When things go terribly right

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I just answered a huge batch of emails, and there’s a question that keeps getting asked:

“How did you learn all this [stuff you write about on the blog?] Did it come to you in one big epiphany, or a bunch of little ones? Was there a *big* one?”

I’ve been totally fascinated by the topic of human quality of life for twelve years now, and I’ve been writing about it for four. Throughout that stretch of time, I’ve had lots of little breakthroughs and each one left something to build on.

The biggest one of all happened last fall. The feeling of being me changed drastically, over only a couple of days. Life lost its normal mildly-threatening background hum. Today, in almost any given moment I actually feel prepared for the rest of my life. That used to be a rare feeling.

It happened to me when I was experimenting with the much-maligned Law of Attraction, which I am still agnostic towards, but I hit on something that was very out-of-character for me at the time.

I decided to expect everything to go well, for no reason at all.

And generally things did. Everything generally went very well for no discernible reason. Almost everything I did ended up being easier than I thought and more rewarding than I thought, once I decided not to bother thinking about things going badly.

That sums up the best advice I could give anyone: think a lot about what you want, and think only sparingly about what you don’t want.

My whole life I felt like I had some sort of duty to think about what I don’t want, as if it must be helpful in some way, or that somehow it’s healthiest to keep a “balanced” outlook by tempering positive expectations with negative ones.

For about four months I’ve refused to entertain thoughts about what I don’t want, as a rule. I wanted to see what would happen if I just ditched them all as soon as I noticed them.

Instead of everything falling apart, everything started coming together. I found myself doing things I’d been afraid to do for years. It started to feel good to wake up — throughout my whole adult life my first waking thought was almost always a worrisome one.

Normal moments became easy and beautiful. Tough moments tend to make me lucid and patient now. Almost all my remaining social anxiety disappeared. My aversions shrank, my attractions grew. The outside world at large became damn attractive to me, when it used to feel vaguely menacing most of the time.

After thirty years of taking negative thoughts seriously, I felt a little like the doomsayers must have after the recent Mayan non-apocalypse — my model of reality was wrong, and I’d be embarrassed to have wasted so much energy on it if I wasn’t so thrilled to finally get it right.

I can’t believe how prominent imaginary bad outcomes were in my life. Most of my life was spent picturing every kind of disaster, from embarassment to maiming, virtually of it habitual, draining and useless. 

When I’m in a bad mood (which still happens and will always happen) then my negative impulses can get a hold of me again. But the odd funk is okay. Generally I’m only interested in thinking about what I want, if I’m thinking at all. There’s not much value in thinking about what you don’t want.

You will always be visited by some of both kinds of thoughts. I’m not saying negative thoughts shouldn’t be appearing in your mind. Having a thought is something that happens to us. It’s involuntary. But thinking about something is something we actively do. We just do it so habitually that we usually don’t consciously decide to go on thinking about something. But we can think about certain things on purpose, and by doing that we can interrupt our thinking about something we ought not to bother exploring.

Doing it takes some practice. It will be different for everyone, but I adapted quickly, because it was such a relief to realize I have no duty to think about what I don’t want, and nothing to gain from it anyway.

The Simplest Trick

Think of it as a simple habit: When you notice you’re thinking about what you don’t want again, take that moment as a chance to think about what you do want.

Thinking about what you do want is a matter of asking yourself what it would be like if things went the way you wanted. This isn’t hard, but you aren’t going to do it by accident. You’re probably pretty good at imagining what it would be like if your presentation went terribly, if your return to the gym turned into a public embarrassment, if you got laughed at when you asked for a raise. We get a lot less practice thinking about what we want. The Simplest Trick is a way to get that practice at the exact moment you need it most.

Angst is the red flad that tells you your attention is necessary here. Whenever you notice yourself feeling angst, it’s because you’re thinking about what you don’t want — you’re experiencing an imaginary moment where something painful or difficult is happening.

Thinking about what you want is fun. It’s always a relief to remember that you can, and that you can safely interrupt the angsty train of thought and never get back to it. In fact, it’s worth sitting for a few minutes every day, just to think about things you want. It feels good, and makes the world look good again. This is outstanding use of your time. The go-to book for that kind of visualization is called Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain. It’s a bit dated by now and has new-agey tones, but you can do it your way.

Give up on the idea that thinking about what you don’t want serves a purpose. Negative thoughts are essentially useless except to suggest what rational, helpful actions you can take.

Few thoughts result in actions. Most are compulsive, empty busywork for the mind. Your head will be full of something most of your life, and there’s an unlimited variety of awful imaginary moments you can experience. Same goes for good imaginary moments. Do you think it makes more sense for most of your thoughts to be ones that give you knots in your solar plexus and an increased heart rate, or ones that make you feel calm and grateful?

There may be times when you feel like you really ought to be thinking about a particular thing you don’t want. Maybe some terrible injustice happened to you or someone close to you, and you feel like it’s wrong not to think about it. In those cases, when you notice you’re justifying your miserable thoughts, ask yourself what you’re actually going to do about this injustice. Chances are you’re not prepared to do anything. If you are, then do it, and in the mean time, explore in your mind some outcome you actually want.

The for no reason at all aspect is important, otherwise you’ll talk yourself out of it. This is a habit that turned out to be immensely rewarding in my life, but I had to just try it because I was curious. Reason never would have convinced me to do it.

That’s because to a pessimist, thinking about what you don’t want feels reasonable. You don’t even realize you’re doing it.

From watching the people around me, I’m convinced most people are pessimists. Just listen to what they talk about most.

There are no realists. Everyone thinks they’re being realistic. Nobody has an objective view of their thinking. Pessimistic thoughts feel realistic to a pessimist. Optimistic thoughts feel realistic to an optimist. If you think you’re a realist you’re probably a pessimist, because obviously you’ve found a reason to tone down expectations.

Expect things to go well. You don’t need a reason first.

If you’re worrying that this will make you one of those obnoxious Law of Attraction people, I’d advise you to stay out of that debate entirely. Don’t take a side. Doing what I’m suggesting here is not the same as waving a particular flag or adopting a particular set of beliefs.

Some of us grew up with science-teacher dads and can sometimes be persistently skeptical. We don’t want to believe that it makes sense to expect things to go well for no reason at all. Once you make a habit of it you’ll realize it’s beyond worthwhile, and forget you ever had reservations about it — but that’s what all the snake-oil salesmen say. (Not that anyone’s asking you to part with any money here.)

Do your expectations have the ability to transmute what happens to you, beyond your normal, physical sphere of control? I don’t know. They certainly seem to though. If you’re the skeptical type, don’t be tempted to presume it doesn’t.

You don’t know, and to admit that you don’t know is exhilarating. The most skeptical position is an agnostic one. Be skeptical of what your doubts tell you, too.

Set your reason aside for a bit. It may not always be helping you. Make a habit of consciously thinking about what you do want, as your normal response to noticing you’re thinking about what you don’t want.

Find the positive counterpart. It’s always there. Picture its details, the more physical the better. What you’re looking for is the unmistakable sense of how it would feel if it all went utterly, terribly right.

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Photo by Sterlic

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{ 85 Comments }

kudy February 24, 2013 at 11:37 pm

You’re inspirational. I have tried this many times before, and I know I’ll get past the negativity eventually. I don’t like my reputation as a catastrophizer.

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Bernadette Parker February 25, 2013 at 12:02 am

I just completed a week-long workshop by Peter Ralston, author of “The Book of Not Knowing”. Beliefs and patterns of thinking run us, and it’s worth taking a good look at who we are and why we think and behave the way we do, convinced we’re in control of both thought and behaviour. The book is about getting behind all that, not just swapping one set of beliefs for another!

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Shar February 25, 2013 at 1:37 am

My mind went pessimist mode while reading this. Damn it. It said something along the lines of thinking only of what I want is narcissistic, and it’s absurd to think that I will always get what I want, especially if I have no talent for it (cough singing) and I will never achieve ridiculous dreams. Like becoming a 1-hit wonder. Kidding. Now my pessimist brain is being unrealistic.

But I’m not entirely sure this isn’t either. Or my pessimism just pervades EVERYTHING.

Shar

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David February 26, 2013 at 6:45 am

I think that’s pretty normal. A lot of us have this martyr complex where we believe that thinking about what we want is selfish, and dwelling on what we don’t want is somehow helpful and righteous.

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Vilx- February 25, 2013 at 2:58 am

This resonates with what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Not sure what this will add to the article, but I wish to write this out of my system, and maybe someone will even bounce my ideas back to me. :)

I think this has to do about our motivation to do things. There are always two and only two ways of making someone do something (anything). The proverbial carrot and stick. The carrot represents something positive that you think will happen if you do thing X. The stick is the negative thing that you expect to happen if you don’t do thing X. Pleasure and pain and all that stuff. That’s how neural networks are built, no way around it.

Now, in myself I have observed that the stick is usually more efficient. It makes logical sense too – if you think about the alternative (what happens when you don’t do X), then, in the case of a stick, you’ll end up worse than you are now, but in the case of a carrot, you’ll still be where you are now. So the “safest” thing to do when you are threatened by a stick is to do X, but when you are presented with a carrot, not doing X will always be safe (and _maybe_ doing X will be safe too, but that’s not usually the case).

As a result, when we need to get something done, most people tend to favor the stick rather than the carrot for motivation. It starts in our childhood where our parents use “if you don’t do X then…” and by the time we’re adults we’re so used to it that we rarely try to do something else. (And I’m a parent too, and I notice myself doing this far more often than I’d like. Old habits die hard.)

But there is a price for the stick. Firstly, it only works for short terms. In myself I’ve noticed that I can motivate myself with fear only for about 2 weeks or so (for a single task). After that either the fear dulls (and isn’t efficient) or you get so nervous that you cannot concentrate anymore anyway. I’ve seen other people bear it better, but they all get worn out from it anyway. So all in all, this might work for an end-of-project rush, but not as something to live by. In the few projects that I’ve seen where this was attempted as a primary motivator, almost everyone quit after the project was done.

But far more importantly, the stick breeds pessimism. It gives that constant gray background of fear. And you even start to become afraid of carrots, which, as a rule, tend to be risky, since most good things in life carry a risk with them.

And this in turn results in not achieving anything – neither for oneself nor others. When you get so focused on all the sticks, you tend to do only as much as is necessary to avoid them, but don’t go the extra mile to get the carrot. Because that’s not safe. Because the constant fear makes all the risks look much larger than they actually are.

And the perception of success is altered too. When you’re motivated by a stick, then success is perceived as “Phew, I avoided that stick. All is normal now. I want to forget about the whole thing and just relax now”. Failure is perceived as “Noooooo!”

On the other hand, when you were motivated by a carrot, then a failure is perceived as “Oh, well, back to the drawing board. Everything is still normal” while success is “Waaaaahooooooo! I wanna do it again!”

So, in a nutshell, sticks motivate to stay in one, safe place, while carrots motivate to go forward.

It’s very subtle, of course. The mind is very good at masking it’s own emotions and justifying them with reasons. And fear has a way of not letting you go of it. Unless we really think about it, most of the time we don’t even realize we’re using a stick to make ourselves do something.

But I’m convinced that if you truly wish to live a happy life, you need to let go of that fear, and start looking at the carrots rather than the sticks, as you’ve so well described in this article. Or rather – find a balance between the two. Ignoring all the risks isn’t healthy either. But it’s the carrots that give us a positive background of life and it’s the sticks that give a negative one.

I’m still looking for the carrots. It’s hard to see them between all the sticks. It’s a trick of mind I’ve yet to learn. But at least feel like I know where I should go. :P

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Monika February 27, 2013 at 7:11 am

Your comments make so much sense to me; particularly when you added the childhood reference. I like the way your are thinking.

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HansE March 20, 2013 at 4:16 pm

I agree with most of what you said, but I see two things mixing up here. Motivation and outlook. The carrot/stick analogy is a great recounting of typical positive/negative reinforcement therapy. Negatively correcting a behavior works only for a little while, but the action will repeat after some time has gone by. Positively responding to the correct behavior lasts much longer, but it is trickier to deliver. Parenting is a great field for testing this. We scold and ground when kids do something bad, this habit has gone on for thousands of years. Today we are being told to try rewarding the good behaviors more, and don’t rely on punishing to correct bad behaviors. In the office project environment, managers can motivate employees by threatening them with firing, demotions, loss of some bonus or award, and this gets them working unhappily while growing resentment for their job. They will eventually move on, steal from the company, back-stab their manager, etc.
About outlook on life, David’s article focuses on simply stopping the internal dialogue where you wake up with the first bad thought of the day and continue all day long. Example, wake up thinking, ‘I hope traffic isn’t terrible, I don’t want to be late again this week’, ‘Last time I went to the budget meeting, my manager got chewed out for high costs on billboards, I designed those billboards. I don’t want to lose my contract!’. One more, ‘What if my car breaks down this year, I can’t afford to buy a new one’.
Now without thinking too hard about these things I pulled out of a hat 2 seconds ago, let me see if I can’t change my outlook. ‘I hope I’m not late again… let’s think of this differently. I went to bed a little late, that’s why I’m getting up late, groggily leaving late and arriving late. I know exactly why it happened but I want to wake up fresh and have the feeling there is plenty of time to get ready and go. Let me set my alarm a few minutes early so I can have an extra 10 minutes to wake up nicely. Plus if I decide to go to be only 30 minutes earlier, it won’t take much away from my nighttime routine.’ Drop the negative and focus on a new positive ‘what I want to happen’ thought.

‘Last time in the budget meeting… hmm it went bad but that’s only because I wasn’t watching my costs. I want to find a better deal on printing and see if we can’t work something out for long term, maybe work out an agreement to contract the same printer for our next 3 projects. That could flip this around and save our department money.’ Hmm, not too terrible taking a ‘don’t want to happen’ and turning it into ‘what do I want to happen instead?’

Last one, ‘What if my car breaks down… well, I need to take a better look at how I’m maintaining my car. I rely on it and it’s a machine that will always break. Thousands of moving parts wear out so I need to be realistic. If I book a preemptive check-up at the garage, I’ll be able to catch anything major before it happens.’ I think this one is a bit off, but in the right direction. Negative thoughts only serve a purpose if you are trying to figure out what you will do about them, then go do it.

I guess I had to write this out of my system as well :)

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DiscoveredJoys February 25, 2013 at 4:07 am

Another interesting article. Attitude is so terribly important and I’m a great believer in giving myself a small gap between an event and my response to craft my response rather than accept the automatic one (which could be pessimistic by ‘default’).

I’d recommend boosting your optimism by making a smile your default reaction, especially to remembered pain or embarrassment. You can give a wide grin (I survived!), a smile, a smirk, a smile of relief, a faint twitch of the lips; you don’t have to grin like a loon all the time. It is very difficult to start thinking dark thoughts if you are smiling 8^)

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David February 26, 2013 at 6:47 am

The default reaction thing works for me. I don’t smile, but I do soften inwardly.

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Nathan February 25, 2013 at 6:11 am

This is article would have to be one of my least favourite on Raptitude. Firstly I believe the agnostic stance on the law of attraction doesn’t go far enough. The idea preys on the weak and vulnerable and makes the pseudoscientific evangelist bucket loads of money when the idea has no scientific merit, empirical evidence or even an ability to be reliably tested. The way I see it is that people who believe in this law have only changed their perception to recall pleasant outcomes a lot more frequently than bad ones. But truly there is no good or bad and only thinking makes it so. Therefore unwind and unplug. You are free people. You are not some cyborg plugged into the matrix of the law of attraction! Breathe, meditate and be mindful.

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Vilx- February 25, 2013 at 7:18 am

I think that what David was trying to say wasn’t an advertisement of LoA. It was rather an advice on how to make yourself happier by focusing more on the positive and choosing to ignore as much negative as reasonably possible.

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David February 26, 2013 at 6:49 am

Many people have an over-the-top allergic reaction to any mention of the LoA. For the record I was not advocating it, and thinking less about what you don’t want can be done by anyone regardless of their stance on it. Try not to miss the point here.

See George Altman’s comment below.

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Maia February 25, 2013 at 6:36 am

Great post David, one of my favourites.
You are right and you’ve put it in a way that has clicked in my mind.
What’s the point in thinking about the things you don’t want instead of the things you do want? I guess perhaps in a way it’s a habitual way of thought for some, perhaps because we think that by imagining the worst case scenario we can only then be pleasantly suprised if it goes right. We’ll be prepared for the worst.
Statistically they say that people end up hitting trees in car crashes because they don’t want to hit them. They think so much about not wanting to hit them, that they end up hitting them. Perhaps the mind doesn’t distinguish whether you want something or not, it just sees the image of what you are thinking of and brings you towards it.
My friend always used to say, ‘don’t look forward to anything, because then that way if it doesn’t happen the way you imagine it, you won’t be dissapointed’, but perhaps the complete opposite is true.
Just yesterday, I spent time thinking I don’t want this or that, but as you say if I spent the same amount of time thinking about what I do want perhaps I would have clearer ideas in my mind about what my goals are and then actually make steps towards them.
Thanks for the post.

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David February 26, 2013 at 6:51 am

For me it’s quite simple:

1) I notice I’m anxious

2) That makes me realize I’m thinking about exactly what I don’t want

3) I remind myself this is a perfect time to forget that (because it’s going nowhere) and think about what I want, knowing I will deal with whatever happens best if I’m not living in fear.

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Milda February 25, 2013 at 7:31 am

This makes so much sense! It pinpoints precisely what I’ve been feeling lately about my creative process, although I couldn’t have put it in words, so I was really glad to see this article. I always feel that when I focus more on what I want, which is to be a published author and actually make a living out of it, I actually get things done and move forward, as opposed to only getting the worrying done when I think how highly unlikely it is to achieve my goal- or plan, if I stay positive.

I also love how the comments are almost as good to read as the article itself, I really wish I knew more blogs like this one! :)

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David February 26, 2013 at 6:54 am

> always feel that when I focus more on what I want, which is to be a published author and actually make a living out of it, I actually get things done and move forward, as opposed to only getting the worrying done when I think how highly unlikely it is to achieve my goal

This has been one of the biggest benefits for me. There’s a very important goal I had put off for years because I kept thinking about all the potential snags and downsides. So it never happened I stayed paralyzed. This year I’m actually doing it. It’s happening right in front of me.

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Kenneth February 26, 2013 at 9:55 am

Yes. Just think and move in the direction of what you want. As simple as that. Fear and paralysis are the enemy. Take baby steps in thoughts and action towards what you really want.

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AnnieKate February 25, 2013 at 8:10 am

A very timely post, David: just this morning as I spent time centering, I noticed how often my thoughts drifted to worries and potential problems – I say “potential”, but my goodness, how far my catastrophising imagination has already built them up! I also noticed the immediate physical effects: tensing up, heart beating faster and stomach churning. All that just for the THOUGHT of something that MIGHT happen! Crazy. I’ve realised over the past few years that my body hyper-reacts to threat or conflict. There’s not much I can do about the physiological reasons for that, but your article reminds me that I can help myself as much as possible by awareness of my thoughts – not only not allowing the negative ones to blossom, but – and this is the bit I haven’t worked on so much – deliberately choosing to replace them with more positive ones – not everything-is-wonderful-and-I’m-going-to ignore-reality ones, which I can’t do anyway because of the voice that immediately says “who do you think you’re kidding?”, but to engage with the equal possibility that a situation might work out well rather than badly, or to remind myself of the many good things already in my life or in prospect, which always, in fact, far outweigh the negatives.

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Rosa February 25, 2013 at 8:32 am

Well…thank you! This is an awesome reminder I needed today.

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Dragline February 25, 2013 at 10:21 am

Congrats on your self-discovery! It is ancient wisdom that positive thoughts are a necessary (but not sufficient) step in creating a positive reality. If you have never read James Allen’s classic “As A Man Thinketh”, I’d highly recommend it. http://jamesallen.wwwhubs.com/think.htm

Nonetheless, it is also true that “Affirmation without discipline is the beginning of delusion.” (– J. Rohn)

Some come to the disciplines first, as your blog reflects. Others come to the thought process (badly abused as “The Secret”, which was stolen from a Wallace Wattles book from 1909 that you can read for free here: http://www.soilandhealth.org/03sov/0304spiritpsych/030412.Wattle.Getting.Rich.pdf). Also lifted wholesale from Earl Nightingale: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Y5g2Pe08uc

Note — the older works on this are much better than the popular regurgitations from the past decade.

Each of positive thought and disciplined action has a value and works with the other, but neither works very well by itself.

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George Altman @ Mindful Matters February 25, 2013 at 10:23 am

David,
This is a really important post. It’s really clear from some of the comments how easy it is to get caught up in the LOA controversy. That part of our brains – the RAS (Reticular Activating System) is always looking for threats (which come in any form, including beliefs we can’t trust!) But this piece isn’t about subscribing to any belief – other than your own experience.

Fact is we’re in the early stages of neuroscience and we have no idea what results, short and long term, come from making a cognitive choice (which is what you are doing) to focus on one thing vs. another.
Certainly, when we imagine the worse we trigger one set of feelings – fear, anxiety, resentment, frustration, anger, vs another (optimism, contentment, enthusiasm. calmness, confidence). This is not to say that life can be free of challenges and so-called dark emotions (which can be a great source of wisdom and growth if we allow it) but when we choose (and this can be very challenging to do) to focus on

It’s not about signing up for a particular belief system (like LOA) it’s about not buying into the negatives ones that are simply accumulated cultural beliefs that we seem to live by as truth. Eckhart Tolle calls this the “pain-body” most people carry around.

As you put is so well “The for no reason at all aspect is important, otherwise you’ll talk yourself out of it. This is a habit that turned out to be immensely rewarding in my life, but I had to just try it because I was curious. Reason never would have convinced me to do it.

That’s because to a pessimist, thinking about what you don’t want feels reasonable. You don’t even realize you’re doing it.

From watching the people around me, I’m convinced most people are pessimists. Just listen to what they talk about most.” This is sad truth.

The proof – for you – is in your experience. Glad you shared it.

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Elizabeth February 25, 2013 at 10:37 am

On the LoA: I think that if I look at something (anything), and see it only as negative, then I will block myself to any positive aspect of it. If I choose to view an event that gives me angst with a positive twist instead, then when faced with this event I am in a mindset of opportunity, and have the potential to turn that event to my favor. Or at the very least, I can avoid enacting the ritual I already practiced. For example, my former boss was known for yelling at his employees. I had heard rumors of his temper many times, and every time I responded with angst and indignation at the idea of getting yelled at. I built up the event (which had not even occurred yet) in my imagination and I cultivated my response to it. When the boss finally did yell and curse at me, I was ready. All of my previous practice of angst and negativity came out in full force, and I felt terrible. If I had visualized (practiced) different emotions or actions in my head before being yelled at, then I would have responded to it differently. No doubt being yelled at is unpleasant, but perhaps I would have had calmer acceptance. Perhaps I would have had my phone ready to come out and record the encounter. Heh. Perhaps I would have been more present in the moment (rather than an active victim of the moment) and could have seen an opportunity to react differently. This is what the Law of Attraction means to me, in one way. It isn’t mystical mumbo jumbo. It’s practicing the ability to recognize alternate outcomes for a situation, and it works however I choose it to. I can let go of my portion of control by being unprepared for events; I can focus on what I don’t want and thus rehearse/practice that outcome (and feel a strange validation when it happens); or I can choose to focus on what I want, which cultivates my ability to recognize and utilize what is available. I think that if one views the world as mainly a friend, then they notice things in the world that can be used to their advantage. They think they are “attracting” it. I prefer to think I am keeping my eyes keen and open to opportunity. If I focus only on one kind of outcome, I am less likely to see others.

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Jackie February 25, 2013 at 10:42 am

Thank you for these insights, I needed to hear this today. I think that even if we don’t achieve or obtain exactly what we want, just the act of thinking about it will improve our outlook on life in general. I am a worrier and somewhat of a pessimist, married to a cynic. Sometimes it is difficult to keep an open mind, look at the bright side, and all that, with so much negativity floating around me. I just need to remember that I can control my thoughts, not what anyone else thinks. I can choose how to feel and what to think, I do not have to allow anyone else to make that choice for me! I remember reading a quote somewhere – People are as happy as they make up their minds to be (paraphrasing, of course).

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Courtney Lebedzinski February 25, 2013 at 10:45 am

I am loving this article! There are many explanations for why this technique works. If it’s hard for you to get your head around The Law of Attraction, there are other explanations. I think the best one is that our brains are goal-seekers, we feel and notice what we focus on.

When you’re thinking about buying a new Mercedes, you start seeing them everywhere! When did everyone decide to buy your car? Fact is, those carss have always been “everywhere,” but now that the car is your focus, you notice it. Same is true for expecting miracles in life. If positivity is your focus, you start to see everyday things as tiny miracles. Would those things have happened anyway? Maybe, maybe not. But now you recognize and appreciate them. That is one way we “manifest” our expectations.

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Shanna Carson February 25, 2013 at 10:47 am

Yes, the Law of Attraction really works, but reflects our dominant and most practiced thoughts. We can’t spend 5 minutes on a new thought and 23 hours and 55 minutes thinking the old thoughts and have anything change. If we want wealth, but constantly focus on our poverty, and we will reap poverty as a result of the Law of Attraction. And positive action is important as well.

We must also understand that the Universe works at its own speed. Although instant manifestation may sometimes happen, our desire will manifest in the universe’s timeframe rather than ours! It could even be that the universe knows that we are not yet ready to receive our desire.

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Robert G. Thilo, MD February 25, 2013 at 11:14 am

Thank you for your insightful post, David. You have shined a light on a very important aspect of the thinking mind. I especially like the responses here in the comments. The general theme for me points to the practice of mindfulness and cultivating nonjudgmental awareness. To see the distinction of “a thought” and “thinking about” opens the mind to further capacity for connecting with others. Self sees self indirectly through mirror neurons and the perceptions gleaned from others, presumably doing similar processes.

As William Blake said, “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”

Thanks to all, for these “chinks”!

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Crystal February 25, 2013 at 11:59 am

Your wisdom and thoughts are simply inspiring and motivating. You help me realize exactly what I need to do to live life fearlessly. Thank you so much, David. Also, yay! Raptitude finally has its own fan page! All the best to you!

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steph in berkeley February 25, 2013 at 12:13 pm

i think i like what you have to say, in part, because you have the mind of a skeptic/pessimist and the heart and spirit of an optimist. You have a way of satisfying both types/responses and bringing them together. It’s a tricky business and I can imagine your pessimist readers will test you at times, but you do a great job with presenting not only insightful, but balanced messages like this one.

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Tim Stobbs February 25, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Good post, I generally agree with what you said, expect one little part:

“Negative thoughts are essentially useless except to suggest what rational, helpful actions you can take.”

This isn’t entirely true, negative thoughts also prepare your mind to deal the emotional impact of a potential loss. It’s hardwire into us to and does serve the purpose to dull that emotional impact of loss if in fact it occur.

Also you have to consider how very little time we spend in the present, our mind has lots of spare thought time to run postive and negative outcomes to just about everything. Of course I agree you don’t need to dwell on the negative ones, but also don’t expect them to vanish would be my point. I guess the old line of hope for the best, but plan for the worst still applies.

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David February 26, 2013 at 7:02 am

This is true, and I do make use of conscious consideration of bad outcomes. For me it’s part of a gratitude exercise.

I think we have to be careful not to use this as an off-the-cuff way of rationalizing compulsive, unconscious negative thinking.

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Sun February 25, 2013 at 1:29 pm

I don’t entirely agree with your point of view, but then you are entitled to yours.
I ‘decided’ to follow the Law of Attraction, last year. I applied for a position, I was overqualified for. I knew it was a piece of cake for me and thus believed it. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind. I could already visualize myself at that place, doing what was expected of me. Alas! I didn’t get it, a colleague bagged it!!
Now tell me, how did it work for me?

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Rosey February 25, 2013 at 9:10 pm

It worked for you by you not getting it..

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David February 26, 2013 at 7:00 am

So you didn’t get one think you wanted and now you know how the cosmos operate?

It doesn’t matter. You don’t need to believe in the Law of Attraction to make use of what I’m saying here.

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Viv February 25, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Brilliant post. Have been thinking a lot about this kind of thing lately! I’ve always eschewed the LoA philosophy as being magical woo_woo thinking, but it doesn’t make sense to be constantly caught up and swept away by negative, doom-laden thoughts that don’t correspond with reality. I recently read Beyond Recovery by Fred Davies and there is a great exercise in it called the photographer, where you see your situation as though someone was looking at you and taking a photo, I.e without the thought story that is running (usually negative). What you would see would be the reality of what is happening, and 99.9% of the time nothing ‘bad’ would actually be happening. So, if you can change the script, why not? It may not change reality, but then neither would getting caught up in a story of doom gloom that isn’t labour what’s happening either!!

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Hamlet February 25, 2013 at 4:48 pm

At first glance, your latest blog post seems to go counter to Oliver Burkeman in his recent book, “The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking.” Chapter Two is on Seneca and the stoic art of confronting the worst-case scenario, wherein it is advised to imagine what’s the worst that could happen, and discovering things actually turn out not as bad as it might seem. This advice is itself counter to the excesses of the Power of Positive Thinking and the Law of Attraction.

So on second thought, this latest blog posting of yours is useful ballast to those who would become fanatic about the stoic attitude and outlook. As the philosopher Bertrand Russell said, (paraphrased) “Stoicism is a good philosophy for bad times, and a bad philosophy for good times.”

We human beings have trouble finding the right balance between positive thinking and negative thinking. Both are essential.

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Damir February 25, 2013 at 4:55 pm

@Sun
There is probably something better for you.

I really like this article. I have problems with thinking negatively all the time; I do it too much. I get too stressed out and hung up on what people think of me, so I go out of my way to impress others so that they would accept me. Always trying to be someone I’m not in order to be liked by people I shouldn’t even care about.

It’s been stressing me out for so long (YEARS) that now I don’t even realize that it’s stressing me. I’ve just become so conditioned into the same habitual thinking pattern so deeply that it became a part of me. After reading this article, and talking to a close friend about this, I’ve realized the cure; Taking it easy.

It’s actually that simple. Every time awesome things happen to me, it’s because I’m NOT CARING and am not focused on thinking “If I don’t get this/her/it then I will be really upset.”

That’s wrong. The best way to get anything accomplished is just to feel good, and in a relaxed way, go through it. Start slowly and work your way in until you feel comfortable, then as you get more accustomed to this new way, it will become easier and easier; those challenges you thought broke you will now feel like grains of sand on a warm sunny beach beneath your feet.

Just Chill Out.

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Kathy @ SMART Living 365 February 25, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Thank you David for another great post. This topic is a huge KEY to most of life’s challenges for creating a happy and peaceful life–that (golden) key is, “Instead of thinking about the problem–think about something positive or at least beneficial instead.” It’s been said dozens of ways but I sure need to hear it over and over (and obviously others who’ve commented feel the same!) It also reminds me of practicing “pro-noia.” You know what that is right? Paranoia (where the whole world is out to get you)–is opposite of Pro-noia which happens to be the extreme belief that the entire world is out to bring you good! Practice pro-noia and think about what is going right in your world.

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Amos Oliver Doyle February 25, 2013 at 6:15 pm

There is nothing new under the sun David. You might want to read “The Biology of Belief” by Bruce Lipton and then (I know this will be a turn-off for most young people today) read “The Power of Positive Thinking” written by Norman Vincent Peale many years ago, before you were born. You will find that you are not alone in your thoughts.

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Yitzhak February 25, 2013 at 6:45 pm

“The general theme for me points to the practice of mindfulness and cultivating nonjudgmental awareness.”

Exactly my thoughts.

Happy Purim from Jerusalem :)
Yitzhak

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Nitya February 25, 2013 at 10:42 pm

By focussing on positive outcomes you must be projecting an image of optimism and confidence. People respond to this in a positive way, thus confirming your stance. This is obviously a good thing, and better still, it’s working for you.

There is an opposing theory, that also works. Most people expect things to work out favourably; the train will arrive on time for you to meet your deadline, those tickets will come through the post, the areas you studied will show up on the test. When the stars are not aligned ( a frequent happening) it results in frustration or dismay. It’s possible to factor in the less-than-ideal eventualities and operate from that standpoint.

If the two contradictory modes of behaviour are taken on board in the right proportions it can ensure a happy mix. No need to accommodate a Law of Attraction mindset, when it clearly only works in a certain set of circumstances.

Good luck with your continued success and I hope that you achieve the outcomes you obviously deserve.

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Daniel February 26, 2013 at 3:02 am

Hey David Excellent article ! I have been dabbling in non-judgemental awareness for a while and this article really pushes me to the next level.

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David February 26, 2013 at 6:56 am
Fred February 26, 2013 at 8:23 am

This is exactly how professional golfers do what they do. They visualize the shot and then stand over the ball and make it happen. Their muscles have no option but to follow their brain.

The average golfer (of which I am one) worries about putting it in the woods, into the pond or missing it entirely. And guess what – that’s exactly what happens.

Saw Godin’s post and he’s on the money.

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Kenneth February 26, 2013 at 10:32 am

This alone was worth the read. We all have thoughts. But what is our thinking about? I’ve read that if we could just change our thinking to 55 percent positive, 45 percent negative, that would make a huge difference in our lives. I’ll take it on faith that it has made enough difference in David’s life that he wrote a nice blog entry about it.

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Kenneth February 26, 2013 at 3:31 pm

David, I know you are aware of Mr. Money Mustache, but you may not have read his post on Outrageous Optimism – one of his better works..

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/10/03/the-practical-benefits-of-outrageous-optimism/

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Hannah February 26, 2013 at 4:56 pm

This was a wonderful post, and just what I needed to read. I have mild anxiety and get stuck in cyclical negative thought processes. I want to know, in the case of where your negative thoughts are very sticky (for example, the more I think the negative thought, the more I don’t want it, which is also a negative thought, and it goes on and on) – do you try to ‘escape’ the thought or ‘suppress’ it? I’d like some tips as I have a hard time climbing out of the deep negative trenches, as I find myself feeling angry at myself for being negative, which definitely doesn’t help.

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Kenneth February 27, 2013 at 8:17 am

How about just doing what is in front of you to do, do it lovingly and do it well, concentrating on the activity in front of you, so that you shut down your racing mind. It could be work, could be making your bed, doing the dishes, playing with the kids etc.

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Hannah February 27, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Thanks Kenneth :) That does make sense. If I were to give an example, lately I have been almost ‘fantasising’ about a loved one passing away (who is very old, so I feel it’s justified as it’s inevitable). But I obsess over this negative thought so much, that I often am not in the moment or putting 100% into the people I am with. Thanks for your input.

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Angela February 27, 2013 at 5:09 am

Wicked post David. And actually, I believe when you get so many mixed responses I really think “bam, you’ve hit the mark” as it gets people riled up enough to write back and say but what about this and what about that. I bet there’s not a single person who read this post who hasn’t (even accidentally) been more positive for the day. I’m already working on this at the moment so it was a more than timely reminder.
The bit that resonated most for me…ever the optimist…was “There are no realists. Everyone thinks they’re being realistic. Nobody has an objective view of their thinking. Pessimistic thoughts feel realistic to a pessimist. Optimistic thoughts feel realistic to an optimist. If you think you’re a realist you’re probably a pessimist, because obviously you’ve found a reason to tone down expectations.”
I’ll be quoting that bad boy to every ‘realist’ I meet in the future.
Happy days.

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Kenneth February 27, 2013 at 8:15 am

Angela, remembering this quote won’t be easy. It doesn’t exactly roll off my tongue. But it is SO true for me. I’ve been stuck in the realist mindset for so long. The economy is imploding, social security won’t be there for us, hyperinflation will set in, I don’t have enough money, we are eternally at war, the world is not safe.. this seems realistic to me, and now I can see I am a PESSIMIST! I’ve just got to nudge my emotion and thoughts meter a few degrees north to the OPTIMIST side, consistently, and I’m sure my life will feel better and actually get better!

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Angela February 28, 2013 at 4:17 am

Kenneth,
Don’t worry you aren’t alone. I meet hundreds of people a year and so many feel the same way as you. It is a gradual change but one that I promise will lead to the most rewarding rainbow at the other end if you just keep on trucking towards “Optimist land”.

A wonderful way to think about things, thanks to the lovely Louise Hay, is just to imagine that you just want to get to 51% love and positivity. If every single day you try and reach for just one more positive thought (especially when the negative ones creep in) suddenly you’ll turn around one day and think…woohhhaa did I just have a day where I wasn’t dreading the state of the economy, worrying that my bank balance will be negative, or concerned that tree might fall on my head while I’m running around the common.
Really hope to hear about your progress!

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It Calls Me Onanon February 27, 2013 at 10:24 pm

Outcomes “don’t go badly” anymore because you aren’t perceiving them as “bad” anymore, not because there’s some sort of positive effect happening or that a “positive side” exists at all…

What you perceive as a positive thing happening is just a consequence that you have rationalized, circumstantially, to be beneficial to you. If you choose to perceive everything that happens as an absurd turd spinning in deep space — weirdly or disjointedly — guess what? The outcomes will be perceived as absurd.

This all sounds like you’re entertaining a head game that you’re playing with yourself. Oversimplifying the facets of life and why these things happen just so you can have a rhyme and reasoned structure to follow…

This blog attracts the crazies who get wrapped up in their convoluted ideological rationalizations because you are operating from the same place and justifying it by calling it the “street level.”

http://y2u.be/ZUdHX1Bent0

I think whatever happened to you to push you in this direction has only narrowed your focus and afforded you a whole new way to avoid confrontation and develop inwards, which is a really selfish way of looking at life and experiences.

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David February 27, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Don’t be rude.

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It Calls Me Onanon February 27, 2013 at 10:50 pm

I’m sorry if you perceive it as being rude. I sincerely think these things and can only be honest.

I use language in a way that exaggerates and I understand if, from one’s disposition, they understand it as offensive. All I can ask is to try to look beyond that and into the meaning.

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Ben February 27, 2013 at 11:02 pm

All I see ‘It Calls Me Onanon’ is that you yourself have a lot of limiting beliefs and ‘crap’ in your own head to make such a post to discourage and call anyone who is working on making a positive difference in their lives ‘crazies’.

-Ben

It Calls Me Onanon February 27, 2013 at 11:02 pm

This video is also num-nums, just sayin’.

http://y2u.be/lfxvH6WwV7U

It Calls Me Onanon February 27, 2013 at 11:04 pm

All I see from this post is someone presuming that they understand the way I operate. I also see someone that wants to discourage me from posting. Pretty ironical, actually.

It Calls Me Onanon February 27, 2013 at 11:11 pm

If my post discourages David to continue pushing for positives then his plan isn’t really working, is it? Seems kinda negative reaction to me…

Dragline March 1, 2013 at 7:36 am

Actually, I would take it as a positive sign, although marginally annoying and mostly amusing.

When your blog starts attracting trolls (turds in internet space perhaps?), it means that you are reaching a wider audience.

Key identifiers: comments on one’s own comments, ad hominem attacks (especially unprovoked), claims of “I’m just being honest so you must have a problem” (look at me, I’m Diogenes!), and the most tell-tale phrase of all — “just sayin’”. ROTFLMAO.

I’ll be quiet now — don’t want to hijack your blog. I thought your three-word response was most appropriate, though.

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It Calls Me Onanon March 1, 2013 at 8:28 pm

I suppose I’ll take some time to respond to this, although it looks like it’s something of a meaningless comment as it says nothing about the content of what I was talking about. I’m glad you agree with David but you haven’t said anything substantial, really.

You would take David being discouraged as positive? I’m curious to know why.

You make the claim that I’m acting as a troll, but from my experience of having dealt with them, they are generally someone who doesn’t consume the material provided and instead frequents somewhere for the sake of doing so without providing meaningful feedback, much like what you were doing. I often contribute to David’s blog and have engaged in constructive conversations, but I can see how you might make the generalization of my character from this particular comment. It’s funny!

But, as for the signs of a troll being the reply to one’s own comment, in any other communication format (such as Facebook) that allows for editing the original comment, it would be indicative of one’s own need to try to draw attention to their thoughts by creating a whole new reply for others to be aware of. However, on this particular blog, we aren’t allowed to edit and therefore can only reply to our original comments. It’s fairly limiting in that way.

If you knew my past discourse I’m sure you’d find that I try my best to contribute constructively where I can and that I have a very particular means of using language for emphasis.

Also, I was in fact being honest, but usually that gets the bricks and I just react accordingly ’cause I anticipate it. An Ad hominem, by the way, would be suggesting that I invalidated an argument by calling out the way the person is. If you read a little closer, you’ll find that I’m actually regarding the usual over-the-top rationalizations that occur on this blog from time to time and afterwards exaggeratedly calling the people crazy after reasoning. I’m honestly detailing what it appears to be juxtaposed against a healthy perspective.

Nice to chat, Diogenes.

Ben February 27, 2013 at 10:59 pm

Wow I really like the reframe of assuming everything will go well! What a great way to get rid of the fear of certain things. Mostly fear does come up for me because I am thinking of things that could go bad. Time to reframe this more.

-Ben

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Natalie February 28, 2013 at 11:42 pm

I love the way you write and think, and I definitely see the validity in the Law of Attraction. My question is though, how you’re able to manage your expectations. What’s the difference between being positive/optimistic and having unreasonable expectations?

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Tim March 2, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Hi David:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts…as always, very well written and well put. I’ve had conversations with friends in recent days about The Secret and the Law of Attraction with examples of how it worked for them. I, too, believe it works on some level. That being said, I’ve gone through some major challenges in the last few years and those negative thoughts have a way of trying to creep into my head more often than I’d prefer. I’ll keep trying…but I enjoyed your take on how this shift in thinking really helped you.

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Alica Starr March 4, 2013 at 3:23 am

I agree, and we should always stay positive despite the negativity we have in our lives. I can relate much on this post. :)

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J March 5, 2013 at 8:07 am

Hi David, could you please elaborate on the effects of expectations (which wil naturally result from these positive thoughts/focus on desires)? It would seem to appear that most of us tend towards negativity as a way of tempering expectations and avoiding disappointment in the long run. Would love to hear your thoughts on this since this is the biggest obstacle I face.

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ETZ-OR-7 March 6, 2013 at 9:41 am

I believe “Fatalism” to be the only true answer.

Fate- Destiny- What happens, happens.

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Sera March 7, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Fantastic! I love it when someone says exactly awesome things. And THAT was exactly awesome. Thanks for the casual reminder that focusing on positive outcomes is NOT the same thing as the Law of Attraction. Also, I enjoyed the subtle implication that it’s a constant thing instead of a morning ritual. That helps me focus on making it a habit of the mind.

Peace and Happy Thoughts,
Sera

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Burak March 14, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Hi David,

I can say that like most of your posts this one also has 2 super ingredients:
1- It has a really nice and beneficial content.
2- It is well put in a very concise and poetic way (this second one makes me jelous :p)

Just out of sheer curiosity, I wonder what it is which made you say : “There’s a very important goal I had put off for years…” and “…This year I’m actually doing it. It’s happening right in front of me.”

Lastly, it reminded me a wise quote that I read long ago (a rough translation of it):
“A person who sees the good in things has good thoughts. And he who has good thoughts receives pleasure from life.”

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A.Zerty March 21, 2013 at 8:42 am

Hi David,
This is a very, very interestng post, and I hava a ton of questions, because I want to be sure I understand what you did exactly and how you did it. I will write them in separate comments below. Thank you very much for your help.

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A.Zerty March 21, 2013 at 8:45 am

> I decided to expect everything to go well, for no reason at all.

This can be understood several ways. Was it a passive attitude (“I have to do X. but even if I do not it (or anything else), everything will go well, for no reason at all”) ? or was it an active attitude (“I have to do X, and every things done while doing X, and all results of doing X, will go well, for no reason at all”) ? or both simultaneously ? or none ? or something else? Could you please give one or more specific examples of what you did, and how you procedeed ?

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A.Zerty March 21, 2013 at 8:46 am

> Almost everything I did ended up being easier than I thought and more rewarding than I thought, once I decided not to bother thinking about things going badly

OK, this implicitly seems to be at least a somewhat active attitude toward a X, to do for all X. Was it just thoughts suppression (“I have to do X”, then just suppress immediately any thoughts about things going badly)? or thoughts replacement (“I have to do X”, suppress immediately any thoughts about things going badly, AND then replace them immediately by expectations of everything going well : “Doing X will be easy, fun, an occasion to grow,..”, “The result of X will be very good, for no reason at all”, “…” )? Can you please confirm or develop? or is it something else?

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A.Zerty March 21, 2013 at 8:47 am

> think a lot about what you want, and think only sparingly about what you don’t want.

When thinking about what you want, is it about the final result (“I want to be extrovert”, for example), or about the plan and the actions to reach this goal (“I need to go out more, so I need to call a friend to see if he/she is doing something next saturday”), or about your thoughts and reactions about something (illogical bad feeling, “What will he/she think of me ?” what if…”)? or about all simultaneously? or about something else I did not cover?

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A.Zerty March 21, 2013 at 8:50 am

> For about four months I’ve refused to entertain thoughts about what I don’t want, as a rule.

Could you please give different examples of what you did not want, and what thoughts you noticed were “thoughts not to be bothered with” that you immediately decided to ditch according to this experiment? And what you did each time.

Also, at the start of the experiment, did you prepare and have a list of what thoughts you did not want to entertain anymore? if yes, was it long or short, precise or fuzzy? if not, did you decide on the spot? Did you prepare and have a list of what thoughts you did want to entertain and/or use as replacements once the bad thoughts were ditched?

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A.Zerty March 21, 2013 at 8:53 am

> I just ditched them all as soon as I noticed them.

How did you monitor yourself? did you use a kind of system (say a clock that would ring evey 15 mn to tell you to notice if you were entertaining bad thougths)? or were you self conscious enough each day for 4 months to just do it without help most of the time? Also were you doing other experiments at the time?

Did you slip a lot, realizing much latter that you entertained bad thoughts for example, and if it happened, what did you do then when you realized it?

Did you notice some kind of “rebounds” or “ironic reactions” after starting this experiment? That is, the unexpected return of bad thoughts. stronger and more numerous than before. That seemed to happen in some academic studies on thoughts suppression.

Did you give yourself some kind of reward each time you noticed a bad thought? and/or each time you ditched one? or did you a simple mental acknowledgement (“gotcha.”)? or did you just redirect the stream of your thougths toward some more acceptable thoughts without anything else? or did you do something else?

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A.Zerty March 21, 2013 at 8:55 am

> I found myself doing things I’d been afraid to do for years

were these frightening things you found yourself doing only things you actively tried to do and boosted with this method? or did you noticed that you started to automatically use the same mental ditching on some of them that you did not intend to work on, and then found yourself doing them later? did your start to do at least some of them unexpectedly without any conscious thoughts or mental ditching work on them specifically?

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A.Zerty March 21, 2013 at 8:56 am

> Almost all my remaining social anxiety disappeared. My aversions shrank, my attractions grew

(I really apologize for asking you that:) in your opinion, could this disappearing of social anxiety be attributed instead to other factors: a lucky success that lead to improved confidence, that lead to improved results, that improved confidence again…?

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A.Zerty March 21, 2013 at 8:57 am

> Doing it takes some practice. It will be different for everyone, but I adapted quickly

Before the “big breakthrough”, did you realize that something good was already happening thanks to this experiment? if yes, How long did it take to you to realize that? if not, what did make you continue this experiment for at least 4 months?

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A.Zerty March 21, 2013 at 8:58 am

> When you notice you’re thinking about what you don’t want again, take that moment as a chance to think about what you do want.
> Thinking about what you do want is a matter of asking yourself what it would be like if things went the way you wanted.

Did you start small, on one and only one kind of thoughts to notice and ditch, or maybe on one and only one topic or goal to work on with your method, and then slowly expanded the “worked” area? or did you decide that you would ditch everything you could, starting now and on all possible occasions ? (hmmm, I may be unclear here)

(The following could be the most important question ao all:) what do you think are the differences between your method and “daydreaming”, which is now known to be harmful? more specifically, what are the points (not the results) of differences between your method and daydreaming?

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A.Zerty March 21, 2013 at 8:59 am

> Angst is the red flad

Social anxiety is not my only major personal problem. Do you think your method could be used with procrastination? its red flag in my case is a “I am so tired/this is so boring/I do not want to do it/this will be long/this will be hard/this won’t work or be useful anyway/I feel so tired/let do instead this or this fun thing…” If yes, what do you suggest ?

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A.Zerty March 21, 2013 at 9:01 am

> The feeling of being me changed drastically, over only a couple of day

You write in this post that you worked on refusing to entertain certain thoughts for about 4 months before. Then the big breakthrough happened over a couple of days. Did you feel it coming ?

Also, what were you doing and thinking at the time (say the few days before) the “biggest breakthrough” happened ? Do you think this was important in the process ?

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A.Zerty March 21, 2013 at 9:03 am

I realize that these were a lot of questions, but I hope you will take the time to answer them. I apologize for my poor English, and I thank you again for your post.

Sincerely,

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Padukah Tangerine March 30, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Awesome. Thank you!

My physiotherapist tried to get me to move the multifidi muscles [paraspinal] in order to strengthen a spine injury. These are nearly impossible to contract voluntarily without contracting the neighboring muscles. Basically it is possible to do, but an observer would have to confirm that I was doing it because I couldn’t feel it [I doubt anyone untrained can.]

I would tease her that she was teaching “The Think Method,” that of Meredith Wilson’s “Music Man.” Your ideas, those of my physical therapist and Wilson’s may seem far-fetched, but at least in the case of the multifidi, can work.

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Keeton April 25, 2013 at 4:41 am

I just Googled ‘when things go right’

I feel like no matter what happpens, things are good, and that because of that things are getting better. Just kind of stop worrying about things, and things that worry you stop happening…

I’ve been reading a bit about Neuro Linguistic Progromming (Brain Hax) and from that I know that we have a lot more influenece and control over our own behavior than most people realize. I learned it early on, maybe 14 year old with Anti-depressants. They never seemed to make me feel any different; So I decided to stop taking them, but tell my psychiatrist that I still was, and tell him that I was feeling better anyway, which I was, but because I Decided so. Since the pills provided no noticeable effect I decided it was a placebo (not knowing or caring whether it was or not) and that if placebos work anyway (which sometimes they do) it means that its all in your head. Its just a point of view. A way that you have come to see things for one way or another. Oh I am tired but I had to say something. Great article.

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a. julie May 20, 2013 at 9:44 pm

So this sat, read but marked unread, in my inbox, for quite some time. Looking at it again, I wonder how you’d reflect on the trend toward positive thinking (for lack of a better expression, while dodging ‘law of attraction) in your life.

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Ashley March 6, 2014 at 1:46 pm

I’ve been doing what you suggested for the last 24 hours and I finally understand what it means to get out of your own way.

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