Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Beyond "Positive Thinking"

Amazing stuff from psychologist Shaun Anchor on the "science" of happiness and success. No surprise, Anchor finds that focusing on the negative is detrimental. He claims, 90% of your long term happiness is determined by your internal world, how your brain processes the outside world.

Success doesn't equal happiness. The opposite is true. Happiness creates success.

"Think positive" has become such a cliche sound byte and rally cry that it has become practically meaningless. It is often used in a failed attempt to cheer someone up but often just results in invalidating their feelings. The good news is there is a science behind building a positive thought process. There are specific steps you can take to be more happy. How?

Meditation (Step 11)
Random Acts Of Kindness

Think of three things you are grateful for. Now write them down. Tomorrow do three more.

Also journaling each day about a positive experience, exercising, meditation and practicing random acts of kindness (as simple as writing one quick positive email each day thanking someone in your social support network). This helps you relieve stress and relive positive experiences. Your brain will begin to retain the pattern of scanning the world more for it's positive attributes.

According to Anchor, it takes just 2 minutes per day for three weeks to "rewire your brain". Your energy levels will rise, you will become more productive and your creativity will increase!

Check out the Orange County ACA website at: Orange County Adult Children


Anonymous said...

I have a question. Before I get to it I want to say I have been in ACA for 21 years +. I came from a very in denial household where I was told to be optimistic in the midst of very negative things occurring. As a result I became negative- but my negativity was based upon the FALSE optimism I saw and the denial of the negative going on. Anyway, while I see the value in the above I question it SOMEWHAT- by that I mean it can be used to AVOID unpleasant memories and truthes that have been denied.Another thing is that success is so poorly defined in our society its actually quite pathetic to think what many people consider success- very materialistic and compulsive behavior. So my question is: Is this necessarily directly related to ACA or is it a generic tool that anyone could use? And if is the latter what is it doing here in an ACA blog? Maybe I am being too picky? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comment.

I think the point is that there should be balance. Even in taking inventory (Step 4), we are urged to list the good along with the bad. If all I ever focus on is the negative, that is what I will attract. This has been repeated by wise teachers throughout the centuries. I don't see where the video above said to ignore problems or deny them.

I think the line between an ACA and "anyone" is a thin one, if it even exists. Can you think of someone you know who doesn't have some dysfunction in their lives? As I see it, there is so much crossover between those who define themselves as ACAs and those who don't that the line is indistinguishable. And make no mistake, the vast majority of people have dysfunction whether they want to admit it or not.

I know that the things I've learned as an ACA are helpful to everyone who wants to apply them. By the same token, something designed to better the lives of the "general population" can be helpful to ACAs. Are we to deny ourselves the benefits of a process just because it isn't labeled as specifically designed just for ACAs? If something exists in science, psychology or spirituality that can be of help to humanity in general, it stands to reason that it not would only apply to ACAs but be of even MORE use!

Thanks for listening.

Anonymous said...

I found great benefit from having a more optimistic view of my recovery and life. Before my recovery and even during the first part of my recovery, I was focused on the wrong things. Now I'm focused on what's good for me.

For example, my experience with step 7 in humbly asking God to remove my shortcomings has now shifted to a humble request for my Higher Power to bless me with a spirit of trust, faith, courage, gratitude, etc. This is because I now look at my defects of character as assets taken to an unhealthy extreme, which subsequently cause my shortcomings to occur. My experience shows me that He actually doesn't remove anything. What my Higher Power actually does as I try to hand Him my shortcomings, is He helps me to use my defects as the ASSETS they were truely meant to be! The truth is: I am loved, I am a good person, I am awesome, I am God's creation & He has a purpose for me, am designed perfectly, and I am not deficient.

When I focus on the negative, it tends to stay with me in the form of shame and come out inadvertently in the form of the very shortcomings I'm asking Him to remove! But when I focus on the good of the ACA spiritual principles, I feel better about myself and I start to see others in a different light. I react differently to others and people notice. I give hope to others. So the shortcomings are not actually removed, they are replaced! Spirituality is about feelings and it FEELS like the shortcoming is removed even though it is REPLACED.

The point is, lack of optimism in my life in recovery has contributed to shame and all the "laundry" that shame brings. And since I started embodying optimism and the ACA spiritual principles, I've felt my shame melt away and I've even have seen the effects of that in the lessening of my reactions and the healing of my relationships with others. Here are some examples of how I've started looking at things more positively, which resulted in my spiritual growth:

1) Negative statement: Broken people break people. Turning it positive: Healed people restore and give hope to those around them.

2) Negative statement: I was living against my own True Nature. Turning it positive: My own True Nature is Love. Love in me. Love from God. Love to you.

3) Negative statement: Fear is a lack of faith, not the absence of it. Turning it positive: Having more faith will bring more security and gradually release my fear.

In conclusion, I see optimism as a tool which gives me vision and hope for happiness, joy, peace, freedom & ultimately feeling good about myself.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing!

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