slavery. He ended up in Egypt, where he still paid attention to dreams. In fact, he interpreted Pharaoh's dream about a coming famine, so he was given a position of high honor and responsibility. Joseph prepared the land for famine and was able to provide for his family when the famine affected them. His brothers still lived in remorse for what they had done. When Joseph revealed himself to them, he said, "Do not be angry with yourselves. You may have meant it for evil, but God meant it for good." By focusing his thoughts positively, rather than reveling in resentment and bitterness, Joseph created good.
Taking a >positive attitude is the most realistic way you can go. By using a positive attitude, you can real-ize, or make real, the good you want to bring to life. This is not a discipline for the timid. You have to be willing to give up the sophomoric pleasures of cynicism, resentment, and bitterness. Once you really "get it" that whatever you focus on grows, you use the power of your mind to cultivate a positive attitude.
Feel free to share this article in its entirety. Please include the "about the author" section, with links.