How easy is it to be, and remain positive in our real world?

A cheesy line that my husband used on me during our courtship days was “My attitude is my blood group. B(e) positive!” I must admit the funny line had me in splits but what was (far) more impressive is his ability to see the ‘sunny-side up' in the most dismal of situations.

Is positive thinking a virtue only some of us seem to have, while the rest of us crib and curse, then start all over ranting and raving through life? Or again, is ‘think positive, stay focused' only a part of boardroom banter, part of self-help books or corporate pep talk? Think again.

A lot of positive thinking has unconsciously become a part of our routines. We go to bed each night, setting our alarm clocks to wake up in time to do all the things we plan for the day. And yet there is no guarantee that we will be alive to see the next morning.

No pain no gain

Women go through nine long months, waddling, tired and nauseous for the most part bearing the kicks of a growing human inside them, knowing child birth is painful and yet staying positive. And sure enough, that little miracle of life (pink cheeks, delicate fingers et al) turns all those negative emotions right on its head. We exchange sacred wedding vows at the altar, positively believing that together, with our better halves, we have what it takes to make the relationship blossom and mature into a truly lasting marriage.

“The important thing is to be aware of all the emotions that you face in a given situation and understand the reason for negative emotions. But it's more important to isolate those thoughts and focus on the positive aspects to propel you forward,” says T. Zacharias. He adds, “I firmly believe in the adage that in adversity lies opportunity, and situations like the time when my dad suffered a heart attack, I had the choice of either ruminating on the negatives or stepping up to the situation and providing the emotional, financial and psychological support that was the need of the hour for the rest of the family. Of course being a twenty-something year old at the time, it was hard, but it felt great to live up to it and come out a more evolved and better human being!”

Adding a different perspective is Ravi Raman, who works with an MNC, “In my view, positive thinking is about being able to give 100 per cent to the task on hand without being distracted by fear of failure, or euphoria about a potential success.” He adds, “A lot of conversation on positive thinking revolves around the interpretation that positive thinking is about thinking that the best will happen and the worst will miss us. Unfortunately that is not positive thinking. It's only “wishful thinking” or simple day dreaming.”

Aditya James, adding a philosophical twist says, “Positive thinking is that ability each of us possesses but often fails to use. If one does realise that he/she is the master of his/her thoughts and has the drive to go after what they believe in, there will be no force on earth that can stop them from achieving that goal. People like Gandhiji and Nelson Mandela stuck to what they believed in and the fruit of their positive thinking was rewarded with success and greatness which chased them down!” he says.

So an unscheduled power cut on a lazy Sunday morning doesn't mean you kick the couch in frustration. It just gives you the chance of some ‘quality' time on the couch with a cuppa and a favourite book. A bumper-to-bumper traffic jam with two noisy kids in a car can just means some worthwhile family-nursery-rhymes and entertainment time. And of course the last week of the trimester of pregnancy can be well spent watching the little brat inside moving and kicking around, even though your patience and positivity starts wearing out.

Cursing, kicking, abusing and rage are easy. But with a little bit of positive effort we can start to see the melting, syrupy oozing chocolate filling in the doughnut and not the gaping hole in the middle; or the glass which is actually half full.