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RISMedia, May 21, 2011— (MCT)—We hear the term “positive thinking” and you might picture a group of hippies chanting mantras around a bonfire. But, positive thinking isn’t just for hippies; it’s for anyone trying desperately to arrive at the other side of a stressful situation with their sanity intact. When your spouse comes to you and wants a divorce, when your baby goes away to college or when your paycheck as a single parent isn’t going to pay the electric bill this month, positive thinking can go a long way in keeping the panicked feelings at bay.

Positive thinking is not something that comes automatically but rather requires time and practice. You wouldn’t go out and run a 5K without ever having run before, or open your mouth expecting to hear a foreign language without ever learning one. Of course not. You’d spend time studying, practicing and building up endurance. The same is true of positive thinking. Sitting in the midst of a crisis with a blank smile on your face, repeating “It’s going to be fine,” is not positive thinking—that’s unrealistic. Ignoring difficulties or issues that arise, believing that they will magically disappear, is not practical thinking—that’s denial.

Positive thinking means bringing into your mind thoughts of success and growth: a mental process that expects good results. It means walking into any situation expecting that the outcome is going to further your levels of happiness, joy, and mental and emotional health. It’s amazing the power that the mind has over the body. Positive thinking has the ability to transform a negative situation into a positive one—for you and for those around you.

Positive people continually expect the best in a situation and believe that circumstances and people can change, but they don’t sit back expecting it to happen miraculously. They take that positive energy and use it to search for solutions and opportunities to improve their situations. They refuse to blame others for their problems and take responsibility for their own happiness and satisfaction. Positive thinking involves realizing that nothing productive comes from dwelling on the negative aspects of a situation. Worrying about something will not change the circumstance or the outcome; you must take control of your own thoughts and behaviors.

Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D., points out in her book Positivity how she realized that positive thinking doesn’t mean ignoring the negative and sad emotions during a trying time. Everyone is going to feel sad or worrisome when going through a traumatic event such as an illness, divorce, death and so on. However, positive thinking allows you to see both sides of the situation without the sad emotions taking over.

It allows you to see the positive things that happen during the trying times and focus on them for positive strength. Fredrickson explains in her book how positive thinking is not explained by superficial mantras like “grin and bear it” or “don’t worry, be happy,” but instead pushes you to experience deeper emotions like joy, love, hope and gratitude. It is impossible to consistently control external situations, but you can control how you allow them to affect you internally and emotionally.

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