The emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius said: 'A man's life is what his thoughts make of it.” While it is true that our life is conditioned by external factors, for the most part, it is determined by the thoughts that occupy our mind. If we think in a certain way, we create the conditions for our thoughts to turn into reality, but by simply thinking another way, we will create completely different conditions.
The psychiatrist Karl Menninger said: 'Attitude is more important than facts'. Regardless of what happens in our life, it is how we approach things, even the most difficult or seemingly hopeless situations, that really matters. The way we think about a problem has the power to destroy us, even before we actually start to address the issue itself. On the other hand, a mindset rooted in optimism and faith can help us to rethink, and even overcome, that obstacle.
Our thoughts determine our emotions and, although it may be hard to believe, they also help create the circumstances on which our mind is focused. If we are worried about the outcome of a conversation, for example, our thoughts will lead us to take micro-actions, which will create the very outcome we feared all along. If we want to change our circumstances, therefore, we need to train ourselves to think differently. We must avoid passively accepting anything that does not make us happy, while constructing thought patterns that help us create the circumstances we would like.
In order to train ourselves to think positively, we must learn to visualise clear and strong images of what we desire, for example, images of love, happiness, contentment, or prosperity. We should always remember to have unwavering faith in every moment of our lives, and this faith must evolve into the ultimate belief that our vision will come true.
The following is an exercise to train positive thinking: for one week, we should make an effort to only think positive thoughts, pushing the negative ones out of our mind, and deliberately thinking optimistically about our life, family, job, or society in general. We should then allow ourselves to return to our 'realistic' thoughts for a couple of days, and we will realise that what we thought was a realistic mindset was actually pessimism, and it was hurting us.