Remember Norman Vincent Peale and the Power of Positive Thinking? I don’t.
The book was first published in 1952 and has the reputation of being the most famous self-help book ever written. I never actually read the book and I don’t know much about Mr. Peale, other than he wrote it. I have no idea what the philosophies of the book are. It was first published a whole decade before I was born and by the time I became aware of it in my teens, positive thinking – well, thinking of any kind, really – was somewhat lost in the realm of perceived, adolescent omnipotence. In retrospect, that very delusion, though perhaps wrongfully positive, probably helped me survive my teen years and make it to adulthood relatively intact and unscathed.
While I missed The Power of Positive Thinking (it is on my to-read list), I have read a great deal on the subject. The Law of Attraction, The Secret (dumb book, by the way), Creative Visualization, How to Manifest Anything, The Art of Manifestation, Real Magic (it’s not what you think), The Power of Intention, Excuses Begone!, and a few others that I can’t recall at the moment. The basic premise of all of them is quite simple: Think positive!
But what is thinking positive? I’ve learned – the hard way – that it isn’t pretending that everything is okey-dokey. It’s not ignoring problems. It’s not giving up or just accepting things as they are, although that is sort of an important factor. It’s not not being angry or sad. It’s not denying reality. There’s quite a bit of hard work and determination involved. Discipline is key.
For years I looked for the magic formula, the instant solution that would make my life perfect and dissolve all my problems. Oddly, I never found it.
Well, that’s not entirely true. There is a magic formula; there just isn’t an instant solution.
Well, that’s not entirely true, either.
Are you sufficiently confused yet? It’s okay. I still get baffled by it.
And the point of this missive was not to dispense instructions on the subject. The point, I think (that was a couple of hours and several interruptions ago), was to share with you a story about how positive thinking is working in my life. Right now. This very moment.
Two months ago I was lying on a massage table in a friend’s basement while she practiced Reiki techniques on me. Reiki is an energy therapy system that targets the ethereal body, chakras, energy meridians, the aura, etc. and is designed to be used in healing (not curing – there is a vast and significant difference!). I’m always happy to lend my ethereal body to those who are developing healing skills of this nature – especially when it’s free because they are completing their practicum! (Just to be clear, I always offer Healing Touch or Reflexology in return as a professional courtesy. We need to support each other and it’s the least I can do.)
Now a lot of people think this sort of thing is a bunch of bunk. And that’s okay. I only mention it because it was the catalyst to a huge leap of faith on my part that required positive thinking in order to succeed.
As I lay there, I felt a gust of wind blow through me. It was hot and searing and left me feeling quite empty, which is a good thing by the way. I left feeling light and cleansed. Being empty like that gives one the option of choose what to fill one’s self back up with. I chose happiness.
A few days later, I hopped out of bed and announced to my husband of 14 ½ years that I was leaving him. I couldn’t believe what I was saying; the words just poured out of my mouth in a flood of long over-due emotional release.
Now where is the happiness and positivity in that, you may wonder. Well, it allowed me to explore and redefine myself and my priorities. And it strengthened and enhanced my relationship with my husband in ways that, on that particular morning, I would never have thought imaginable.
I bought a house. I moved out. I set up my household. I began the process of – as cliché as it may sound – finding myself (still got a ways to go on that one). And Dave and I became friends. I discovered I like him a lot better when I’m not fantasizing about blowing up his band room! Now we talk. We laugh together. We enjoy being together and feel comfortable just spending time. We don’t take each other for granted. We look forward to seeing each other. We are at absolute peace when we are apart. He lives his life and I live mine. There are no expectations. No strings. It’s utterly and profoundly wonderful to know that he’s there, but he’s not in my hair, so to speak. And it is all due to the power of positive thinking – with a bit of self-confidence mixed in.
I’ve never lived on my own – really – before. If I think too hard about it, it’s still a bit scary and overwhelming. But I count my blessings every day. Every night before I fall asleep I think about all the good things in my life and I thank the Universe for each of them. Every morning when I wake up I tell myself that something wonderful is going to happen today. And it does. (Sometimes to someone else, but that just gives me the opportunity to be happy for that person.)
Last week I got a letter from the bank telling me that the interest on my mortgage was decreased. I got a rebate from Visa – can you imagine!? This week I received a housewarming gift in the form of a cheque – enough to buy a few things for the house – and I got a refund from Telus – again, can you imagine? – that I wasn’t expecting. Not a fortune by any stretch, but most welcome and appreciated.
Life is good. And it’s good because I choose to think positive thoughts, welcome and accept the goodness that is around me into my life, and I am grateful when the goodness arrives whether it is expected or a delightful surprise.
There are times when I have to work at it. Every now and then the old habit of negative thinking rears its ugly head and tries to pull me down. Like last week when I couldn’t figure out Netflix. The solution was ultimately simple, but I got blinded by frustration and couldn’t see the forest for the trees (or the shows for the ease, as it were!) for a while. But now I can laugh about it. Silly me!
What it comes down to is patience, I think. I put it out there that I need or I want this or that and, if I’m patient, this or that arrives. Eventually. The being patient part is a bit trying for me still, but it’s getting easier. And the more impatient I am, the longer it takes, it seems. Next Reiki appointment, I’m going to ask her to work on my inability to wait for things. That and erase my penchant for eating cookies for supper, even if I do follow up with a guilt-ridden carrot stick for dessert. But that’s a whole other blog.