Saturday, June 14, 2014

Positive Thought Experiments II

In Positive Thought Experiments, I shared my belief in the positive effects of thinking positively.

I take responsibility for what I am thinking and for what thoughts I allow into my mind. I focus on positive literature and humor and believe that a few silly lines and cartoons have more transformational power than the analysis of split second flash negativity. 

When I encounter a negative thought, it's this focused awareness on the positive that allows me to repel it. I don't focus on what I am not or what I cannot do. Instead, I am a humor archaeologist uncovering positivity wherever I can find it. 

Positive thought experiments wipe the slate clean of negativity in your environment. And while negativity still can arise, this positive magic wand when waved over any thought can help you sort out what is important so you can focus on what really matters. 

Since we can have only one thought at a time, 
I strive to make it a good one. 


Interestingly enough, in the psychology of prediction, people's predictions tend to be optimistically biased (So, I'm not the only one out here inclining toward positive outcomes.). In general, people assign "higher probabilities to their attainment of desirable outcomes than either objective criteria or logical analysis warrants" (David A. Armor and Shelly E. Taylor, When Predictions Fail: The Dilemma of Unrealistic Optimism). "Yet the very prevalence of optimistic biases presents an intriguing dilemma: Given that many of the decisions people make, most of their choices, and virtually all plans are based on expectations about the future, it would seem imperative that people's predictions and expectations be free from bias." If the majority of predictions, expectations and performance-relevant perceptions are optimistically biased, how can people make appropriate decisions, or choose effective courses of action?" 

Well, let's see, shall we? 

Just because an individual is prone to optimistic biases, does not mean that they do not later sit down to evaluate those judgments. 

Take the proverbial To-Do List: 

One of the things I like about this list is that is organizes goals and activities in relation to maintaining a healthy balance. The list already sets one up for personal success (staying hydrated, rewarding the body with physical movement, responding to people who wish to hear from us, de-cluttering our environment to minimize tension). Why have a To-Do list that doesn't remind us of the things we'd like to accomplish and do for ourselves while keeping track of our responsibilities? 

In my mind, this is an example of a Positive To-Do List, a helpful reminder that keeps us on track toward achieving our happiest outcomes. A positive perspective combined with a Positive To-Do List (or Attainment Sheet) increases the probability that we will attain that which we desire. 

Liberating Imagination (2014)
Soph Laugh

Goals Begins With Dreams

In order to achieve our goals, we must first dream or imagine what it is we wish to accomplish. Once we have imagined what we would like to achieve, the second step is to write down or somehow articulate that goal. If, after we have written down our goal, we can imagine ourself receiving it, then this is when we begin strategizing. 

Strategy is that part of the attainment process whereby we think about all the things we might need to do or things we might need to possess in order to position ourself in front of our goal. Opportunities arise the more we do something. 

For example, I wanted to write a book, but I did not have time with my career and lifestyle to sit down and give my full-attention to the enterprise. So, instead, I began a blog. Doing so has helped me improve my writing skills, given me a perspective as to what others enjoy reading, and also built an audience. The result - improved writing skills, a clear direction, and an audience - translates into a higher probability that a publisher will someday consider a book proposal than had I waited until the timing was right for me to write a book. Once the timing is right for me, I have positioned myself to take advantage of opportunities that would not have existed otherwise. 

This scenario is the same for an athlete. An athlete practices every day, for years; reads about their sport, adjusts their lifestyle to accommodate their sport, and eventually tries out for a team or enters a competition. Whether or not they win or make it to the Olympics, for example, is a culmination of preparedness, desire, talent, and perhaps a little luck. 

For the athlete (blogger, writer, artist, mathematician, scientist, etc.) who positions themselves "on the front line of their dreams", no doubt there was first a foundation of dreaming that filtered into their imagination, that flooded their daily thoughts, that made their way onto their To-Do List, that got done, that positioned them closer to opportunities, that opened doors that they so deeply desired to enter.

Even if the results of our efforts do not look entirely like how we first imagined or dreamed them to be, the likelihood is that we are now somewhere in the mix, actively participating in the activities that make us happy, that fill our thoughts and dreams with new thoughts and dreams. This, from my perspective, is living the life, as they say. It is doing the things that make us happiest. It is turning positive biases into happy outcomes. 

Dreams Change

Sometimes we dream one dream only to discover a bigger one. Take for example my above-mentioned blogging-in-order-to-someday-write-a-book dream. Three years into blogging and I have discovered that I actually enjoy blogging for the sake of blogging. I simply enjoy writing. It is relaxing. It helps me organize my random or stray thoughts. Blogging gives me something fun or interesting to sit down and think about without the pressures associated with editing, formatting, and publisher hunting and negotiations, and it will someday make a wonderful gift to leave to my children. And the best part... I did not have to publish a book to become a writer. 

Dream achieved. 

New Dreams

I am a highly visual person. The amount of pictures that accompany my writing reflects this fact. For reasons I have shared previously, I began drawing about two years ago. Having drawn extensively as a child, art was a familiar and welcomed activity. Given that art preservation transitioned from an interest, to an aspect of my career, to a passion; creating my own art has resulted a very satisfying and highly personal link to that which captivates my thoughts.

Walking down the streets of Paris with my children I remarked how much I would love to have my own gallery. Given that we were surrounded by galleries, I said this so many times that I said to myself, "It's time to do something about this." 

I sat down and wrote out a strategic plan in order to achieve my goal. Then, some things in our lives changed and we returned to the Americas. Given that we will be in the Americas for a few years to accomplish long-term goals we had previously established for ourselves, I started wondering exactly when it would be that I would be able to open my own gallery. I was starting to think it might be years before it would happen. 

Then as I walked through my home I realized how many paintings already adorned the walls. The east corridor where we first began hanging paintings turned into two corridors of paintings, which migrated up the staircase, which made their way into the service rooms, which began seeping into the main rooms, which now adorn the hearth, a few of which are stacked in the butler's pantry, others are hung in the kitchen nook, still others cover nearly every available square inch of my library, more hang in hallways, some hang in bathrooms, others hang in the bedrooms, and so on. 

I realized that I already have a gallery. I turned my home into a gallery. With mural projects in the making, I realized that I have turned my entire home into a giant canvas. 

My dream of having my own gallery morphed into transforming my home into a personal gallery. My dream of becoming a published writer resulted in my publishing my writing in a blog. Okay, slightly different than I imagined, but a great "in the making" story. 

This story has three revelations: 

  1. Whether or not we get paid for our efforts is entirely a matter of industry.
  2. The outcomes of our dreams are not limited to the initial dreams we imagine achieving. 
  3. Dreams are the little things we do each day toward achieving our goals. 

Whatever it is you dream for yourself, I highly recommend experimenting with positive thinking processes. If acting, singing, publishing, becoming famous or outrageously wealthy is your main dream, then the likelihood is you will achieve a percentage (if not all) of that which you seek. Until we begin actively working towards our dreams will we meet them. 

A philosopher might say:

"Meeting our dreams is one of the ways in which we discover ourselves." 

For me, this creative enterprise began with a promise to discover myself. Three years later, I am discovering more than I imagined. 

Fortunately, for all of us, our dreams are not limited to what we imagine today ~ instead, they are a flourishing of who we become along the way. 

No comments: