How effective is positive thinking?

Is positive thought a psychological stimulus or a mental sedation?

When a personal crisis arises, the phrase “think positive” is commonly suggested to those involved.

Have these words become just a cliché, or have they practical value?


Holding a positive thought is usually defined by the average practitioner as thinking of the opposite state. In other words, if a prevailing condition, or circumstance, is believed to be bad or adverse, it is then declared to be negative.

By “negative” is meant that it negates, opposes, or interferes with some goal, objective, or state which is desired. Consequently, the opposite, the positive thought, is the wish and the image of the preferred condition.


But is this pleasing mental picture going to provide the necessary or desired result? Will the mere thought of a wanted improvement or the dissolution of a situation actually bring it about?

Positive thinking which does not go beyond the simple positive thought can only bring disappointment to those people who believe in just that.


Practical metaphysics advocates holding positive thoughts when confronted with adversity. However, this approach goes beyond what many of its adherents understand or actually do. The popular metaphysical principle is generally construed to mean that the positive thought is projected into the Universal or Cosmic Mind; and thereafter in some mysterious way, the thought, like a missile, will destroy all the negative opposition.


Psychologically, this attitude is vicarious; simply, it is the transference of one’s problems to another realm and power for solution. The individual is making what they consider to be a Supreme Force or Intelligence servile to themselves.

If cosmic laws are involved in acting to correct an unjust or adverse condition, the individual, in just transferring the thought, is in effect disassociating themselves from the essential laws.


In metaphysics and true mysticism, the Cosmic or Universal Mind is not an agency of detailed solutions for human perplexities. It has not an alphabet, nor does it communicate in languages. Rather, as a source of stimulation of the human intellect, it is a factor in the illumination of the mortal mind. It does not provide an accretion of new ideas, but rather causes a rearrangement of the individual1s thought.

The conscious thought of the individual and the related latent ideas in his or her subconscious become a material factor in the clarity necessary to bring about the desired effect.


Analysing the Thought


This kind of aid requires the full cooperation of the individual. We must realise that we are part of the mechanical process by which the success we hope for can be had.

Holding a thought, therefore, entails more than the mere mental vision of attainment. It requires an analysis of one’s objective.

For example, is one’s desire contrary to the natural laws of health of body and mind? Is it opposed to the welfare of society? Further, is it contrary to one’s moral standards, a suppression of one’s conscience?


Providing that the “positive thinker” believes that his or her objective is meritorious, the next step, then, is to reduce that objective, that which he or she wishes to realise, into the components of which it consists.

Nothing desired is complete in itself unless it consists of essential elements.

For instance, suppose one holds the thought that he or she may obtain a home in the future. That thought depends upon many factors. In other words, what things should be done to first achieve this goal? Has thought been given to the time factor, employment, current available funds, subsequent obligations which would be incurred?


Realising Our Objective


These factors would need to be resolved, fall into place like the parts of a jigsaw puzzle.

Most important is the first positive thought one has. It is this essential thought with which reason should concern itself. This thought should be projected, informing us as to how to go about realising our objective; simply, what steps should be taken to accomplish it.


In holding such a principal element of your objective in mind and at the same time personally seeking the help of greater judgment, you are making yourself a partner with the deeper insight of your subconscious; you are opening the channels of consciousness. Realising this, you are then probing all the latent, forgotten experiences that may, in some way, be related to your objective.

You likewise may become more sensitive to any thoughts of others that are sympathetically related to your own. Your thought, clearly understood and imaged if possible, is figuratively acting like a magnet.

It attracts to it all impressions having a similar nature. Such impressions are not in themselves complete ideas, but act as a force that reaches down and rearranges the existing thought in your conscious mind, thus bringing a new order of clarity and comprehension.


Each element of a whole idea coming into the consciousness will associate with others of the unsolved problem, thus aiding in bringing about a solution. Holding a positive thought, then, is really a constructive mental-building project.

One must realise that he or she cannot expect help in solving a problem if it is not thought out fully.

Even when one has analysed a desire, defining its components and, if possible, imaging them mentally, a satisfactory conclusion may still not be forthcoming. The next step is to go through a process of reaching further and deeper into consciousness with each component.

The greatest aid for the individual lies beyond in the depth of the subconscious, which is a channel of the Universal, Cosmic Consciousness. There is a time lapse for the rearrangement of one’s thought under the influence of the cosmic-subconscious process.

The seeming delay is often due to the complexity of the thought which the individual holds in mind. A persistent attempt to force a satisfactory conclusion of one’s thought by continued concentration will seldom succeed.

Simply, such an act only arrests the idea in the conscious mind. Its greater intensity obstructs the flow of cosmically aroused impressions which are needed for the super-judgment they can induce.

For analogy, at times most everyone is aware of the futility of trying to remember a name or an event. But then, some time after the effort is abandoned, the answer will suddenly flash into consciousness with great clarity.

It is obvious that just “holding a thought” whose intricacies are not fully understood is futile.


A thought may not be positive merely because it is your desire if, as said, it is in opposition to natural laws, or because of other conditions mentioned above; for then it is negative.

Further, another person may hold a thought for action which is contrary to your own. The elements of his thought, however, may be more harmonious with prevailing conditions than yours. Therefore, it is positive in contrast to your own.


Positive, in the ordinary psychological sense of the word, indicates dynamism, activity, and fulfilment of an effort or intent. For example, to stop, to prevent crime is positive in action. To vote against, to defeat a bad legislative proposition, is also positive. Such are actions to produce a constructive result.

There is no magic in just saying, “Hold a positive thought.”

Adaptation of “How effective is positive thinking? Thought of the Month” By the Imperator. From the Rosicrucian Digest, January 1983

2 thoughts on “How effective is positive thinking?

  1. I’ve been browsing through positive thinking posts in an effort to clarify my own understanding of the concept. Your question about it becoming a cliche captured my attention as I was considering that thought as well. Thanks for posting this discussion… I found it an appetizing meal for my hungry mind. Fergy

    Like

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