When Positive Thinking Isn’t Positive

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?  Four.  Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.  ~Abraham Lincoln

Wait. What? Did I just say that— That positive thinking isn’t always positive?

Yes, I said it. Don’t get me wrong…I have always been an optimist because I definitely prefer optimism over pessimism. However, I still stand by my statement that positive thinking isn’t always positive.

So, when is positive thinking not positive? When it is Optimistic Denial.

So, what is the difference? First of all, let’s consider that positive thinking is really optimal thinking. In other words, finding the good in a situation, recognizing the not so good in a situation, and making conscious choices based in reality.

Optimal thinking can find the opportunity in the experience, even when the experience was less than optimal.

On the other hand, optimistic denial can look a lot like positive thinking, and can masquerade as a positive attitude, but really it is closer to being a big fat lie.

Because optimistic denial won’t be honest about what isn’t working.

Optimistic denial smiles a lot and says things are great when they aren’t great, or just concedes that, “all relationships have problems”, or “every career has its downside”, etc.

On the other hand, optimal thinking allows one to find the best way out of a bad situation while gleaning every possible lesson to be learned from it, while optimistic denial keeps people stuck in difficult relationships and unsatisfying careers.

The truth is, not all relationships have problems, and there are plenty of people who don’t see a downside to their career.

Here’s the thing, we have to be willing to be honest with ourselves about where we are, and how we feel.

Then we can use optimal thinking to move forward and make positive changes.

Here’s to Optimal Thinking,


photo credit: Idea Go

This entry was posted in Coaching, General, Life balance, Personal Growth, relationships. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to When Positive Thinking Isn’t Positive

  1. terri beaucoudray says:

    Understanding and utilizing “Optimal Thinking” truly empowers a person. This is a life changing article and I hope everyone takes it to heart.

    • admin says:

      Thanks for reading, Terri. I agree that empowerment is a result of applying this concept. I appreciate your thoughts so much. 🙂

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