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The Positive Thinking Movement

I am noticing that more and more people are thinking in terms of the ideas presented in popular books and films such as The Secret and What the Bleep Do We Know? I have no doubt personally that there is a rich mix of people with “real insight” and also with “naive optimism” within the communities that promote these ideas – just as there are within all communities of human beings. Many of the ideas running through all of these “brands” overlap and over the past week I have taken interest in both the Hay House Summit 2013 and the Law Of Attraction Summit 2013

Yesterday’s News

There is nothing new about the idea that the ideas that we focus on become the things that shape our lives. Whether you relate to this in terms such as: “What ye sow, so shall ye reap” or “What goes around, comes around”, or “Karma”, I do not expect that this idea will be headline news for you. To what degree this idea shapes the way you live your life is another matter entirely.

An Analogy with Electricity

Electricity has been around since the dawn of time (for example as lightning), but we have only found a way to tame it and control it in the last two hundred years. And the results of this taming are evident in our rapidly evolving technology – for example: the fact that you are reading this!

Our ability to observe and study electricity took off after we started to separate naturally occurring electricity into its positive and negative components. This can be experienced as “static electricity” such as when we rub a balloon against nylon clothing before sticking it to the ceiling.

My point here is that this whole revolution began when we started to notice and focus upon the separated positive and negative charges. We drove a wedge into the heart of something which before this, was a mysterious and sometimes frightening force of nature.


So what on earth might this have to do with the work we do here at in8? Author and psychologist, and founding member of the human givens school of psychology Joe Griffin has said that “the antidote to depression is hope”.

Let’s examine this statement briefly: We know that “depression” is generally experienced as an overload of negative expectations. We also know that “hope” is a spark of positive expectation.

When we help people who are struggling to overcome the devastating effects of depression, a key element is for us to help them recognise even the smallest glimmer of positivity in their lives. It isn’t always easy to do, but once someone recognises that from the bottom of the pit there is only one direction to go – and that is up, they know that they are already on the path to recovery. Luckily we have a whole range of supporting ideas and techniques to help make the ensuing journey as quick and effortless as possible.

What if?

So a common theme between those who sell the benefits of thinking positively and our approach to helping people overcome depression quickly and effectively is a key idea. It is the importance of being able to stand back (away from the emotional intensity of being fully immersed in our present drama) and simply notice which of your own thoughts are positive, and which are negative.

What if, in psychological terms, our society is currently at a stage analogous to that of the early pioneers of electricity? We are currently in the early stages of learning the skill of separating our thoughts and feelings into positive and negative. Occasionally we notice the dramatic effects of this activity. Perhaps we can look forward to a revolution as far-reaching as our technological revolution, but this time a revolution of planetary well-being.

If so, then I look forward to an explanation of the relationship between the flow of positive thoughts and emotions and the forces which shape our lives which is as elegant and significant as James Clerk Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism. Perhaps even gravity may one day be seen as nothing more than one aspect of the Law of Attraction?