1. How to Create a Positive Action Mindset

    June 11, 2013

    positive thinking

    by Ryan Rivera

    It’s become an increasingly difficult world. People tend to focus on the negative side of living, and that negative thinking causes not only worsen their quality of life – it also translates to a lack of action. After all, if the world is seen as a negative place, what is the point of achievement and goal setting? What would be the benefit of working hard?

    Of course, this becomes a self-fulfilling issue. If you’re not taking action in your life, you’re not going to achieve anything, and the world really is going to be a more negative place (thus reinforcing your beliefs). If you really want to make very real life change, you need to be able to motivate yourself into not only a positive mindset, but a positive action mindset – a mindset that is actively working towards completing goals and making your life better.

    Combatting Years of Negative Thinking

    Of course, in some ways this is easier said than done. After all, it’s very hard for people to break their own thought habits. Those that are used to looking for the negatives are usually going to find them while blocking out all of the positive things. Regaining that positive mindset takes time and commitment.

    But there are some strategies that can help. Consider all of the following:

    • Fake Positivity

    Perhaps the best activity to try is faking positivity. Pretend that you are an actor in a play that has to pretend to be a completely and genuinely positive person. What would you do? How would you act?

    The human brain adapts to the mindsets you display outwardly. It’s the reason some actors end up becoming more like someone they played in a movie. The brain doesn’t understand why you’re acting the way you do, so it turns you into that person. Positive mindset pays off and faking positivity can really rub off over time.

    • Never Sit Down

    Remember that one of the things you’re trying to do is take action, not just become positive. When you have chores to do, goals to complete, or things you want done, you need to be able to give yourself the energy to take action. So do your best to avoid sitting still. Always be up and about doing something whenever you can, and if you have nothing to do or need to sit because your feet hurt, try your best to make sure you’re sitting with a purpose – like to complete your bill payments, do art, or otherwise be active.

    • Utilize Technology

    Technology is generally the enemy of action and positivity, often increasing anxiety and stress and decreasing action. But there are ways you can use technology to vastly improve your positivity, productivity, and energy. First, make sure that any time you are using technology – computer, TV, etc. – you’re using it for positive things, like watching humor shows on television (not dramas, reality, horror, etc.) and looking at things that improve your mood and your drive.

    But you can go further. Most people have a smartphone these days. You can schedule in reminders for positive thinking, alarms for taking action, and more. You can use your phone as something that constantly reminds you that you need to enjoy various activities, while programming it with the type of music that gives you energy and motivates you forward. Technology has its downsides, but you can use it in ways that improve your positivity overall.

    • Place Reminders Around Your Home

    Similarly, make it harder for yourself to sit and mope by placing reminders of what you should be doing around your home. Whether it’s post it notes with inspirational phrases or multiple copies of your “to do” list, performing this activity will keep you accountable to yourself, and that can go a long way towards making sure you don’t fall back into the negativity trap.

    Controlling Your Positivity

    Becoming that positive person you’ve always wanted to be is a process. It’s not something that’s going to magically occur overnight, and it’s something that requires a dedication to yourself and your advancements. But everyone can obtain this positive mindset if they’re willing to put in the work. Consider the above tips, and dedicate yourself to true positivity to see a real difference in your life contentment.


  2. The #1 Necessity For A Satisfied Life

    April 19, 2013

    Field of Life

    Image Credit: Paul Esson

    by Don Sturgill

    Sigmund Freud’s pioneering work in psychoanalysis was based on the idea that human beings are primarily motivated by the desire for pleasure.

    Freud’s contemporary, Alfred Adler, argued that pleasure isn’t the root of motivation at all—power is what we really seek.

    Then came the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps and a perspective born from the depths of adversity: Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, said Viktor Frankl, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.

    The one thing necessary

    Our most important need, argued Frankl, is not to please ourselves or to rule over others, but to uncover the true meaning of life—to know why we live and what we should do. And the path to discovering that meaning is to listen to what life is asking of us.

    Both pleasure and power lose their grip when one discovers a “reason why.”

    To his Nazi captors, Viktor Frankl was known only as Prisoner #119104. To those who suffered with him in the concentration camps, though, he was a steady source of encouragement and a reassuring voice of wisdom.

    Many of Frankl’s fellow prisoners harbored bitterness and hatred against those who had imprisoned them for the “crime” of being Jews. But Viktor Frankl decided early on to keep his mind off the daily struggles of his untenable situation. Rather, Frankl endeavored to treat his plight as an “interesting psycho-scientific experiment.”

    He determined to view himself, not as an unfortunate victim of circumstance, but as a doctor with a front-row seat to events most people would only hear about after the fact. He was a participant in something incredible and significant.

    How to tell when someone will soon be dead

    “Why is it,” Frankl asked himself, “that one person perseveres and makes it through—despite the indignation and brutality—when a stronger and younger person may not?”

    By observing his fellow prisoners closely, he discovered how to predict who would be the next to die. None of the men were the picture of physical wellness; they all lived hungry and tired—yet there was one thing that distinguished those who would die from those who would live. Frankl saw a common factor emerge in the mindset of the doomed: They abandoned hope and gave in to despair.

    The will to meaning

    In Man’s Search for Meaning, the book he later wrote to chronicle his experiences in the concentration camps, Frankl made a poignant pronouncement:

    In the final analysis, everything can be taken from us—everything—but for one thing … we always retain the right to choose what we think about what is happening. We can never be forced to relinquish the most precious possession of all—our own mental attitude.

    The person who is able to find meaning in life—the person who sees obstacles as an inevitable part of life rather than as an end to life—is able to transcend even the most difficult circumstance to find a reason to go on living.

    Agreeing with an earlier maxim of Fredrich Nietzsche, Frankl wrote, “Those who have a why to live, can bear with almost any how.”

    An attitude of survival

    The original (German) title of Man’s Search For Meaning was Trotzdem ja zum Leben sagen, or “Still say Yes to Life.” When we say “Yes” to life, in spite of what life brings, we affirm that life is worth living, and we affirm that—in the end—the meaning of life trumps the tragedy of life.

    To lose hope is to deny meaning. It is to say the opposite—that life is not worth living—and, according to Frankl’s observations, those who maintain that line of thought are treading a sure path to an early death.

    What about you and me? Are we strong enough to reach down and hold on to the best of life, even during those black times when the worst of life is our portion?

    Trouble comes to all. Struggles come to all. It is our response, rather than the situation, that determines both our present and our future.

    By holding on to meaning, Frankl found a way to benefit from the unthinkable, to make sweet wine from sour grapes and to grow stronger through adversity.

    What is your “Reason why”? What is your “Yes” to life?

    If we don’t know and remember our answers to those questions, we may be hard-pressed to keep going when life seems cruel and unfair.

    And it will. For all of us.

  3. Does Positive Attitude Assist Healing Process?

    March 1, 2013

    Positive attitude

    Image credit: The Doctr @ Flickr.com

    It’s a debate that has gone on for years, and continues to be discussed by physicians and psychologists. The issue of whether positive thinking affects the medical treatment of patients is one that is hard to resolve. Many patients have seen positive, traceable results when they focused on staying optimistic, but psychologist Richard Sloan, a professor of behavioral psychology at Columbia University Medical Center, says that for every patient who has seen results from positive thinking there may be others who thought the same thing and are no longer alive. That said, public figures such as Lance Armstrong, Gabrielle Giffords, and others attribute a large part of their recoveries from serious illnesses and injuries to their strong spirits.

    Although it’s hard to prove, there have been many cases where a positive outlook showed traceable medical improvement in a patient. This confirms the theory of the placebo effect. The placebo effect is defined as “the measurable, observable, or felt improvement in health not attributable to an actual treatment.” In other words, it is when patients are given sugar pills in place of regular medication, or are told that a medical procedure was done, when in reality it was not done, and a measurable improvement occurs. There have been numerous cases where the placebo effect showed marked improvement in patients’ medical conditions, even though no real medical intervention was being administered.

    In 2007 researchers from the University of British Columbia tested the placebo effect on patients with Parkinson’s disease. They gave one group of patients apomorphine, a drug which mimics dopamine, a chemical in the brain that is deficient in patients with Parkinson’s. They gave the second group a placebo, and they, too, released dopamine, in response to the expectation of receiving medication. This study clearly proved the validity of the placebo effect, and as such, that the mind has a large role in medical treatment of the body.

    While physicians and psychologists will continue to debate the issue, there can be no harm in focusing on a good outcome, and it may actually lead to improved results. Dr. Deepak Chopra is a big believer in the power of the mind when it comes to healing. He explains that one who is at peace with himself can reap the benefits of positive thinking, which can include a decline in high blood pressure, weight, stress levels, and other negative symptoms. In Dr. Chopra’s words in an article for the Huffington Post, “The everyday choices we make affect not only our physical health, but all dimensions of our collective health and well being. This is not to say that pharmaceutical and surgical interventions are not warranted… But looking at them to solve all of our illnesses has made us as a society overlook the powerful self-healing mechanisms within us.”

    The objective of practicing positive thinking is to make use of the healing systems that lie within our bodies to help assist in recovery from various illnesses.

    External factors can help patients maintain a positive attitude. Studies have shown that even the scrubs worn by nurses can help improve patients’ state of mind, which can then help them recover. In a study done on hospitalized children in Florence, a large percentage of the children were more confident in their nurses, and were uplifted when their nurses wore printed or colored Carhartt scrubs. While the donning of Carhartt uniforms is only a small factor in the grand scheme of treatment, everything that contributes to a positive state of mind can help facilitate patient recovery.

    A crucial aspect in keeping patients upbeat is adequate family support. Family and friends who visit often and show the patient that they care can have a marked improvement on treatment, as they will cause an uplift in spirits, which can only lead to good things. Doctors, also, will usually make the effort to visit patients and address their fears before a procedure so that the patient will be calm, and the procedure will go smoothly. A good bedside manner is very important in a doctor, and some patients will choose one doctor over another based on this, because the doctor’s bedside manner will also affect the patient’s attitude.

    The Mayo Clinic strongly recommends that patients should practice positive thinking techniques throughout the day, in order to train themselves to think optimistically. They provide tutorials and exercises for patients to become positive thinkers, in order to facilitate the medical treatment being administered.

    Patients have an array of options to choose from when looking to practice various exercises and techniques that will help them remain upbeat. These may include meditation, hypnosis, spirituality, progressive muscle relaxation, and other methods. The factor that all of these practices share is a focus on a calm, peaceful state of mind, which can go a long way toward helping patients’ medical conditions.

    Whether or not a positive state of mind has a serious affect on patient outcome will continue to be debated, but all the experts agree that when it comes to medicine, only good things can come from positive thinking.


    Josh Weiss is a freelance writer and a believer in the power of positive thinking.