The Power of Positive Thought

Just read an amazing post by Seth Godin on his blog titled the “Problem with Positive Thinking”.

Seth says the problem with positive thinking that we don’t think positively more often because it’s harder to think positively than it is to think negatively.

Balloon Juice!

Can you tell I don’t agree with Seth’s premise? Seems to me this is like saying that smoking is just easier to do than not smoking. The logic behind the argument sounds correct but the statement is still based on a flawed assumption that one kind of thinking is more difficult than another because of human nature.

Negative thinking is a learned behavior and has become a habit through a great deal of reinforcement and practice. The pattern has been learned from an early age and is strongly reinforced by family, school and society at large. If the behavior is learned, it can be unlearned (B. F. Skinner and his operant conditioning model of learning theory).

But what really caught my attention was not the postulate that it is easier and more natural to think negatively, but a statement Seth made about the true power of positive thought and I quote,

“Give someone an easy math problem, watch them get it right and then they’ll do better on the ensuing standardized test than someone who just failed a difficult practice test.

No, positive thinking doesn’t allow you to do anything, but it’s been shown over and over again that it improves performance over negative thinking.

Stop a moment and think about that. The person who succeeds on a test question prior to taking a standardized test scores better than “someone who just failed a difficult practice test.

Why? The success and/or failure experience realigns the mind to a ‘set’ of parameters that determines the way it responds to events following the success and/or failure by triggering strong emotional memories of other failure or success events. This change in mind-set realigns the mind to that emotional memory which is based on a belief in probable outcomes.

If the mind has just experienced a success, it realigns with the ‘success set’ parameters and will be primed to use this mind-set to process and understand events until another major shift occurs in the mind-set. Keep in mind that there is a belief upon which any mind-set is based. The belief is probably that success is more plausible than not.

What determines a shift in mind-set? A shift in attention. This shift is preceded by a stimulus that is noticeably different from current ‘background noise’. Perhaps it’s a bright colored insect floating by or the color of the sky, or a startling sound. Anything different from the background noise can ‘grab’ our attention. But the shift occurs when that stimulus is associated with a strong emotion – either positive or negative in nature.

So, when I succeed in solving the easy math problem, I associate that success with other successes I’ve had and I feel more confident about solving the next problem. I believe that I can succeed. But, if I fail a difficult practice test, I then score below my own average score on that same standardized test because I believe I will fail. I’ve now shifted to a failure mind-set. I’m feeling unsure, mentally down about having just failed to answer a difficult question and a little fearful about my ability to solve other problems. Now, I’m more focused on my feelings of sadness, frustration and fear than I am on understanding and solving the next problem. My mind-set  is actually causing me to have a greater chance of failing.

In the first scenario, I’m feeling confident, comfortable and alert and expecting to succeed. In the second, I’m feeling fearful, uncomfortable and unsure of my ability to succeed so I am expecting to fail. I believe that my chance to succeed is lower than my chance to fail.

This leads me back to the positive thinking stuff. If I believe I can succeed, I will succeed more often than not. If I believe I will fail, I will fail more often than not.

So, what I really have to do is change my belief. How can I do that? This is fodder for another blog.

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Weekend results are in

I worked diligently on a few projects around the house and am feeling more than a little smug about having finished a few and started on others.

For starters, I used one of my two ladders to reach the fascia boards on the addon to my house and painted them. Next up, I painted and touched up the trim on the storage building and a couple of the window frames plus painted the front door jamb and painted the inside of my enclosed front porch, then did some furniture rearrangement and general cleanup.

I changed all the curtains in the patio room and the front porch, rearranged some of the items on my small patio. I now have a somewhat private place on my patio to sip my morning coffee and watch the honey bees collect nectar and pollen from the two Rose of Sharon bushes right off my patio.

I’m hoping the yard crew comes early this week since the recent rains have allowed the yard to ‘takeoff’ and grow like it was spring! There is rain in the forecast for Thurs or Friday so that’s why a visit from the yard crew early in the week would be quite helpful.

I now have a smallish pile of items ready to take to Goodwill but am sure this pile will grow over the week and will be more substantial by the end of this week.

I don’t fully comprehend the psychological dynamics that have kicked in here, but I’m feeling more energized and jazzed inspite of my exhaustion from the physical labor that caused me trouble sleeping on Saturday night. Must be something to do with new beginnings and closure. Anyway, the feeling is most gratifying.

I’m reading a book titled “4-Hour-Workweek” by Tim Ferriss. In it, Ferriss challenges us to shake up our ‘accepted but unchallenged’ beliefs about work and time. He’s at it again this morning on his blog. He has taken Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham City Jail and highlighted parts of it to help us overcome our current mindset and start to really question if our way of doing stuff is working for us or not. His blog concerned “How to Respond to Criticism”. I encourage you to take a trek over to his blog and read the entire article. The URL is: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/

No matter what belief I hold about my ‘status quo’, Ferriss rams right into it and challenges me to start asking if this is ‘good enough’ for me or if there might be a better way to see things. Perhaps, it’s for this reason that I feel so inspired to go even further with my home projects.

I broke through my apathy of self-talk that kept saying, “you’re a woman and women don’t do these things. Men do them.” Going ahead and redefining what activities I’m going to allow myself to do or try to do around the house has given me a sense of empowerment. There are things I can do. There are things I am not willing to ‘bone up’ on and will call in professional help. But, for the time being, I can overcome the excess stuff I’m storing in my garage and use this space for something that works better for me. All because I decided to question the belief that home improvement jobs are not a woman’s domain.

What beliefs are you hanging on to that are holding you back?

Our student worker must have lost his way

I’m finished with my training on WordPress and have begun our student worker on the Lynda.com online video training. He comes in from 12p-2pm and then from 3p-5pm. It’s now about 30 minutes past the time he’s usually here.

He either got lost or someone else in the office grabbed him up and set him to work on another project. He’s a really good kid and is very knowledgeable about Internet things.

Maybe, Monday will be a time I can get him back to the videos. He seems to really enjoy the training since he has no tests to take and the concepts are fun and familiar.

Ahhhh! He’s hear and back at it. Someone else had finally released him back to his training. Hooray!

Some ‘added’ posts

I have added another blog which will serve as my business blog and this one will soon become my personal blog so don’t freak out when you see that the header graphic has changed. These updates will be coming soon but not until I have some of my other weekend chores and activities out of the way.

I added some posts from another blog I have on blogger. Although I followed the directions (I think), adding the posts didn’t really turn out the way I thought it would.

Guess what? I have the added posts corrected and added to this blog just as they were originally on blogger. WordPress is such a cool application and has a number of features not available on blogger.

Some of the posts on this blog were ones created during my training on WordPress thru Lynda.com online video training. If you haven’t tried out her site but want to learn more or upgrade your computer skills, Lynda.com is the perfect place to start. Anyway, I will soon replace, update or remove these posts.

The more recent posts are centered around my personal activities, observations and lifestyle. My interests are art, calligraphy, blogging, Internet research, reading and learning about new subjects.

What are your interests? How do you like to spend your time?

It’s Friday!

It’s Friday and I’m looking forward to the weekend. I don’t have anything special planned but will be spending time clearing some accumulated clutter out of my dining area and starting on the garage.

I seem to fight this issue over and over again. This time, I plan to get a few things out of the garage and over to a local thrift shop so I can finally start the clearing out process in the garage itself.

I have some art inventory from a business I ran some years back and am planning to learn a bit more about eBay listing and selling techniques to rid my garage of all these unwanted items that can’t go to a thrift or charity shop.

It will be nice to start on the clearing and cleaning out process. I’m told that it leaves one feeling uplifted and more energized. I’m up for that! And a nice benefit of this is that I will be able to use my garage for parking my car in bad weather. That will be very nice, indeed.

I just thought of another activity I need to get ‘a round tuit’. My enclosed front porch needs some clearing out and cleaning as well as some paint touch ups. I won’t have to water the flower beds since recent (and unexpected but greatly appreciated) rains have accomplished for me.

I seem to plan too much for weekends and then feel really down when there isn’t enough time to get everything finished. This time, I hope not to fall into that trap!

What’s up for your weekend? Whatever you have planned (or not), I hope it goes really well for you.

Just a Quick Note

While learning more about the Dashboard, I decided to drop in a quick note to let you, gentle reader, know that I have not forgotten you. I will return as soon as this training is complete.

Chasing the dream

It seems to matter very much what we set as our dreams and goals. I set mine to become a competent Web Designer and started into a program given through a local Vo-Tech Center to achieve that goal some 18+ months ago. Now that I am finished with that ‘goal’, which was no easy task, I find that I’m a junior Web Designer with just enough know how to know how much I don’t know!

Chasing the dream is an ongoing journey and learning this particular PHP application via the GUI has been a blast. Since I had a small taste of coding a simple blog setup in PHP, it gave me more confidence that I would be able to master this software with little or no problem. With the help of Lynda.com online training videos, I did indeed pick up on the ‘how tos’ more easily and can see why so many people choose WordPress over other blogging tools.

I’m still chasing the dream, though not as fast, but just as determinedly. It will take practice and trials and errors and falling flat on my face a couple of times, but I will become competent. I might even become innovative but haven’t come to that point just yet.

Next up is to start the linking game, the content building game and the completion of upgrading and updating my student marketing site to my personal Web Site. I’m even planning on sharing my Digital Portfolio with the world and adding to it or deleting from it as I go along this path.

I do hope to get much better at the programming part of it and the database part of it, too. But that’s down the road a ways and I’m happily plugging along with the updates, rewrites and redesigns for now.

Does anyone else have a story to tell about their experiences upon exiting the classroom and entering the ‘real world’? If so, share them. Till later, tada…