Wright Foundation | July 20, 2017

Mind Over Matter:
The Surprising Effects of Positive Thinking

Do you ever wonder why some people are GOOD at everything?

Some people are naturally happier, more fulfilled and better at what they do because they have embraced powerful effects of positive thinking.

Maybe it’s your coworker who received a promotion at work, when you were passed over. Maybe it’s a friend who is constantly moving up in all aspects of his life. He has a great relationship with his spouse, recently bought a new house in the suburbs and is always doing something adventurous and amazing (he’s even a nice guy!).

Don’t they get under your skin? You know, those people who are just amazing at everything they do. Like King Midas, everything they touch seems to turn to gold. It all works out for them, all the time. Don’t they just piss you off, those lucky so-and-sos?!

All jest aside, it’s not your imagination, but it’s also not dumb luck either. Some people are naturally happier, more fulfilled and better at what they do because they gravitate toward powerful positive thinking.

Rather than pissing you off, these positive thinkers should be great examples and role models. If you want what they’re getting, you’ve got to shift your approach. Surround yourself with positive allies and learn from them.

These seemingly gifted people have learned to focus on the positive. They’ve developed a positive mindset—a growth mindset—and they’ve used the mindset as a platform to transform their lives. These people learned they possess the power to control their happiness through action (not willpower or willful denial). These people are leaders and influencers. They’ve learned the powerful effects of positive thinking.

Positive psychology isn’t about wishing and manifesting from the universe. Positive psychology can be congruent to faith and religion but it’s not a spiritual practice. It certainly doesn’t mean you’ll never face problems or frustrations. It’s not even about “faking it until you make it.” (Although, faking a positive growth-mindset until it becomes natural and genuine can help you get there.)

What Is Positive Psychology?

Historically, the field of psychology has been focused on the darker side of understanding disordered thinking and mental illness. Psychologists studied and wanted to understand why people were anxious, depressed, and so on. They wanted to dissect the problem to resolve it.

Starting with Alfred Adler, the field of psychology started to slowly break away from the approach of “identify, dissect and resolve a problem” and into a more holistic approach—a focus on each person’s needs and how to help them move toward happiness.

Adlerian psychology is known as Individual Psychology. Not because the practice focuses on the “Individual,” as we would instinctively assume. In German, Adler’s native tongue, the word translated to “whole” or undivided. The focus was on healing and transforming a person into their best potential state.

Positive psychology has evolved on this base of Adlerian philosophy. Positive psychology is a scientific approach to happiness. It’s based on experiments and tested theories. It’s an evidence-based approach to joy and greater fulfillment.

A positive growth-mindset isn’t limited to psychology and the field of mental health but is used by business leaders, counselors and life coaches. In fact, the field of coaching and positive psychology go hand-in-hand.

Coaches work with their clients to help them develop tools to achieve their goals and find more fulfillment and influence in their worlds. Coaches help clients work toward greater fulfillment and success. Much of the growth clients experience is achieved through the effects of positive thinking.

How Can You Benefit from the Effects of Positive Thinking?

We’ve all had times when we feel like an outsider. Maybe you aren’t connecting with your spouse or your coworkers. Maybe your friends seem to click, yet you feel like you’re standing on the outside, looking in. How do you get those connections? How do you get to the “good life” you want?

Well, positive psychologists, coaches and others who’ve studied the “good life,” learn it isn’t about the stuff we buy or own. It’s not about our promotions at work, or having the biggest house or the prettiest spouse, or even being the most intelligent person in the room. The good life comes from unlocking your sense of purpose. It comes from our experiences and our focus on the positive. The good life comes from the effects of positive thinking.

In our signature program, The Year of Transformation, we discuss many different approaches to reaching your version of the good life. One of the most important tools you can unlock is the ability to see life as an adventure. Focus on the positive. Every experience is an opportunity to learn and to explore. Setbacks are no longer setbacks but deeper chances for learning and engagement.

This approach to learning is called a growth mindset. Educators, coaches and psychologists have learned adopting a growth mindset’s one of the keys to success. Transformational leaders and visionaries (those guys with the Midas touch) focus on the positive and possess a growth mindset.

In our Year of Transformation program, Adopting a Positive, Growth Mindset is a key focus.

Make a conscious choice of a growth mindset, over a fixed mindset. Most of us have a fixed mindset. Oh we don’t mind learning something new or even taking a class or seminar periodically, but we’re not passionately curious and really stretching ourselves on a daily basis. We aim for a goal, achieve it, and are content to coast for an indefinite period afterwards. In other words, we engage as a shorter-term tactic to get what we want. We may engage to become a black belt in karate, to secure a plum position with our organization or to find a romantic partner. Once we get what we want, though, we disengage. What we’re suggesting is adopting a growth mindset if you want to sustain engagement past an endpoint.

Live your life as an experiment! This is the essence of the assignment way of living at Wright. This attitudinal shift can foster engagement by getting you out of your routine. Engagement thrives on novelty and an experimental perspective allows you to test all sorts of new endeavors. Too often, we feel that we have to do certain things and follow certain paths. We create all sorts of boundaries that prevent us from venturing into uncharted territory where we could engage in ways that we don’t, when we are following well-trodden paths.

You may recall a world class transformer, R. Buckminster Fuller, who is perhaps best known as the inventor of the geodesic dome. However, Fuller was also a philosopher, engineer, poet, educator and Renaissance man. He talked about living his life as an experiment designed to discover how he might benefit humankind. He formalized this experiment by referring to himself as Guinea Pig B. With this life-changing approach, Fuller was able to engage deeply in a myriad of endeavors. He filled his life with novelty and fostered in himself wide-ranging intellectual and emotional involvement. His ideas and inventions did indeed benefit humankind, thus fulfilling his experiment’s mission.

Be like Bucky Fuller and live your life as an experiment, engaging in all you do and harvesting more of the infinite possibilities available to you. When we engage in our life project as our personal experiment, we make discoveries—a key element of the Transformed process.

-from Transformed! The Science of Spectacular Living

If you’re ready for a more engaged, more fulfilling life of getting what you want, join us for an upcoming workshop or event. Our free workshops on Emotional Intelligence or a free coaching consultation can help guide you toward your next steps. Please visit us at The Wright Foundation for more information!

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The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.