What IS possible right now?

The positive thinking movement gained a great deal of momentum in the 50’s due to the release of Norman Vincent Peale’s book The Power of Positive Thinking; A Practical Guide to Mastering the Problems of Everyday Living.

Whilst self help information and books have been around in various guises over millennia, (the Bible being cited as one of the ‘original self help books’) Peale’s book seems to have been part, if not the spark, for a resurgence of this genre.

And for a number of years ‘positive thinking’ was dismissed as fluffy and less important that determination or persistence.

That is until research highlighted it’s value.

Research such as the study by  Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina.

She tested the impact of positive emotions on the brain by setting up an experiment. During which, “she divided her research subjects into five groups and showed each group different film clips.

The first two groups were shown clips that created positive emotions. Group 1 saw images that created feelings of joy. Group 2 saw images that created feelings of contentment.

Group 3 was the control group. They saw images that were neutral and produced no significant emotion.

The last two groups were shown clips that created negative emotions. Group 4 saw images that created feelings of fear. Group 5 saw images that created feelings of anger.

Afterwards, each participant was asked to imagine themselves in a situation where similar feelings would arise and to write down what they would do. Each participant was handed a piece of paper with 20 blank lines that started with the phrase, “I would like to…”

Participants who saw images of fear and anger wrote down the fewest responses. Meanwhile, the participants who saw images of joy and contentment, wrote down a significantly higher number of actions that they would take, even when compared to the neutral group.

In other words, when you are experiencing positive emotions like joy, contentment, and love, you will see more possibilities in your life. These findings were among the first that suggested positive emotions broaden your sense of possibility and open your mind up to more options.”. Full article)

It reminded me of the improv comedy workshops that I took part in. The instructor, John, shared that great improvisors received the information, saying an internal ‘yes’, in order to access other ideas. He mentioned that physically, our neural pathways open up in this process allowing our brains to search more of our ‘internal library’ When we reject/close off/say an internal ‘no’ to the information closes off.

It was a practise in trust and staying present. It never failed to amaze me the ideas that came when I ‘said yes’ internally.

And just as the above study highlighted being in that ‘yes/positive’ mindset helps to access that information, frees us and opens us up to ideas and inspiration.

It reminds me of my favourite Adyashanti quote “a sure way to suffer is to argue with what is” When we have a recognition of what is, no resistance to it,  then we are ‘saying yes’ That may be uncomfortable, unnerving, uncertain. But I can still say ‘yes’ and be open to ideas.

Ask, what IS possible right now?

It’s not forcing me to look for the positive in a tough situation, but is inviting me to look for what IS possible. From here, with all that is going on. What CAN I do?

It doesn’t make me wrong for not being in the best frame of mind either. It provides an opportunity to look at what’s possible from this point. From where I am right now. With all that is.

With this mindset what’s possible?

And now?

And now?

And when we see what’s possible, then we have a new direction or directions to explore.

There are no guarantees as to the outcomes, but positive thinking or maybe it’s possibility thinking can at least be a more resourceful place to be.