Meaning we assign to situations is our own creation; not some absolute truth.1 Notice when assessments become debilitative. Re-shape them to facilitate outcomes you want.
Or, “We tell ourselves stories about our perceptions, then mistake them for absolute truth.”
The positive thinking mindset/strategy/life philosophy I outlined above has hints of Buddhism; To quote His Eminence Choje Togden Rinpoche:
“What a yogi or yogini strives to do is to put an end to the suffering that exists in cyclic existence. In order to do that, a yogi or yogini has to train his or her mind. Simply stated, a yogi or yogini will strive to counter all the negative emotions and try to generate positive energy.”2
Notice positive thinking is a bit of a misnomer; generating positive energy does not require constant positivity so much as it requires an understanding of the basis of our own thoughts.
Regarding my definition above, the hardest concept to internalize is the first one: that we assign meaning to situations; that meaning is made up by us. When people say ‘positive thinking doesn’t work’ it is usually because they couldn’t grasp that first bit.
To my surprise, the best book I’ve read that articulates the notion that we create our own reality was written by and for the CIA—Psychology of Intelligence Analysis— and I talk about it in my post, The CIA on ‘Your Thoughts Create Your Reality’.
More like this:
- Psychology of Intelligence Analysis, Richards J. Heuer, Jr., Center for the Study of Intelligence, pp. 7, “People tend to think of perception as a passive process. We see, hear, smell, taste or feel stimuli that impinge upon our senses. We think that if we are at all objective, we record what is actually there. Yet perception is demonstrably an active rather than a passive process; it constructs rather than records “reality.” Perception implies understanding as well as awareness. It is a process of inference in which people construct their own version of reality on the basis of information provided through the five senses.” [↩]
- His Eminence Choje Togden Rinpoche, Yogis Of Tibet [↩]