A positive focus in life, the type of focus that can help you achieve your goals, overcome adversity, and realize your full potential, doesn’t mean the avoidance of negative thoughts or comments.

Positive thinking is the ability to feel negative when you have to and still maintain enough hope to keep on going.

A school of thought has developed that says you always have to turn negative thoughts into positive ones and avoid saying or thinking negative things. This is a denial of all that is human about us. The starting point for creating a better life is to understand what it means to be human and accept who and what we are. As humans, we are frail, imperfect, mistake-prone beings who can react in an emotional way to what happens to us.

Negative Thoughts Simply Mean You Are Human

Life throws us twists and turns that can be unsettling, disturbing, and frightening. Most of us will have to go through struggles, frustrations, and even nightmarish situations at some point during our life. It’s normal and okay to feel bad when these things occur. It’s alright to have some negative thoughts when our path bends the wrong way. To deny these feelings and thoughts simply wouldn’t be natural or healthy.

Don’t beat yourself up when negative feelings, thoughts, and words creep into your life. You haven’t done anything wrong. You are just being human. It’s okay to feel this way. The challenge is to not let these feelings hold you back from moving forward with your life.

Positive Thinking Starts By Embracing Reality

True positive thinking doesn’t deny reality or rewrite history to make things seem better than they are. Don’t call a problem an opportunity to give it a nicer spin. Don’t call a nightmare a challenge. These have the opposite effect of what was intended. To fully and completely address what faces you, you have to accurately define what it is you are dealing with. If you minimize or soften the nature of the task before you, you run the risk of not responding to it with a sufficient amount of importance and energy.

What’s more, how do you want to feel once you have overcome your adversity? A sense of accomplishment is one of the things that motivates us and builds our confidence to pursue more in life. So what do you want to say about what you just did? I handled an opportunity, or I solved a nasty problem? I dealt with a challenge, or I overcame a nightmare? Which would give you a greater sense of accomplishment? When we soften the words we use to describe a situation, we rob ourselves of the feeling of just how much we have achieved.

Everything that happens to us offers lessons that can help us navigate our journey through life. No matter how negative our situation may appear or how bad we are feeling in the moment, recognize that there are wonderful lessons you can extract to give you the wisdom you need to create a better world for yourself and others. Focus on learning all you can from your experiences, and you will find the negative feelings replaced by thoughts about what to do next.

Climb As Many Mountains As It Takes

Positive Thinking means climbing as many mountains as it takes.

Embrace Reality Without Losing Hope

A positive person never allows the reality of the moment to stop them from seeing a better future. They accept the reality that is before them while never losing hope about tomorrow. That hope spurs them on so they climb as many mountains as it takes to get there. The truth is that reality can be the best thing to motivate us to go beyond where we are and realize our full potential.

The key is to embrace reality without losing hope. That’s true positive thinking in action.

Don Shapiro is the author of the book in the making, Life Is A Fork In The Road about how we make choices and use our inner wisdom to guide our life’s journey. He is conducting research for the book by collecting stories from people around the world on the book’s Facebook page and the book project’s website.

*Photo by hollysuewho.