“Your focus becomes your reality,” or so says Liam Neeson’s Jedi to a young Darth Vader in Star Wars Episode 1.
The dialogue noted above is related to the power of positive thinking. This term — which originated as the title of Norman Vincent Peale’s controversial 1952 book — is now the slogan for the self-help movement.
But does it? Does glass-half-full, positive thinking, really matter?
These sort of questions have come to mind as BR seems to have morphed into the 9-year-old version of Tony Robbins.
In the last week or so BR is regularly giving me high fives for effort, calling out such encouragements as “nice try” or “nice one.” He has offered comfort by telling me, “at least you tried.” Unfortunately, there have been some flashes of negativity and a couple of minor meltdowns as well, but I bet even Robbins, Dale Carnegie, and Ekhart Tolle get frustrated once in a while.
My wife and I were discussing our positive little guru the other night. One question arose. What has inspired this?
Now don’t get me (or my wife) wrong. It’s nice to see BR so positive though watching him call out encouragement to the baseball players on the Wii is amusing.
Anyway, we could not answer what has gotten into BR. He did start a social skills camp the other day. The camp’s philosophy is based on the comic book You are a Social Detective by Michelle Garcia Winner, Pamela Crooke and illustrated by Kelly Knopp. The purpose of the book/camp is to help children become good social detectives by using their “eyes, ears, and brains to figure out what others are planning to do next or are presently doing and what they mean by their words and deeds.” (http://www.socialthinking.com/books-products/mental-health) My wife swears these books have helped BR to become more aware socially. I think the camp has had an effect but this ‘everybody-is-a-winner-type attitude’ began before the camp.
But does being positive really matter? Well, Michael F. Schier certainly thinks so. Schier is the co-author of a seminal 1985 study, “Optimism, Coping, and Health: Assessment and Implications of Generalized Outcome Expectancies” in Health Psychology. In an interview from April 20th, 2012 that appeared in The Atlantic, Schier said, “I think it’s now safe to say that optimism is clearly associated with better psychological health, as seen through lower levels of depressed mood, anxiety, and general distress, when facing difficult life circumstances, including situations involving recovery from illness and disease.”
Martin Seligman who wrote a book in 1990 entitled Learned Optimism concurs that there are many benefits to having an optimistic outlook. Seligman says that, “Optimists are higher achievers and have better overall health.” On the other hand, “pessimists are more likely to give up in the face of adversity or to suffer from depression.” Seligman, similarly as Schier, believe that optimists have better coping strategies and are more easily able to overcome setbacks. Most importantly, Seligman believes pessimists can learn to be optimists.
It seems clear there are benefits to having a positive attitude. After all, don’t we all prefer to be around happy people? So while I am uncertain over the exact reason and benefit of BR’s positive attitude, I do enjoy the results. Great job, BR!
I love being positive! It’s so much easier and more fun! I’m very much like BR, with the high fives and the “good job”‘s spouting out of me. Also, T was very praise driven. He responded (and still does) so much better to praise than he did punishment. You should just go with it – maybe it will rub off on the rest of you! 🙂 (Not that you need it…)
The reverse is true, I have a very hard time being around negative people, those that aren’t happy unless they are complaining or even worse are the vampire personalities, those that just suck the life right out of you because they are so negative. Vampire’s are my mortal enemy. (I’ve so always wanted to say that in a normal conversation!!)
I can tell you are a positive person. This trait has been apparent in our exchanges. It is nice to be around such people and like you said the others can be such a drag.
May you escape Vampires who are your mortal enemy. (I figured I would try saying/writing it and see if it was as much fun as you say. Kind of cool.)
What a great post!!
I am glad you like it.
A social skills camp? I have not heard of such a thing but I think my boys (and perhaps even I) could learn something from it. I know I would prefer to be around those who are happy, inspiring, and positive. I bet it is nice to get those high fives and words of encouragement from your son! 🙂
It is nice to have that encouragement. I like seeing him be so positive. It is kind of funny though when he has said good job to the guys on the Wii.
That’s great! I could use a little BR running around my house! I definitely run towards the middle with a slight slant on pessimism all of the time. Maybe I just need someone giving me some Attaboys sometimes!
I also consider myself more middle of the road. I am proud to be a realist. Depending on the topic/day etc, I can sway in either directions.
The attaboys definitely make me feel more optimistic.
I consider myself a student of The Power of Practical Thinking. It took me a long time to recover from learning that good things don’t just happen to good people, and I believe this is a consequence of belief in the power of positive thinking my mother instilled in me as a child. I don’t blame her for trying to make my childhood more positive and certainly for giving me a reason to behave, but I will someday have to breach that road with my daughter (who just turned one) and I hope I’m able to equip her to deal with the world positively, but also practically. But who the heck knows how I’ll feel in 8 years?
I do think there is a certain power in positive thinking. I can’t tell you what that power is. I can tell you that being positive is a good trait, and an attractive trait. The fact that people would want to be around you leads to positive outcomes.
I am a bit like BR, but unfortunately some days I am pessimist, I don’t want to but once in a while it happens! Hubby is very much like BR too, he is always says ‘good job, you did well, proud of you’ 🙂 it’s nice to hear this every day! I am glad BR is like this because happy and encouraging people make your life much better! 🙂
It’s cool that both of you (well, you most of the time) are so positive. I am very inconsistent that way. I agree with you about happy people.
Being positive is great but there is something to be said for giving reality a nod once in a while too. 🙂
I hear you but I would rather be on the positive side and even more so think a child should be in that realm.