Why Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work & What to Do Instead

Sometimes you wake up in the morning and the outlook is bleak. Maybe you didn’t sleep well, maybe something is on your mind, or maybe you just got up on the wrong side of bed. Whatever the reason, having something tell you to be positive, is probably not what you want to hear. In fact, hearing that will make you feel anything but positive. Instead of forcing yourself into positive thinking, try useful thinking instead.

So what is useful thinking? Let’s have a look at that now.

Useful Thinking Vs. Positive Thinking

If you find yourself in the midst of a challenging situation, simply being positive is not going to help.

Positivity will not help you find the cause and solve your problem. So instead of relying on positive thinking to get you through, try useful belief instead.

Useful thinking allows you to recognise a situation as a crappy one and do something about it. Simply plastering on a smile is not going to fix anything. Instead, you can look at it in a practical sense and ask yourself what is the best you can make of the situation?

By taking the small wins and coming out the other side, you will conquer negativity and work through difficult times. You still end up with a positive outcome, but without the ‘just be happy’ junk!

 

What Is Useful Thinking?

Useful thinking is about being realistic and changing how you look at your world.

It isn’t about a perfect situation of happiness. It is adopting a useful way to live your life and being conscious of your actions.

If a negative thought pops into your brain, you should ask yourself whether it is a useful thought to think? If it is judgemental, nasty, unhelpful, or simply not a good thought, then it is probably not a useful thought either.

In many circumstances you may feel frustration. For example, you are frustrated that you have a meeting to attend because you are convinced it will be a waste of time. Going into the meeting frustrated is not going to help your day get any better. You will get annoyed every time to meeting goes off track, and you will be uncooperative with your colleagues.

A useful way of looking at the situation is to realise that you have to attend the meeting, so how can you make the most of the situation? Look for the positive aspects of the meeting and it will not be a waste of your time. You might learn some valuable information, make a connection with a colleague, or be inspired.

Basically, every time you feel yourself falling into a negative trap, you need to stop and be consciously aware of your thoughts. Decide if what you are thinking is useful to the situation or not. If not, then change the way you are thinking about it.

 

The Rules of Useful Thinking

Include useful thinking in your life by following these simple rules…

Pause: Stop and give yourself time to think. Taking a few seconds to reset your brain will save you so much time in the long run. Frustration and anger can be consuming and will suck precious minutes out of your day if you let them.

Specifics: If you can focus on the specifics of a situation then it is easier to think usefully. Generalisations can make it hard to start tackling a challenge, therefore making it seem impossible.

Positives: Nothing is ever as bad as it seems, there will be some positive aspect that you can find if you just take the time to look for it.

Past Experience: Draw on your wisdom and think about how you dealt with a similar situation in the past. That can help you to tackle a current problem with more confidence.

Make It Better: Instead of dwelling on the negatives, look at how you can improve things and how you can make them better.

Outcomes: Sometimes thinking about the actual ‘doing’ can be paralysing. But thinking about the outcome can give you the push to get moving towards the end goal.

Being positive certainly has its place as you don’t want to live a life of doom and gloom. But positive thinking is not the solution to all of your problems. Instead, use the principles of useful belief to become conscious of your situation and to work through it practically.

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