How Well Does “Positive Thinking” Really Work?

There is a massive wave of inspirational doctrine including psychological advice, coaching, miscellaneous information, quotes, etc. focused on telling people that they alone are liable for their #happiness, #life, and #success.

Theoretically, everyone is solely responsible for themselves and everything in their lives by how they think. If you let go of all negative thinking and consequent feelings and only focus on being happy, grateful and confident, it is theorised that good things will dominate your life.

Also, if something unpleasant happens, it is suggested that you immediately focus on the lesson that you can learn from the situation. Then you are supposed to be grateful for the opportunity and look positively forward as to how you can implement what you have learned.


Who are these aliens dishing out this propaganda? Where did the humans who have feelings and emotions go? Those same persons who feel real love, joy, sadness and grief. The ones who cry real tears of both happiness and sadness and who are proud to have varied dimensions to their personalities.

Now I don’t disagree with the fundamental theory behind all of this hype. The basic theory states that positive action creates positive thoughts which then cause positive feelings. Therefore, if you participate in positive actions you will have more positive thoughts and consequently, feel more positive. Or if you train yourself to look at the positive side of things predominantly then you will have more positive feelings and be a happier person. And so on.


In this world in which we live there are countless things, events and human imperfections that bring negative things into our lives, completely arbitrarily. We have no control over any of this stuff happening to us or when and how they will occur. Then, of course, because we’re human we react with our natural human thoughts and feelings. These initial thoughts and feelings may not be cute or “positive”; they’re not supposed to be; they’re just feelings and reactions.

Depending on many variables like personal experiences, past life situations, current life situations, health, etc., each of us will stay in this “reaction” stage for different amounts of time. Nobody has the right to judge how long somebody else should stay or not stay in this phase. Remember, never judge another person because you have never walked in their shoes.

Another thing that we have to keep in mind is that, as I hinted above, everyone’s life is different and will obviously affect them and their ability of perception. Think of people who were perhaps brought up in abusive homes, those that have suffered from mental illness, those who have suffered terrible losses in their lives, rape victims or people who experienced any number of other life changing experiences.

So yes I do believe that we can all teach ourselves to focus more on the positive side of life and be happier because of it. But I think we need to stop exclusively emphasising this “be positive or nothing attitude” and shaming people who aren’t or can’t be positive and bubbly all the time. The last thing somebody who is feeling down needs is to be made to feel as if they are a failure because they can’t be positive enough to solve all their problems. Let’s show a little more open-mindedness and compassion for our fellow man.

Something that would be positive for people to do is to reach out to those who need it and offer to help them and share some of they’re own positivity.

What do you think about this controversy?