I've done somewhat of an about-face in my views on the power of positive thinking. I used to think the idea of positive thinking (or constant optimism) was a little crazy. I thought optimism, at its core, was lying to yourself. I avoided the positive thinking crowd. Part of the reason was that they promised things that I knew couldn't happen.
There are some big names today, like Oprah and Deepak Choprah, who say that you can create reality with your words. There are even Christian movements that would say this same thing.
These people believe that if you say positive things, or think positive things, that positive things will happen to you.
I disagree. We can't change what happens to us.
But I discovered a different way to look at it. I had been hearing about the power of positive thinking from some other sources and they talked about it differently. And I liked it.
After a lot of thinking, I discovered a way to distinguish the ideas. True positive thinking is not about lying to yourself; it's about telling yourself the greater truth.
Romans 8:28 says that all things work for the good of those who love God. That means that no matter what happens, we can be optimists. We won't always be able to say that what happened to us was necessarily good, but we can know that no matter what, that event is going to bring about something good in the end. This is the greater truth.
It's true that something bad may be happening, but the greater truth is that there's something good coming from it.
My problem with the idea of positive thinking was that I grouped all positive thinking into the first category. I then labeled it illogical and unrealistic. The problem is, not all positive thinking is like this.
We can't change what happens to us with what we think, but we can change the results that come from what happens to us with what we think.
Bad things will happen to us. We can't change that. We could probably lessen those things a bit by not making stupid decisions, but other than that, we can't change what happens.
But we can change the way we respond to those things. We can change our attitude about it. And through that, we can change the results.
I used to call myself a realist. In reality, I was a pessimist. Biblical thought is always optimistic. We have hope. Our thinking should show that.