You're at the head of the class and you notice 3 students near the back fighting to hold back smiles. They're not breaking any rules ...but they are clearly attempting to hide something. Your mind starts spinning. Is my zipper down, is there food on my face?
...Or maybe they are excited because they are already realizing that this is going to be the most fun class they've had all day.
Which one is most likely?
(He checks is zipper) ...MUST be food on my face
Our brains naturally place 5 time as much importance on negative information, thoughts, or ideas as positive. Because of this we naturally think of the negative thoughts as true and the positive thoughts as "head in the clouds" fantasy. Negative thoughts get to be called "realistic" and positive thoughts are dismissed as "idealistic".
I have a generally positive thought pattern and it leads to a fair amount of helpful self-talk. When this shows up in tough life circumstance - my perspective is easily dismissed as just "positive thinking". I've always know that wasn't giving my world-view enough credit, but until a few years ago, i lacked the knowledge to back up my intuition. Now I know - it turns out NONE of the thoughts from the back of the classroom were true. The explanation of the smiles was actually quite benign and I'm not even going to share it because that's not the point.
The point is that my zipper being down and the unnoticed food on my face stories were every bit as much fantasy as the best class ever scenario. Let that sink in for a second - the "let's be real" was 100% fantasy ...imaginary ...once upon time, but my brain made me try and feel good about reality with a pretend story of happiness. What if I never found out that my stories were ALL made up? Wait a minute ...how many times have I not found out that my story was made up? Now it's my turn to play the "realistic" card - ALL the stories are made up.
Some kids were smiling - those were the only facts EVERYTHING after that was manufactured in my imagination. And THAT, my friends, is the difference between powerful thinking and positive thinking. Powerful thinking isn't trying convince your self a positive story is true, it's knowing that the negative story isn't true either.
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