We read everywhere that having a positive mindset is the only way to be successful. Anything less and you're doomed for failure.
It leads us to believe that if we have any 'down' days, or feel a bit fed up with things sometimes, we've committed an unforgivable sin, and we're heading for a life of mediocrity at best.
Then there are those that say positive thinking is putting too much pressure on yourself by always making yourself look on the bright side... is this true?
Here's my two cent's worth - you can have a great outcome to any situation whether you have a positive or negative mindset. BUT having a positive mindset does tend to lead to a happier life for very obvious reasons!
Studies have shown that positive people are more likely to be self confident and successful, they notice opportunities more than pessimistic people, and cope better with stress and uncertainty.
It's also true that if you dwell on negative thoughts they'll drain your energy, make you doubt yourself and miss new opportunities that come your way. The more you give in to them, the worse you feel and you can end up in a kind of downward spiral.
But it's a balance. Nobody can think positively all the time. Nowadays however, having a positive mindset has become a kind of mantra - a pre-requisite to living a worthwhile life, to the point that you almost panic if you feel negative or worried about something. But quite frankly you can have just as much success when you're feeling negative as you can if you're feeling positive.
You might think that having a positive mindset is seeing the world through rose coloured glasses, refusing to see any problems anywhere and always being upbeat and… well… positive.
But that’s just not true.
It’s simply a case of making the most of any situation, seeing the glass half full instead of half empty and seeing the silver lining, whilst still acknowledging the cloud.
Positive people still feel angry or upset, but the difference is, they don't dwell in that emotion for long, gravitating to more positive thoughts and thinking of ways to overcome the obstacle rather than bemoaning it for ever.
Psychologist Michael F Scheier, who has conducted many studies into this area says: “Optimists are not simply being Pollyannas; they're problem solvers who try to improve the situation. And if it can't be altered, they're also more likely than pessimists to accept that reality and move on.”
But I firmly believe that even with negative thinking around a situation, you can still create a positive outcome - and I can prove it.
I've had plenty of situations, as I mentioned above, when great outcomes have happened, even though I was actually thinking quite negatively about them.
More recently, in the last weeks before one of my international moves I was at the point of having to find somewhere to live in Sydney (where I was moving to) and I didn't have much time to play with because my dog and cat were due out of quarantine within 10 days of our arrival there.
I didn't have any other options - but every time I looked online to find somewhere, it was just so depressing. Having animals in Sydney is an issue, many rentals won't accept them. Plus Sydney had become crazy expensive since I'd left.
This started about 3 weeks of increasingly desperate thoughts, negative mindset and worry about this whole situation. What was I going to do if I couldn't find somewhere? I couldn't leave my animals in quarantine - and I didn't have friends I could stay with who could take my pets as well.
The more I looked, the more despondent I became - there was just nothing suitable around. I began to think I should have just stayed put in Cape Town... but it was too late now - everything was in place to move.
And so, one particular day, when the stress and worry were at an all time high, I saw a place online that I kept going back to, despite the fact there were no outward appearances that this place was:
a) what I was looking for, and
b) would accept my pets.
But I followed my intuition (with a bit of a poke from one of my friends) and made contact with the owner.
The outcome was better than I could ever have imagined... everything was perfect, right down to the street it was in (one of my favourites in the area), to my dog and cat being accepted with open arms - and the landlord was even willing to wait 3 weeks for me to move in!
I had been about as far from a positive mindset about this situation as you can get - yet the outcome was better than I could have imagined, with all the positivity in the world.
So what did I do? How did I still manage to create something great from such a bad attitude?
I think the answer lies in this. I am usually very positive about things, so my bias is positivity. However, there are times when I doubt my ability to create what I want, and when it's coupled with a stressful situation like I was in, it's easy to fall into a state of worry and negativity. But even so, I still kept in touch with my inner guidance - I still moved forward slowly, despite the outward appearance of nothing happening.
I just put one foot in front of the other in the absence of any other ideas about what to do.
Below are 5 steps that I took that you can also follow to move through fear and worry and into a positive outcome:
Hopefully you can now see that it is possible to have a positive outcome even without a positive mindset.
It's impossible to feel positive at every moment. But by letting go and trusting as much as you can, and listening to your inner guidance - what you need will find you.
So next time you're faced with a difficult situation, remember that you don't have to force yourself into a positive mindset. Instead, be true to yourself, acknowledge your fear or worry, while also remembering that out there is a solution that you just haven't found yet.