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Positive Thinking – Possibility Thinking

March 24, 2009

Just came across a question: What is positive thinking and possibility thinking ? Is there any difference between these two school of thoughts ?

And realized that while it seems like such a simple question about something very simple, it has a very powerful impact on how we live our lives.

The two terms are very different and yet related. Even though they mean different things, one cannot exist without the other! Interesting, since I never saw them together like this, I never saw this link!

Positive thinking is the mindset and ability to avoid negativism, to use affirmation at all times, to rise above negativity.

For example, when the economy tanked, positive thinkers would have looked at the situation and said “There must be tremendous opportunity here”, “All is not lost, this will make us stronger”, “What a wonderful time to examine operational efficiencies and get leaner” – These are all examples of POSITIVE Thinking.

Possibility Thinking is the ACTION you embark on post positive thinking. Possibility thinkers will say “OK let’s examine the weak spots here, that we can break through”, “What’s the low hanging fruit here”, “What is it that others are not doing which we can do” “Let’s focus our energies inside instead of outside and find areas where we can save more time/money/material”

It is only after “There has to be a way to make money even in this situation” (which is a positive thought), that you make the next step of “Where is the sweet spot? What’s the low hanging fruit here? Which business segment have we not focussed on ’til today, which we can now open up? Who in this economy is still doing well, and hence are potential customers?”

Negative thinking like “This is an unknown and too dark.” will result in an action that does not seek but chooses to wait out “Let’s not take any risks right now.”

Negative thinking will result in either inaction (because you don’t believe there is anything to move for) or in action that moves backwards (moving into a defensive/protective/retreating/preserving action)

So positive thinking really is about not giving up mentally. About continuing to believe that there are opportunities.


Possibility Thinking is about finding those opportunities. Taking action. Moving towards. It’s not easy as it sounds though!

When your thought says, there has to be a way, then your brain automatically applies itself to that orientation, that challenge and gets into seeking mode to find a way. Conversely, when you give up and believe there is no alternative, there is no trigger or command to the brain to find an alternative. Rather it is an acceptance of status quo and a giving up, that leads to inaction.

Positive people,as a result are happier, more successful and have their way in the world.

Easy to write, but not easy to do. All of this is about the language we speak to ourselves minute to minute and especially in difficult situations. And this language is acquired in our early years, and hence we grow up with it, and by the time you discover it, it is so entrenched that it is difficult to change.

Much of it is learned in childhood and much of the programming happens as a result of the way we have been spoken to, the phrases we heard constantly, the messages we received etc. So it behoves us to be careful of the same when we’re bringing up our children.

Research has shown that most people are influenced the most by their first boss/supervisor. So here too, it is important to be careful about the role model we provide to newcomers, for they are getting conditioned/programmed by the language they hear and the thinking they experience.

The ability to notice this language within, and then to modify it to be positive is the first step to change. It is a difficult change but NOT an impossible change. Strange how often we misuse those 2 words. Very often when instead of difficult, we use the word impossible, it’s a clear example of negative thinking! Because if something is not possible, then there is no point attempting it is there? And you’d be surprised how often this happens unconsciously. Next time, try to catch it!

The best advice and techniques I have found, to help me to be more self-aware and make changes to the way I thnik and speak to myself, are from the book “Practicing the Power of Now” by Eckart Tolle

One Comment leave one →
  1. Shivkumar Iyer permalink
    July 1, 2009 9:08 pm

    Excellent definitions.

    I think the challenge to keep your mind & brain positive is not to be carried away by situations & circumstances which demotivate us. To do so one has to identify “controllable” and “uncontrollable” factors and put your effort on things that can be controlled.

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