Positive Thinking: Its Benefits and Limitations

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We often hear the mantra that positive thinking is a key to our success and happiness. – It is true that thoughts are of crucial importance in shaping experiences in our life. But, what do we actually mean by positive thinking? When is positive thinking helpful and when is it a hindrance?

What Positive Thinking is Not.

1. Expecting that thoughts alone can bring success.

Good thoughts are important for success. But, Edmund Hilary didn’t climb Mount Everest, just by thinking about it. Combine positive thinking by taking practical steps. Don’t just dream – Act.

2. Ignoring our Weaknesses

We need to develop self confidence and belief in our capacities. But, this should not be mistaken for pride and arrogance. If we feel that we are always right, this is a real mistake. This is not so much positive thinking as arrogant wishful thinking. We need to combine self-confidence with a quiet humility.

3. Expecting People will Behave in a Certain Way

Positive thinking should not assume that we can change someone’s nature just through positive thoughts. We should avoid magnifying people’s weaknesses, but, it is a mistake to feel that we can change someone’s nature through positive thinking. In practise we will always be disappointed. Positive thinking can be used to offer goodwill to others, but, do not expect fundamental change from others.

4. Desire for Great Riches through positive Thinking

George Bernard Shaw said there are 2 tragedies in life “One is to lose your heart’s desire. The other is to gain it” If we feel positive thinking is repeating a mantra like ” I will be rich, i will have loads of money” – Maybe we will get money; but, is this what will give us abiding satisfaction? Positive thinking should be used for our self improvement and not our self aggrandizement

How Positive Thinking can Benefit

1. Have Confidence in Yourself.

If we don’t have self confidence, we will never fulfill our potential. Self confidence means we avoid filling our mind with negative thoughts and doubts. It means we have faith in our capacities. It is also means that we are happy to be who we are, and not try to be somebody else.

2. Seeing the Best in Others.

It is easy to see the faults in other people. Often a person’s faults are their most memorable qualities. However, we should try to bring to the fore the good qualities inherent in other people. This is the best way to bring out the best in others. If we concentrate on their weaknesses they just resent it. Here positive thinking is very helpful, because it helps us be more tolerant and understanding.

Only by our positive thinking,
By our bringing the positive qualities
Of others to the fore,
Will this world be able
To make progress. (1)

Sri Chinmoy

3. Don’t Be suspicious

We live in a suspicious world. But, if we always assume that people are acting from the worst motives, we lose something precious in ourselves. There is an old saying: “A Saint sees everyone else as a saint, a thief looks upon everyone else as a thief” How we view the world is, to some extent, a reflection of ourself. Therefore, we should not project our suspicions onto other people, but, instead be non judgemental. This does not mean we have a blind trust in others. It means we don’t automatically assume a critical mindset. Let us give people the benefit of the doubt, if we are disappointed later, no harm.

4. Gratitude

Gratitude is a wonderful quality which enables us to appreciate the good and beautiful. If we have gratitude we will develop a positive feeling for the world. Gratitude is more than positive thinking, gratitude is our sincere appreciation for other people and other things. It is through gratitude that we can easily avoid a negative frame of mind.

5. A silent Mind

A silent mind creates a very positive vibration. We don’t always need to fill our mind with lots of so called “positive thoughts” – When we cultivate a silent mind, we develop inner peace, which is a very powerful quality. A silent mind enables us to gain focus and an inner inspiration. Therefore, we should take time to silence the mind for a certain period every day. We will find after a period of meditation, positive thinking comes naturally, it doesn’t have to be forced.

Related Post

How to Control Our Thoughts

(1) From 77,000 Service Trees part 15 by Sri Chinmoy

Photo by Tejvan

16 thoughts on “Positive Thinking: Its Benefits and Limitations”

  1. This post is an excellent and simple overview of the pluses and minuses of the philosophy so popular right now due to the success of the book/film “The Secret.” The next time someone asks me what I think of it I will send them to read this article.

  2. Thanks for kind comment Sharani.

    I’ve never even heard of “The Secret” but, I know the idea of positive thinking has become quite popular in recent years.

  3. This is my first visit here, and I feel at home. I especially like your statement: “Positive thinking should be used for our self improvement and not our self aggrandizement.”

    Another quote that moves me is Kathleen Norris’, “We pray not to get what we think we want, but to be changed in ways we can’t imagine.” That gets us out of our preoccupation with “self” and more focused on the fact that “life is more than just about ourselves.” The quote is from your comment on my site, of course. Thanks for coming by and commenting.

  4. Sometimes,positive thinking seems don’t help.With a deep despire inside,you can never expect a positive coming out…So it drops into the fallacy that someone that’s confident and positive won’t need any positive,’cause they have them or they’re of them.While on the other side,those desperate with positive statements to gain some power to make herself/himself more confident and more positive will never get them.So I will say,positve living philosophy is something inherited from yourself.Wasting time reviewing those positive remarks won’t do you a favor when you’re helplessly out of confidence…
    And I’m afraid when that time comes,you’d better to give everything up and wait for your final death.So,the wiser way is not let yourself go this way!

  5. Pingback: Health Blog » Positive Thinking and Its Role in Health
  6. I somehow agree and disagree with you perhaps.

    Nevertheless I like your post. I do not push positive thinking when it’s just idealism with wonderful promises.
    I like p.t. when it’s a fruit of, for example: ‘true spiritual richness’ and it’s opposite: ‘true spiritual poverty’.

    Wish you well !

  7. I really like Tejvan’s articles…they are balanced, not unnecessarily mushy and encourage one to look at everything in a balanced sort of way. I think this is very important especially now when a lot of people seem to be getting carried away with this spirituality business….

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