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The Problem with Positive Thinking

Updated: Feb 1

Many people agree that to be successful you must think positive, but simply thinking positively and applying the ‘Law of Attraction’ alone, doesn’t always get you the results you desire.



There is some research that suggests that positive thinking on its own is not effective. In a study led by Lien Pham, a group of university students were asked to visualise getting a high grade in an exam. Surprisingly they got lower marks as they were less motivated to work and subsequently studied less. Similarly, repeating statements like ‘I am a beautiful person’ to yourself in a mirror did not bring about the desired results, only making people feel worse about themselves if they didn’t truly believe what they were saying.


Generally, negative thinkers will picture all the things that can go wrong, making them more anxious, leading to lower expectations. Some however, will transform their anxiety into action and will motivate them to try harder.


The world also needs people who think negatively who anticipate the worst and prepare us all for it. Negative thinking will help avoid danger and improve inventions; a critical eye can uncover flaws that can be fixed.


Thinking positively might help make bad events more bearable, but it is not a miracle fix. Equally, always trying to stop negative thinking can inadvertently cause more frustration, negativity, denial or neglect.


Both types of thinking are not healthy in their respective extremes. The secret to success is not linked to thinking positively or negatively, but rather choosing a strategy that matches your thinking style and simply putting it into action.


The saying “When it is raining lemons, make lemonade”, does not refer to thinking about lemonade, or wishing that you never got lemons, or that you got greener ones or sweeter ones, but its essence is about taking action and making something work with what you got.



To get a positive outcome in life, a series of actions is necessary and without it, there is little chance you will ‘attract’ the success you deserve. Find out what type of thinker you are, and work with it to achieve what you desire.

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