Properly Wielding Positive AND Negative Thinking

The Ying Yang of Positive and Negative Thinking

In the world of self-help and personal development, one of the biggest things you hear is that positive thinking will help get you where you want to go. That you must change all your negative views to positive ones. That you should always be a optimist. I see where people are going with that… but it’s only half the truth. The key is learning how to use both positive and negative thinking together.

I was a Pessimist Before I was an Optimist

It might sound odd, but looking back on my life, I believe that I was a pessimist for much of it. At one time, I was so focused on the bad things which were going to inevitably happen, that I never saw the good things for what they were.

I don’t know how I became a pessimist, really. Perhaps it was being picked on at a young age and then moving on to being socially awkward and not wanting to do anything outside my comfort zone? That might have been it.

I do know that it got worse in some ways when I got to college. I went through several instances of depression when I first got there. Mainly because one of the few things I was decent at (getting good grades) I was no longer capable of doing – so it seemed. So instead of having time to figure out who I was and working on problems in my own time, I felt I had to keep up. I went from being the victim to being the delinquent. I looked for what was wrong with a given situation, other people, and how I could exploit them. And as you could probably imagine, this was a bad habit to get into. It turned me into someone that wanted to fix everything and everyone. What I saw wrong in others was a reflection of the insecurities I saw in myself. It also made me think that nothing was my fault.

Obviously, this perspective quickly drops one’s self-esteem and confidence and keeps it down. How come? Simply because your subconscious mind is always listening. Crap in, crap out.

If most of your thoughts are of judging others, then you’re going to probably think negatively of yourself and of the world, too.

In fact, it was only recently that I started learning how to give compliments (without being weird) and how to receive them.

Moving from Pessimism to Optimism

When I first got into LTD in 2006, going out of my way to think positively was very liberating but difficult at the same time. I was so used to putting others and myself down. Half the time I didn’t even realize I was doing it until members of my upline pointed it out. (Thanks Gabe and Dave!) I didn’t realize that many of the bad vibes that I had with other people were because of my own words and actions. It was then that I realized I wasn’t a great as person as I had thought.

One of the first books I read when I got into LTD was called What to Say When You Talk To Yourself (Kindleby Dr. Shad Helmstetter.

In the book, he talks about how there is a feedback system not too different than the Trigger => Habit => Reward system that I talked about here.

His model is: Programming => Beliefs => Attitudes => Feelings => Actions => Results. Your results then reinforce or chip away at the programming in your head. Cycle starts over again.

As you start taking control and being aware of this loop, your life starts to take a turn for the better. You are now present and start to realize that you can actually achieve things that you set out to do. Life isn’t just about chances and things outside of your control.

Hoping Your Life Away

However, something I’ve seen time and time again are people wishing their way out of things actually getting done. That as long as they focus on how awesome the future is going to be, that it will magically happen for them. In fact, for the longest time after getting involved with LTD and reading self-help book after self-help book I was caught up in this mindset. This limbo mindset can be described as doing something completely different than what you should be doing to get you the desired results you want.

Or, in other words, you’re practicing to be a basketball player but want to be a professional baseball player. Both types of players want to win, true. But how many people remember Michael Jordan as a baseball player? Not many outside of classic sports and sports trivia world. He didn’t have nearly as much time practicing and playing baseball as he did basketball. Therefore, he wasn’t as great. (Not totally knocking him, though. A professional athlete is still a professional athlete!)

Positive Thinking is a great thing. However, on top of the mentality to succeed, you need motivation to get started. Most of the time, stress is that motivator.

Appreciative Inquiry or Problem Solving? The Realist Uses Both.

In the above video, Kelly talks about how stress can actually be a good thing in your life. However, by many yet today, stress is considered a big killer. They believe that you have to do anything you can to avoid stress. Some of them might even believe a Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) is all that you need to succeed and that all your stresses will simply melt away (or they’ll somehow take care of themselves…?).

Ha. Likely story, right?

When you have a stress at home, school, or at work, you have a choice to do two things. You can either see all the good effects the stress has made, or you can simply find a solution for the stress. In academia, looking for the good is called Appreciative Inquiry.

Again, I’d argue that it’s only half the solution.

The truth is that stress is a sign that you care about the thing that you’re stressing out about.

What I’ve found is that if you don’t have stress, you don’t really have that initial motivation to get started in your next journey. If you don’t see things that are wrong with life… then how can you possibly help to fix them and add value to others? You can’t simply block bad things out of your mind. You must recognize the problem that is there then choose on how you’re going to deal with it. This is the proper use of Negative Thinking. It is basis for the Scientific Method (aka the Problem-Solving Method).

In the end, the difference between good stress and bad stress isn’t the stress itself, it’s what your reaction is.

Do you see stress as a threat? Do you see it as a challenge to make your life and the life of other’s around you better?

I would recommend to try to see the stress in BOTH perspectives. See it as a threat and then see it as the challenge. Threats have to be dealt with immediately, challenges make us better off when we overcome them.

Is the glass half full or half empty? It’s both. Fill it up the rest of the way and get on with life.


I want you to specifically look for an instance in your life where you might get stressed and start freaking out. For many of us, we ourselves, or people we know, school is starting up again. Maybe you have a big review coming up at your job? Or perhaps you have a presentation you have to give to a potential client?

Whatever the situation, I want you to look at it as an opportunity to knock one out of the ballpark.

Then, I want you to prepare for that event as if you’ve done many before and this is just another notch on the wall. Prepare proactively and not reactively. Have a strategy. Sure, you could miss, but if you prepare for the big day with a little bit of positivity and enough caution to take the event seriously, you’ll probably do better than you expect.

Let me know how it goes for you and if you changed anything from when you typically handle a stressful situation.

11 Ways to Be Happier Day to Day

Empaths and Narcissists. Two very different types of people. You could say that they’re extremes. On one hand with the empath, you have a person who feels everything that is going on with themselves and the people around them. Perhaps they feel that they’re “out of this world” or misplaced because they see all the emotion. That they have superhuman powers to read people. To sense vibes. Many times, they absorb all these emotions that are around them feeling weighted down by the burdens of the world.

On the other hand, you have the narcissist. One could say that this is the opposite of the empath. They look at others as instruments to get what they want. Many times, these people have become like this because of some sort of pain they received earlier in their life. Furthermore, the narcissist won’t realize that the world doesn’t work this way. That the world is a two way street. They’ll literally do anything to get where they want to get to in life.

In either case, neither will likely be able to create their own happiness. The empath might think that having their own happiness is too selfish. The narcissist, on the other hand, will think that their unhappiness is everyone else’s fault. So why should they put time into it if no one else will?

That said, I think most of us that have struggled or currently struggle with being happy fall somewhere between these two extremes.

Your Happyness is Yours to Build

Just like many things, Happiness is a journey, not so much a destination. The Founding Fathers knew this when they mentioned it in the Declaration of Independence. If you should remember anything about July 4th this weekend, is that in the United States it is the God Given Right to live life, be free, and strive towards our own happiness – whatever that might be. So as we come to this celebration of what the US stands for, I wanted to break down 10 things that we can do to be more happy.

The reason why I recommend the Four Agreements on a regular basis is because I believe it has led me to be happier myself. The agreements are as follows:

Be Impeccable with Your Word

Don’t Take Anything Personal

Don’t Make Assumptions

Always Do Your Best

In these four, I’ve come up with a list of 11 key everyday practices that can help you gain more happiness daily.

Be Impeccable with Your Word

Stop Complaining

Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems. – Zig Ziglar

Chances are you don’t want to be around some that complains all the time. So why would anyone want to be around you if you do? If you must complain, give yourself 5 minutes to do so. Better yet, instead of complaining about something, instead look for a possible solution? No solution? Focus on the positive and perhaps cut a joke.

Focus on the Positive Things in Life

When you focus on problems, you’ll have more problems. When you focus on the possibilities, you’ll have more opportunities. – Unknown

The more you focus on negative things in your life, the more they’ll come in. It will show up in your work, your relations, and everything else. Instead, shift your attention to the positive perspective. In return, more positive things will come.

Blame yourself, not others

The moment you take responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you can change anything in your life. – Hal Elrod

Every one us is where we are in life due to choices we’ve made in the past. Sure, our circumstances are different, but more often then not, many of us take the easier route which in the long run makes us weaker for the hard stuff in life. Take the challenges as they come in life and you’ll be prepared for when crap really hits the fan.

Don’t Take Anything Personal

Stop Caring About What Others Think of You

If you care about what other people think, you will always be their prisoner. – James Frey

Every great leader, artist, entrepreneur, and/or political leader (George Bush is a painter now… wha!?) ignored what people thought of them at one point or another. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be able to take off. Instead, if others are tearing you up, realize it’s more than likely because they’re envious OR threatened by you.

Stop Needing to Be Right All the Time

Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues. – Confucius

Learn to laugh at yourself. It’s ok to stand up for things you really believe in, but not on every subject. In stead of trying to be right, learn how to see other people’s point of view. When I argue politics on Facebook, I typically do after understanding the other side’s perspective. Start asking more questions to see other’s points of view, it might open a whole new perspective for yourself… one that you incorporate your old perspective and theirs into an ultimate right answer! 😉

Don’t Make Assumptions

Stop Judging

Ask Questions to Clarify

Begin challenging your assumptions. Your assumptions are the windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile or the light won’t come in. – Alan Alda

This is simple. If you’re interested in being successful, learn to make things clear at the beginning. Yes, it’s impossible not to assume 100% of the time, especially if you’re doing something that has been multiple times before, but make sure you’re always asking questions to clear things up before it gets worse.

Always Do Your Best

Be Present

What is presence? It is a grounding and harmony in this very moment; it is a physical alertness, an emotional acceptance, a spiritual awareness and union with what is in front of us in the here and now; it is a vital consciousness to who we are and what we are sensing; it is a mindfulness to what is meaningful; it is the Way – Brendon Burchard

Brendon talks all the time about his life mission being “Did we live? Did I love? Did I matter?”. So often we find ourselves living in the past in how good things used to be. Or we live in the future in how we want things to be. Live in the present. You’ll never get to the future you want if you don’t appreciate where you are now.

Be Fearless

Being Fearless isn’t being 100% not fearful, it’s being terrified but you jump anyway… – Taylor Swift

Fear is a strong motivator in life. Perhaps possibly the strongest to not be great. Perhaps you’re worried about leaving friends behind. Perhaps you’re worried that you might fail in whatever you’re setting out to do. The hard truth is that at the end of the day or even your life, you’re going to wish that you at least tried to do something vs always dreaming “what if”. Don’t waste the gifts that you’ve been given. Go Do Your Thing.

Stop Being So Hard on Yourself

The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel. – Steven Furtick

I know I’m my own worst critic. I know that inside of us there’s a fan and there’s the scrooge. For many of us, we’ve been told our entire lives that we can do anything we want to do… just don’t screw up. Furthermore, school taught us, pass without failing.

What we don’t learn until after school is that we don’t learn in life without failing. Failing is part of life. Once you accept this, then you start relying more on the fan to motivate you. The scrooge will always be there saying, “you don’t deserve to be awesome”. However, as you start gaining success, you’ll listen to the fan more and more. While you might not be perfect, you give value to others.

Stop Worrying About the Small Stuff

Worry is a misuse of the imagination. – Dan Zadra

We worry about everything and anything. Part of limiting what influence the scrooge has is to realize that others aren’t perfect either. Just because someone isn’t replying to your emails, texts, or phone calls doesn’t mean they suddenly don’t like you.

Learn to focus on what you can do in the current moment and not worry so much on what the outcome is going to be.

Your Turn

So below in the comments, let me know what you do to feel happier on a day to day basis. Are there any tricks or tips that you do when you feel yourself getting down? Chime in and share!


The 5 Pillars of Happiness

Pursuit of Happiness – it’s in the Declaration of Independence, but do we really know what it means? Is happiness something that we can truly achieve? If so, how?

I think it is. It’s in the eye of seeker. No one can define happiness but you. However, they can definitely help you along your journey

That’s what the story of Chris Gardner, the author of The Pursuit of Happyness, has done for millions of people. Personally, I had seen Will Smith’s rendition a few years before I ever had heard that it was actually based on the life story of Chris. But if you think you ever have it bad, I got to say it probably pales in comparison. I mean, he really did. At the time that he was going through so much grief in his life, he really didn’t have anyone to turn to. I mean for crying out loud, he and his son had to sleep in a subway restroom.

But, if you saw the movie, you’d know that eventually he made his goals/dreams come true. Not only did he make them come true, but he far exceeded them.

So what was the lesson from his story? Well, for one… I think the main lesson was to never give up or give in. But I also think there’s more that we can pull from this story. We can see that Chris also progressed in developing his 5 Pillars of Happiness: Relationships, Health, Purpose, Finance, and the Little Things. These 5 pillars is what makes up New Inceptions’ foundation.

The 5 Pillars of Happiness:

1.) Mental (Relationships being a part of this) – In Chris’ story, we find Chris living with his ex-wife who gives him plenty of crap about where they are in life and what he’s doing with himself. It’s not that she’s really interested in him developing into what he wants to be, but what she can get out of her relationship with him. She needs him to do things that at the time he is incapable of doing. They are struggling, but she is definitely not helping the matter any. However, in the end of the story (at least the movie), Chris has built one heck of a relationship with his son.

In the Relationship Pillar of Happyness, as with all the other pillars, there is a scale.  If a person is too heavy on one side of this scale vs the other, their life will be more difficult. As with everything in life, it’s all about proper moderation – these scales need to be properly balanced. In this particular scale one would say that there is side where a person is all about themselves. On the other side of this scale, they are all about other people at the expense of themselves. Neither extreme is good for building healthy relationships. If you’re too into yourself, no one will be able to trust you. If you’re too much into aiding others, then you’ll eventually be taken advantage of by them and made to do what they want you to. You need to know what you want out of relationships or it won’t be meaningful for any of the people involved.

To balance this scale out, it helps to understand why you keep the company you do and how to recognize those that are good for you. It also helps to know how to win the trust and friendships of those that you want in your life.

2.) Health – In Pursuit of Happyness, at least the movie, we never really deal with Chris’ health too much. However we would be mistaken to think that he was doing fantastic in this pillar. Little money = little food. Little food = malnutrition. Malnutrition, especially between a child and an adult, doesn’t usually equate to good things. The way to balance this pillar here is pretty obvious based on the focus of health in today’s society. To properly handle this pillar, one must balance out a fair amount of activity with proper nutrition. It’s all about proper maintenance and meeting the needs of your body. You can’t beat natural design.

3.) Spiritual (Purpose and Mission being a part of this) – In Chris’ story, he wants to leave the medical sales world behind and become a somebody on Wall Street. The movie is basically about his dedication in making this a reality. Obviously his dream to do this is to provide more for himself and his family which, at the beginning of the story, he’s not doing such a great job of. However, we shouldn’t get the pursuit of a “career” confused with the purpose of a person. A person’s career is just part of their purpose. Everything that a person chooses to constructively do with their time is part of their purpose. Everything that a person chooses to do that is not constructive use of their talents, is nothing more than a distraction of who they are.

However, too much of either side can’t be 100% good for you. Someone being completely constructive all the time in life might find it hard to have fun. Someone that lives 100% for fun, can not be happy because they aren’t fulfilling who they really are. In either extreme, a void is created and the person tries to fill that void with more of the same action. That’s how we get workaholics vs party animals. Those that do their research of who they are as a person, can figure out how to have fun while being constructive. This automatically balances you out. That’s how you can have a job where you don’t ever feel like you’re actually working.

If you can’t have fun when you’re being productive, the way to balance yourself here is choosing when to be purposeful and when to have fun. My suggestion? Work before play, but make sure you get to have fun.

4.) Wealth (Finance being a part of this) – Finally in Chris’ story, we need to realize the importance of money in his life. At the beginning, he doesn’t have very much of it. In the end, he has the opportunity to make plenty. Getting the chance to live his dream and be a player on Wall Street, definitely comes from his need to make a better living for himself and his family. There is nothing wrong with having this as a goal. However, we shouldn’t confuse this with just being rich to be rich.

In the Bible, it is said that “the love of money is root of all evil”. This is correct. To pursue money just to have it, is probably not the best thing for a person as it’s probably an addiction at that point and at the same time, they’re probably not doing too much with it. Instead, money should be considered a tool that amplifies the person that is using it. Good people will use it for good, while bad people will use it for bad things. Chris using his money to help his family move forward was a good thing. If used correctly for good, money can have a lot of impact – more than any one person can have in physical labor alone. Therefore the more money you have, the more people you have the potential to benefit.

2015 Edit: 5.) The Little Things – Since 2010 when I originally wrote this, I’ve realized that there is more to life that makes one happy. The fifth pillar could be referred to the little things. Each of us has particular small things in our life that we kind of geek over. For example, if you’re into sports, you might be into stats of pitchers, QBs, goalies, etc. You might attend games. You might even be into ::gasp:: Fantasy Football!

This pillar is as important as the other pillars. However, that said, it tends to be the one that people focus on the most. This is where you find all the little distractions in life including social media, gaming, and other new technology. While these things are great to have, too much of them can definitely be a bad thing. You need to equally be spending time with each pillar.

Things to Mention:

The thing to mention is with any of the pillars is that the less balanced one of them is, the more you think about and worry about it. Just like you’re suffocating and need air. Why? Because you feel that something is wrong – but you just can’t figure out what it is… or how to solve it. But you sense it. For example, if you have subpar relationships, you probably spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to get better ones. Or, if you have little money, you probably spend more time thinking about how to get it. You see the pattern.

Something else I want to mention here is two words we hear so much in society today. I used to wonder what the terms “shallow” and “deep” meant when describing a person. What I have found is that when a person is said to be “shallow” it’s because they are actually balancing very little. They typically are only interested in that very little – and that’s generally why they have little to talk about. On the other end, a person who is “deep” is one who has learned how to balance all their pillars and are fine tuning them on a regular basis.  They have probably spent time learning about the different pillars (while they might not have realized it!) and have more to talk about with more people. If you want to have more friends… deeper friends… here’s a suggestion: get deeper into yourself. Find out what you are passionate about in life and learn how to share that passion with others.

So what do you think about the 4 Pillars of Happyness? Is there another pillar you might not be aware of?