My husband says there were two books that changed his life: “The Secret” and Mind Power Into the 21st Century: Techniques to Harness the Astounding Powers of Thought. Both books are about positive thinking. They teach the importance of thinking good thoughts, and also claim that you can have anything you want.
YOU CAN HAVE ANYTHING YOU WANT
When people read “The Secret” and get to “you can have anything you want,” many people think “WHAT?! Anyone can have anything they want?! Bullshit!”
This kind of answer is the wrong one, folks, so if you fall into that category, start changing your thinking. Trust me, your life will take a turn for the better! I used to be that kind of person and my life sucked… until I changed. After all, it’s pretty grim to believe that you can’t have anything you want. Plus it gives you an excuse to pass on a bunch of opportunities and just do nothing.
But there is a second group of people who, when they read they can have anything they want, they say: “WHAT?! Anyone can have anything they want?! (…) What do I have to do?”
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO?
“The Secret” says that all you need to do is make a wish for the thing you want. It asks you to imagine that you already have the thing you wished for, that it’s already happened. And you have to really believe that you will have it.
But there are people who disagree:
The quote is from a book I’m a big fan of: “The Money Code.” Full title is The Money Code: Become a Millionaire With the Ancient Jewish Code, and this is a book I highly recommend.
So, now we are confused. What should we believe?
IS THINKING ALONE ENOUGH?
No. Thinking alone is not enough. If you just sit on your ass all day and all you do is “wish” to become a millionaire, it’s not gonna happen. You might as well sit in your chair eating chocolate and “wish” to magically become super-fit and sexy. No matter how hard you “visualize” being sexy, imaginary exercise only burns imaginary calories. It’s naive to expect that your thoughts alone can change your reality when your actions are not in accordance with your thoughts.
BUT, it’s a whole different deal if you decide to align your actions with your thoughts.
Let’s say you wish for more money. If you just lay in your bed, stare at the ceiling and repeat “I want to be a millionaire,” it’s not gonan happen. But if you break your big goal (“I want to be a millionaire”) into smaller, more realistic goals, your life will start changing. A smaller goal could be “I need to make some extra money” or “I need to find a way to earn a twenty on the side.” If you repeat the smaller thoughts often enough, those thoughts will very likely bring you to take some action.
(Hint: if you want more money in your life, it doesn’t necessarily have to be earned. You could just get it. There are plenty of ways to get money that don’t require working.)
Positive thinking is not about idle wishing. Positive thinking is about your outlook on the world and about being more confident in yourself. It is a tool. The thoughts you focus on are eventually going to voice themselves to other people. When something’s on your mind a lot and you’re constantly thinking about it, you are prone to speak to others about it. And speaking to others about it is a good thing. That way you make your wishes more real to the world – more valid. The more people know about your wish, the more likely it is that someone will offer you help. Or information. Or stir up a new idea in your head. Or introduce you to someone else who could help you achieve your goal. But if you keep quiet and never speak about it, you likely won’t get any help because other people wouldn’t know that you need it.
There is also a psychological aspect to saying your wish out loud. First, if you want something but don’t dare to say it out loud (“I like money; I want to be a millionaire”) that means you’re scared to admit your wish. In turn, that indicates you are scared of being judged, which means you are somehow ashamed of your wish. And we are only ashamed of things we believe to be wrong.
If you have a wish you can’t admit to other people, it usually means that deep down, you think there’s something wrong with it and that bottom line, you shouldn’t have it. This is pretty common with money – many people say they want to have money but deep down they feel that money’s bad and rich people are bad people. Or they think there’s something noble in poverty.
Often, people are able to sigh and say “oh how I wish I had more money” to themselves or their loved one or their closest friend – while at the same time they don’t feel comfortable saying it out loud in a broader social setting out of fear they’ll be judged. That means that deep down, they think their wish is wrong. And it’s often not their fault – it’s just how they were brought up. (More about that in my Forbes article here: Are you afraid to earn more?)
Do you have any “secret” wishes that you’re not ready to admit or speak about? Think about that. It could be really helpful to you in finding out whether you have any crippling beliefs that are sabotaging your wish.
BUT I’M TOO POOR FOR “POSITIVE THINKING”. MY LIFE’S TOO HARD!
I’ve been there. I’ve had times in my life when I was broke, stressed out, and miserable. There was no way I was going to buy into that “positive thinking” bullshit.
The book said, close your eyes and imagine you already have all the things you dream of, soak in how that feels. One exercise said close your eyes and vividly imagine your own two hands – with your watch on them, the shape of your fingernails, every little crease. Now imagine your hands on the wheel of a brand new Ferrari, it said.
Imagine I already own a Ferrari? Haha! I couldn’t even imagine buying an extra pair of socks! I couldn’t just “trick” myself into believing I could own a Ferrari. Nice try, fellas.
It’s hard to stay positive when your life suddenly starts to suck. Like when you lose your job (which you’ve had for eight years) and now you suddenly can’t make the mortgage payment.
If you’re feeling beaten up and mopy, you can’t just pin a smile on your face and pretend everything’s peachy. It’s okay to feel a little worried. What is NOT okay is to dwell on this little misfortune. You know, when some people step in a dogpoop, they go like this: “Oh, great. This is just… great. Dog poop. Of all the people who walk on the road, it’s me who steps in the dog poop. Well, figures. Sigh. Oh, if only I hadn’t stepped in it. Why did this happen to me? Not fair. Boy, that smell is awful and now my shoes are smeared in dog poop. Gosh this is awful.” And so on, and so on.
Keeping your head down forces you to only see the dogpoop you just stepped in. Keeping you head UP forces you to look ahead, and see that the dogpoop is just one little piece of shit on the big, wide road ahead of you. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you can move away from the dogpoop. Then you can move to a different category of people – the type who just say “Oh shit, I stepped in dog poop!” then just quickly wipe their foot in the grass and hurry up ahead. They don’t waste time thinking about why this happened to them or what caused them to step in the poop or what could have been if they hadn’t stepped in it. They know all of that is pointless. What’s done is done, pal, so let’s wipe ourselves clean and move on.
When you are in a bad situation, the most important thing is to move on. In order to do that, you will need to focus on small steps. Small changes, not big ones. Small efforts. I’ve found this is the best tactic when you want to get over something – and that’s how I moved on after my dad died. Remember: small steps, small changes. Small goals.
Once you get out of “the dead zone” and your life starts to suck a little less, you can work on getting to the next stage. Eventually you will reach a stage where you feel good about your life, and that’s when you can start using positive thinking for real. (Want to be rich? Think money!)
DOES POSITIVE THINKING REALLY WORK?
Yes, it does. If you know the right way to use it.
Positive thinking is a powerful tool but it’s a little more complicated than just imagining stuff in your head and then waiting for it to drop in your lap. Some people use it the wrong way and get the false impression that it doesn’t work. (Been there, done that!) It does work, but you need to train yourself how to do it right. Much like the Jedi need to be trained how to use The Force. :)
Here are a few things you need to know about positive thinking:
1) start with a small wish
2) think about your wish often
3) speak about your wish to others
4) take action. You will fail, probably several times, but that doesn’t matter. Failing is a natural part of the process. Also failing is how you start improving.
5) turn positive thinking into a habit
6) have patience – it will take time before you get your wish, from several months to several years, depending on how big your goal is
7) surround yourself with people who already have what you want (money, confidence, a relationship) – people you want to be like – and avoid naysayers
These are the seven principles I’ve found so far.
So put on your training outfit, Jedi! And may The Force be with you.