Positive thinking is a discipline that trains the human mind to change a perceived reality by repeatedly making positive mental statements. A person practices positive thinking when they derive a positive sense of well being, optimism, belonging, meaning and/or purpose from being part of and contributing back to something larger and more permanent than themselves. Positive thinking is a process of choosing positive emotions from stimuli in the environment and applying them to perceptions and beliefs. The objective is to create an outlook that translates into a new or better chosen reality.

Positive Mental Attitudes Can Create a New Reality

A positive mental attitude is the belief that one can increase achievement through optimistic thought processes. A positive attitude comes from observational learning in the environment and is partially achieved when a vision of good natured change in the mind is applied toward people, circumstances, events, or behaviors (Wikipedia). Since it is difficult to quantify (measure) the effects of a positive mental attitude, it can be considered a philosophy and a way to approach life.

Philosophy, Science, and Spirituality Meets Hollywood

The mega-blockbuster movie “What the Bleep Do We Know?” examined positive thoughts and the energy of thought from a variety disciplines. In this film, the universe was seen as constructed from thought, or ideas, rather than substance. A blend of expert viewpoints from the fields of psychology, science, religion, medicine, mysticism, and spirituality emphasized the power of positive thinking and the imagination to change reality and create what we want in our lives. It was based upon some principles of quantum physics and our body’s physical reaction to our own self-created emotional state.

Experts posited that life’s conditions could be altered with a high degree of awareness over a person’s daily thought processes. This could be accomplished by making change from both the conscious level of the mind as well as the subconscious. The conscious mind represents intention and willpower. The subconscious mind contributes to the vibration or energy of what humans think and is also said to control identification and behaviors. Automatic programs are created and reside in the subconscious mind, like shaving, typing, driving, washing dishes or performing tasks automatically. These automatic “mental programs” are helpful to daily human functioning. But when old, automatic programs involve hasty emotional reactions to present day events, then a person is said to be reacting to life and not fully living it.

Joe Dispenza and Breaking Negative Thinking Patterns

In “What the Bleep” Joe Dispenza argued that thoughts pieced together create attitudes that later become beliefs. Beliefs secured together make perceptions, which are the way we interact with the world and develop relationships. As skills and tasks are developed, people have the ability to act automatically because the brain develops more neurological networks to assist with daily functioning.

Dispenza believed that people can become trapped by these networks. Old, automatic “mental programs” that do not serve an individual well can be replaced with better, more productive thoughts. He discussed the concept of emotional addiction, where thoughts produce a biochemical reaction in the body. Emotions produce chemicals in the brain. He indicated that an individual’s past mental programs are used to react to a present situation. Since they are associated with chemicals in the brain, the body has a physiological reaction to environmental stimuli.

Addiction to the Emotional State

Humans can become addicted to their emotional state when the body becomes dependent upon the chemicals it is accustomed to receiving regularly from certain emotional reactions to stimuli. For example stress, rage, or guilt can give the human body a surge of adrenaline to heighten awareness. A human begin can choose to live continually in a state of vigilance. When an individual creates emotions associated with people, places, events, circumstances, or even new relationships from the past, and the body can get addicted to the chemical reaction associated with those emotional exchanges. Often, the long-term effects of living on negative emotions are unhealthy and cause the body to breakdown over time, e.g., lack of reasoning power and digestive disturbances.

Being addicted to one’s emotions means a person lacks self-awareness and unconsciously searches for situations that will support old ideas. Like an adrenaline addiction, if one is addicted to the chemicals their body receives from certain emotional reactions, such as guilt, pain, suffering, or control, then they will unconsciously search for situations in life that provide that particular chemical boost. Thus, reality never changes until a person takes charge of their thoughts. Without conscious awareness of emotions and reactions to the environment, one cannot reach their higher potential.

Make Change by Reducing Automatic Reactions to the Environment

To see the benefits of positive thinking, a human must replace negative emotions, such as anger, fear or worry, or low self-esteem with something new, such as forgiveness or creativity. Because of free-will, an individual can create a new neurological network in the brain. Consequently, they will have a more beneficial interpretation of their reality. Dispenza claimed that old programs are rooted in the subconscious and the subconscious mind always supports whoever we choose to be. If you recognize you can change, the brain will follow suit because it can be retrained to fire neurologically. However, relying upon some automatic programs is good when the world is seen with more joy and compassion. Should a person choose to reprocess their reaction to their environment in order to break an existing pattern of negative thinking, over time the interruption will weaken the neurological networks in the brain and a new pattern can be developed.

Candace Pert and Bodily Reactions to Emotions

This viewpoint was supported by Candace B. Pert, Ph.D., author of Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine, who researched receptor sites and peptides manufactured in the brain and how they cause bodily reactions to emotions. She believed thoughts not only have an affect on our physical bodies but on our goals. Emotions are the key element in self-care because they allow us to enter into a body-mind conversation. Her implication was that adopting a new and positive perspective to one’s life goes beyond observing who we are and what is real. It actually forms our realities and is dictated by physiological reactions to what we choose to think and feel.

Although “What the Bleep Do We Know” was widely criticized for illogical scientific conclusions, due to its financial success and popularity, the public seemed to embrace the following principals: (1) Thoughts do matter, (2) Nearly everyone has created automatic programs that influence the perception of their own future, (3) Our physiological reactions to current day realities can be changed by positive thinking and practicing a high level of self-awareness, (4) Validation the effectiveness of positive thinking can only be determined by each individual and the changes witnessed in their own environment, and (5) Gaining dominion over your body and mind is the beginning of a personal mastery that leads to an empowered outlook on life.

For a more complete definition on positive thinking, see The Evolution of Positive Thinking: Views from Science, Spirituality, Psychology and Hollywood by Charlene M. Proctor, Ph.D.


Keywords: Positive thought, positive attitude, positive psychology, positive mental attitude, success through a positive mental attitude

Author's Bio: 

This article was written by Charlene M. Proctor, Ph.D., the Official SelfGrowth.com Guide to Positive Thinking. Dr. Charlene M. Proctor is the founder of The Goddess Network, Inc. an on-line educational resource for topics on spirituality, relationships, and women's studies. Author of Let Your Goddess Grow! she is a researcher and educator in the field of women's empowerment and develops self-empowerment strategies for women in all walks of life. She is a subject matter expert for Beliefnet.com, the world's largest self-help and personal growth website. Her affirmations from The Women's Book of Empowerment reach 2.7 million web visitors daily. She currently facilitates the PATH to Empowerment program for Lighthouse Path in Michigan, a residential women's shelter for homeless mothers, teaching them how to cope with life and increase self-esteem and confidence. To learn more, visit http://www.thegoddessnetwork.net

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