Think Positive… Or Don’t

Awesome ideas alert! There’s a lot of good, straight-talk in this post at Aggressive Strength Magazine.

This first point is an interesting one. Read it, then we’ll discuss:

Self-help gurus often talk about the importance of having a positive attitude, claiming it’s fundamental to the success of any and all endeavors.  On the contrary:  attitude is irrelevant.  Couple the brightest of attitudes with a flawed plan and you’ll create only failure, while taking that same action with an effective plan – even if your attitude is less than cheerful – will surely succeed. 

On one hand, I TOTALLY agree. Attitude doesn’t make change, action makes change. However, when my attitude sucks, I suffer. I may go through the motions of eating well and participating in my training, but I don’t excel. I don’t exult. So while I agree that positive attitude alone doesn’t amount to much, action + positive attitude = best scenario… although in a pinch, I will take “following an action plan with a bad attitude” if it gets my ass moving.

Next up…

Take an effective plan, put it into action, have the tenacity to see it through, and it will work in spite of your positive, negative, or indifferent attitude. 

See? That’s what I said.

Then this:

Creation is dramatic and powerful, not passive and subtle.  Creation arises from destruction and only by destroying your wrongfully lived life can you finally embrace the life you’ve always wanted.  This is what it means to be reincarnated as a new person. There are no second chances when you’re keeping one foot in your old life… Dramatic change isn’t always pretty, nor does it always come from a pretty, positive place.

That got me going! It’s particularly relevant to the writing I’m thinking about doing right now, but it’s also applicable to my lifestyle. When I chose CrossFit over band adventures, early bedtimes over late-night fun, dino-chow over fast food, eating at the table with utensils over pizza from the box in bed, water over coffee and booze… I left some carnage in my wake. Friendships had to adapt, habits were ripped out at the roots. It was both destructive and revelatory. And, honestly, sometimes I miss parts of my old life. Lots of my old life was fun! But it didn’t make me happy.

I think that’s the underlying message of the quoted paragraph. Being happy is hard work – and that work that leads to fun times, rewarding times, silly times, loving times, and sometimes, trying times. But you don’t get all that good stuff, all those Good times, without the rough ride of change.

Read the whole article here and let me know what you think in comments.

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  • georgia says:

    You're not alone. I sometimes miss my old life, too. I'm overall much healthier and HAPPIER now than before. But, every so often, I long for a day fueled by mojitos, coronas, sun and sand. Maybe I just need a vacation? 😉

  • Aaron says:

    On the whole, that's a great article. Thanks Mel.

    Taking realistic action towards a goal will always count for more than doing nothing while "thinking positively" about it.

    However, I disagree with the guy's notion that having a positive attitude = self-delusion. Those are two different things, totally separate phenomenon. Can they go hand-in-hand? Sure.

    But getting shit done regardless of how much you "want" to do that thing, or “like” doing that thing, is still the result of making a choice to positively effect your situation, whether it’s changing a tire, or being able to do more pull-ups.

    Making choices. Taking realistic action. Having a positive attitude.

    All separate things. Some just tend to count more than others. Just my $.02

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Aaron, I agree with you! The conclusion he drew around self-delusion and positive attitude fell flat for me, too.

    I read a piece in CrossFit Journal by a sports psychologist a few days ago about positive self-talk during a workout… and I loved it! I caught myself this morning during the warmup run, and remembered some of the advice from the article. Really good stuff.