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Thursday
Mar292012

Accentuate the Positive

In the 1940s Johnny Mercer wrote the following lyrics to a jazz standard:

You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

400 years ago William Shakespeare wrote a line in the play Hamlet, “Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Throughout history great minds have realized that thoughts are powerful.

Doctors and other learned people in the medical profession now believe that prayer can help a person heal. A person who is seriously ill and has a support group of friends and family praying for them, will heal quicker than someone who doesn’t.

You can take or leave the religious aspect; but if you think about it, a prayer is nothing more than a positive thought. In the act of praying a person makes an affirmation that there will be a desired outcome; if this person believes in the outcome, it is a positive thought.

If there is doubt in the mind of the person praying, it is no longer a positive thought, but a negative one and there will be no desired outcome. Looked at in this light a positive thought is nothing more than an unspoken prayer. A prayer and a positive thought are the exact same thing.

It doesn’t really matter if you believe that some divine power hears a prayer and acts upon it; or you simply believe in the power of positive thinking as Shakespeare did, and believe that “Thinking makes it so.”  

If we can believe these learned doctors who say that prayer or a positive thought can heal someone; then it seems to me it is entirely possible that a negative thought caused the illness or accident in the first place.

There was a saying that popped up sometime in the 1980s; it was “Shit Happens.”  I believe that shit doesn’t just happen, but negative thinking causes shit to happen. Either my own negative thinking or that of someone close to me.

Misfortune can come in many forms; not just illness or accidents. Items of value can get broken, lost or stolen. Relationships end or we can suffer financial losses or hardships.

If someone I know is experiencing a string of bad luck; for example, their car breaks down, they get sick, and their home gets vandalized or broken into, all around the same time.

If I enquire further, I can practically guarantee that there is some other shit going on in their lives, like a divorce, a family dispute or problems with a coworker.  In other words, negative thoughts and negative shit are flying around.

Some people believe that bad luck comes in threes; so if they suffer two misfortunes they are expecting a third. And sure enough there will be a third misfortune, why? Because thinking makes it so. There is rarely a fourth misfortune; because this person firmly believes bad luck only comes in threes.

When I set out on a bike ride it is sometimes difficult not to have the thought, “Will I have an accident, will someone hit me today?” However, I don't worry too much about the occasional negative thought; it is only natural. 

I dismiss the thought immediately and I take comfort that it is not just that “Thinking makes it so,” but it is thinking and believing that gives the thought its power.

Just as praying for someone but not really believing in the outcome turns the positive thought into a negative; thinking a negative thought but at the same time not believing it, the negative will not occur.

I take Johnny Mercer’s advice and “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.” I accentuate the positive by considering my odds of staying safe are enormous when compared to the odds I will have a mishap.

By riding defensively and staying alert, I increase my odds of not being hit. If I accentuate the positive, I automatically eliminate the negative.

Do you have any little tricks to stay positive, that you would like to share?

 

                         

Reader Comments (18)

Choose to have thoughts of yourself as intelligent and you will be. Think of yourself as confident and successful, and you will be.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFrenscher

A thoughtful post, and it does seem that negative thinking results in generally bad outcomes. However, you say:

Doctors and other learned people in the medical profession now believe that prayer can help a person heal.

Actually, it seems the opposite is true.
an article about some studies

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave

My strategy is to smile. Even when I least feel like it, I try to find something/someone on which to turn a totally abandoned, megawatt smile. Want to totally flummox that a*hole who aggressively cut you off at a light, give them a heck of a smile. If nothing else you'll trigger that person's mirror neurons in a way that is totally inconsistent with their feelings. There's a fair bit of science behind the act of smiling. Even when you don't think you feel like it, the simple act of actively choosing to smile can change the way you feel, and change the way people around you / in contact with you feel.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbystander

http://www.skepdic.com/essays/healingprayer1.html
others would disagree with you.
Life is surprisingly random and it is a human trait to see patterns where there are none and to read meaning into things where there is none. And I'm not being negative.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpeter

Peter,
I did say you can take or leave the religious aspect. I simply observe that negative thinking people tend to be unhappy, they live their lives in constant turmoil and all kinds of bad luck and misfortune follow them around.
On the other hand positive thinking people are happy and content and their lives run smoothly for the most part. I know which group would I rather hang out with?
Sure life is a string of random events; but within that I would hate to think that I have absolutely no control over my day to day existence.
Dave

March 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Dave you write "A prayer and a positive thought are the exact same thing."
Yes and no. Thoughts do have real energy that has a real effect on the world, as you say (in slightly different words). A prayer goes beyond a "regular" positive thought in that it acknowledges a source of energy beyond one's self. In this shift is huge energy difference. The power of prayers is huge-number-of-times bigger than the power of "regular" positive thoughts. For example:
"This ride I'm just starting will be free of accidents, I will meet only positive drivers, and I will be nice to others on the road." This is a positive thought. Important, for sure, but not as energized as the following prayer on the same theme:
"Thank you God/Divine Love/Love/Light/Allah/Christ for my ride being free of accidents, for meeting only positive drivers, and for your guidance so I am nice to others on the road." This prayers is zillion-times more powerful than the previous postive thought, because it acknowledges the source of energy, of life, as well.
The first positive thought could have been said by some egoistic person.
The prayer was said by a person with humility, by someone who acknowledges the source of life. Please note that all the 12-step spritiual/healing programs that have helped lots of people to heal out of addictions and other problems acknowledge a source of life beyond the person's self. Thus, there is a big energy difference between a positive thought and a prayer.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMicheal Blue

Micheal,
A prayer is only a zillion times stronger if you believe it is. That's how it works, if a person doesn't believe it won't help simply reciting some words. I happen to think a positive thought is the same thing, it is what works for me. And isn't that the important thing, there is room for all belief systems. My belief system does not harm anyone, and nether does yours, or Peter's for that matter. It only causes conflict when we each try to impose our beliefs on others.
Dave

March 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

I'm not superstitious (religious belief is no different to any other strongly held superstitious belief), but a positive attitude never hurt anyone! I think you might be confusing good situational awareness with positive thinking though.

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlemmiwinks

lemmiwinks,
I laid out my beliefs here several years ago; I am a devout heathen.
On the subject of positive thinking; when positive thoughts bring about the desired outcome time and time again it tends to make one a believer. I cannot prove this to anyone else, it is up to others to try it if they so desire.
Dave

March 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Resubmitting... might have said a naughty earlier that got me put in moderation.

My strategy is to smile. Even when I least feel like it, I try to find something/someone on which to turn a totally abandoned, megawatt smile. Want to totally flummox that idiot who aggressively cut you off at a light, give them a heck of a smile. If nothing else you'll trigger that person's mirror neurons in a way that is totally inconsistent with their feelings. There's a fair bit of science behind the act of smiling. Even when you don't think you feel like it, the simple act of actively choosing to smile can change the way you feel, and change the way people around you / in contact with you feel. Which in turn can change how they respond to you. Who knew that smiling makes other judge the person smiling as competent?

March 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbystander

I'm with Michael on this one. Prayer is a lot more than positive thought; it is a conversation wth God that entails both speaking and listening, and can go well beyond making a request. It is OK to express doubts to God, otherwise, why would we seek comfort from Him when faced with adversity?
As for the power of positive thoughts, I agree that they can have a powerful effect.

March 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdoc

I don't think that positive thinking comes into play until after the fact.
Positive/negative thoughts don't bring about the good or bad thing, the thoughts affect how we react to the occurance.

If I'm out on the bike and am hit by a car, I can start whining about my broken arm and how am I gonna shower and everything hurts and woe is me. Negative

Or I can look at my arm in the cast and be damned happy not to have been killed by that sumbitch. Positive

Misfortune falls on all of us, and all the positive thoughts in the world ain't gonna change that. But the ability to find the good in the bad is the gift of the positive thought.

March 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTony P.

Why would I lie to you? I have nothing to sell. Instead of completely dismissing something and saying it isn’t so; why not keep an open mind. Start small; when looking for a parking place, think positive and see if parking places start to open up for you.

When frantically looking for your car keys or something else you have misplaced. Stop looking and quietly say to yourself, “Show me where my car keys are.” Who are you asking? It doesn’t matter; you are asking your own mind if you wish. The mind is a powerful instrument, within it is the answer to any question you care to ask.
Dave

PS. Anyone interested in reading previous pieces along the lines of this one can click on the "Self Awareness" tag at the bottom of this article.

March 31, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Lateral thinking allows one to contemplate possibilities, works for me. The mind on a bike can be a very zen moment.

March 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterofoab

"If there is doubt in the mind of the person praying, it is no longer a positive thought, but a negative one and there will be no desired outcome."

I'm pretty sure that placebo doesn't work that way.

March 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSmoketoomuch

Had a major relationship bust-up in '82. At the time I was bicycle commuting an hour across Sydney. All I know is it (cycling), kept me sane. The power of positive pedalling, rather than positive thinking. The interaction between the unavoidable and how one deals with the unexpected... complex, to say the least.
But thinking positively/laterally will certainly affect the outcome, after luck (good or bad), has played its part.

March 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Smoketoomuch,
Positive thinking is exactly how a placebo works. A person is given a sugar pill and told that it is some miracle drug; the person is cured.
What cured them? The sugar pill, or their own belief that a cure would be forthcoming.
Dave

April 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Thanks for letting us know about this site. That is truly amazing craftsmanship and some great stories. I gave the site and your book a plug on my Facebook page – not like a zillion people will see it there. I like the way you’ve done the blog. Next meeting maybe I can pick your brain a bit on the software you’re using etc. Anyway, nice work.
James

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames H Nicholson

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