PEOPLE have told me they dislike trying to think positive because
it feels forced and phony. They say things to themselves they
dont really believe and it doesnt seem to make much
difference. Saying these positive things doesnt really
make them feel any better.
I think cognitive psychology has made an
important contribution to this discussion. Theyve come
up with a kind of anti-negativity process. It is arguing with
negative thoughts. Finding mistakes in negative explanations.
This is what I've called The Antivirus For Your Mind.
And since you already feel negative when
you start doing this, it is fairly easy to do something negative,
like find mistakes in your negative thoughts, to criticize your
thoughts, to argue with your thoughts.
On the other hand, it is exceedingly difficult
to say or believe something positive when you feel so negative.
After doing a little antivirus for the
mind, you have lifted some of your bad feelings, so you are in
a better frame of mind to do something more positive, like practicing slotras.
Slotralogy is different than positive thinking, although,
of course, there is some overlap. The thoughts youre practicing
dont necessarily have to be positive or cheery. The purpose
is not only to make you feel positive, but to direct your attention
in a good direction. When Dougal
Robertson said to himself, We must get these boys to land, he
said it with a kind of grim determination, not cheerfulness or
enthusiasm. He would have had to fake any enthusiasm, and it
was unnecessary. Grim determination worked just fine and it was
way better than despair.
Nelson Mandela describes
himself as an optimist. Not a perpetually cheery person, but
one who keeps ones head pointed toward the sun, ones
feet moving forward. I like that definition. There
were many dark moments, wrote Mandela, when my faith
in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not
give myself up to despair. That way lay defeat and death.
Notice that he didnt give himself
up to despair, not because he was naturally boyant. His refusal
to sink into despair was a decision. He saw the practical
implications of directing his mind deliberately, and used it.
Most survivors of trying conditions, and most successful people
do the same.
Al Siebert, author of the The Survivor Personality, puts it this way,
The will to live is different from hopefulness or optimism.
The survivors I have interviewed have not talked about being
sustained by hope. They are sustained by their determination,
grim or not.
One of the reasons optimism is so powerful
is that it is a self-fulfilling prophesy. Or at least it has
a tendency to become self-fulfilling. Assume something
is changeable, assume you can do it, and youre more
motivated to try than if you assume you cant or that it
When Jim Carrey first decided to become a comedian,
his father, Percy, helped him out. Percy played the saxaphone
when he was younger and dreamed of playing it for a vocation,
but he gave it up to become an accountant.
Now he didnt want Jim to give up
his dream. Jim says of his father, He taught me its
better to go after something special and risk starving to death
than to surrender.
When he was only 15, Percy managed to get
Jim an opportunity to try his talent on stage. In a Toronto comedy
club, dressed in a yellow polyester suit his mom bought for him,
Jim had his first experience entertaining people. It was a nightmare.
The emcee made Jim the entertainment by making fun of
him the whole time Jim was trying to do his bit.
Jim Carrey, who went on to become one of
the most successful entertainers of his time, was so demoralized
by this experience, he didnt try again for two years.
I have no idea what motivated me
to try again, he said, I just felt like giving it
a shot. Failure isnt the end unless you give up.
Although Jim may not realize what movivated
him to try again, he reveals in that last sentence a principle,
a statement, a belief that encourages persistence. It would make
an excellent slotra. If youre experiencing a setback, try
practicing this thought: Failure isnt the end unless you give up.
Read the next chapter: Love
is a Great Motivator
This article is part of a series on Slotralogy.
Read the first section here: Slotralogy