UC to J-Pouch Story

Positive Thinking – A Hoax?

Posted by Megan on July 28, 2008


I love great graffiti photos!

Recently on jpouch.org someone posted about sickness and a spiritual development.  It became a rather religiously based conversation, which is fine, but it sparked something I’m more interested in talking about – keeping my mind positive and will this make my life easier and healthier?

Fairly recently there was a good article that questioned the science of positive thinking, and if it is a hoax or not: Article Andrew Schorr – Is positive thinking a Hoax? In the article the author writes:

“I want to believe we can “talk” to our cells when they are sick, whether through the help of a higher power, or just with our force of will. I really want to believe that since not doing so seems disempowering. Dr. Sloan sees it differently. He wants people to quit wasting money on bogus approaches and work more closely with their docs on clinical trials and the like to really move things forward for themselves and others.”

And Laurie Edwards writes on her blog about Keeping an Open Mind especially when dealing with chronic situations.  Through keeping an open mind and trying new things whether it be yoga, meditiation, paiting, etc…will help keep your mind healthy. 

I don’t think it is a hoax to believe in positive thinking or having an open mind. But I do think that finding the balance of striving to keep my mind from controlling me with negativity is the one of the key things I l’ve learned, espeicall during this disease journey, I mean the post I just did about Best Case Scenario really touches on this I think.  I learned my mind could play wicked games on me, so over the course of the disease journey with Mark I’ve gained one valuable skill – I Leanred this from books I’ve read a heap of times by Pema Chodron – The Places that Scare You, When Things Fall Apart and Start Where you Are, that we must BE PATIENT WITH OURSELVES.  

For about 5 years I tried to act like we were fine, that Mark was fine, that if I lived positively in his diseases then it would all be fine. This then meant that I often fought feeling sad, scared, etc..and literally wore myself out trying to live normal in an abnormal situation.  So for me now what positive thinking or having an open mind means – being patient with myself. For instance, if I feel sad today, I just acknowledge that “hey, I feel sad right now” then that feeling will pass, and I’m soon on to another feeling. But instead of being annoyed or fighting that I feel sad like I used “I can’t cry right now, I’ve got too much work!” – Now, if I’m sad, just be sad, it passes, and be patient with myself that I was sad at that moment.  This for me has been the most freeing tool I’ve gained in coping with all the stress and strain of Mark being sick all those years.

I don’t know, I don’t think it is always as simple as doing new things, or staying positive or even turning it over to your god of choice. That to me isn’t as tangible as acknowledging what I feel at that moment and then simply accepting that is what I’m feeling and so be it – like everything else it will change in a few seconds with the fluid nature of living 🙂  I hope I don’t sound preachy, I don’t mean to, these are just my thoughts on this positive stuff – I say we coin the phrase “Realistic Positivity” – What do you think?

Photo via: lonesome:cycler — nuova macchina foto!’s 


3 Responses to “Positive Thinking – A Hoax?”

  1. mary said

    Without a doubt there is something to keeping the mind healthy. I figure a good example is how caregivers of family members often get physically ill after long time spent doing caregiving. I agree though that this “positive” mind and even a spiritual mind are not black and white for me, I always fight to keep my thoughts on the up side, cup half full sorta thing. And I like the idea of an open mind, but I also know how when you are dealing with lots of persistent stress from chronic disease coupled with life that re-energinzing yourself to keep an open mind is not always easy. Although important – not always easy.

  2. Mr Positivity said

    One thing to remember is that positive thinking and positive actions go hand in hand. Merely thinking positive will not get you to where you want to go. If you are ill and can be cured by surgery then surgery is the positive step you must take. That and positive thinking will make things better.

  3. JM said

    I’ve always felt the positive way I approached my surgery and its aftermath was a huge factor in my recovery. Mary is right when she says it can be difficult to keep positive when things aren’t going well which, of course is exactly the time you need to be positive.
    Besides being a naturally ‘glass half full’ type of person I also used some techniques I learnt from NLP such as anchoring and reframing to help maintain my positivity and these were a real help.

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