By Milia Ali
February 5, 2012
Over the past decade motivational gurus, spiritualists, and New Age Therapists have written umpteen books and reams of articles to underscore the importance of a positive attitude in achieving success. The common theme seems to be that positive thinking generates and attracts good energy, which in turn makes the thought a self-fulfilling prophesy.
The idea is not entirely new. Throughout history philosophers and prophets have asserted that positive thinking can cause a seismic shift in the energies surrounding us and whatever we strongly desire will actually happen. Of course, sceptics find this notion somewhat preposterous and, in fact, risky. They believe that the idea of linking positive thinking to success may often lead to unrealistic expectations and costly misjudgements. People may become overconfident and embark on reckless schemes that are totally out of sync with reality.
In fact, spiritual teachers also caution against unquestioned positivity and advise that it's not as simple as just intensely wishing for something. According to them, there is a complex and painstaking process involved in turning the mind toward positive thoughts. Since we cannot change attitudes overnight, persistent mental discipline and focus are needed to change the basic orientation of the thought process. The first step requires a conscious elimination of all negative feelings so that the subconscious is ready to receive positive energy. Once we allow positive thoughts to replace negative ones we are able to attract positive forces to help us realise our goals.
In all honesty, I am not totally convinced that by simply aligning our desires with positive thoughts we can turn our destiny. There are other forces in the universe, beyond our control, that determine life's outcomes. For instance, how can we discount lady luck or the unpredictable factor that Shakespeare termed as "the tide in the affairs of men?" Having said that, I must confess that I am gradually leaning toward the belief that positive thinking certainly boosts one's confidence, which in turn enhances the probability of success
An interesting personal story comes to mind in this context. A few years ago when I was living in Bucharest, Romania, the renowned virtuoso Zuben Mehta came to perform at an annual week-long music festival. Being a music enthusiast, I bought front row tickets for the entire festival. The day of the Zuben Mehta concert my husband had a conflicting engagement. He dropped me off at the National Theatre, promising to join me after the intermission. I went straight to the usher and handed her my ticket. She took one look at it and said "nyet", which I understood to be a "no." Seeing my confused expression the lady kept pointing to the ticket, while muttering something in Romanian. Puzzled, I looked at the ticket and to my utter dismay realised that I had brought the ticket for the next day's show. I tried explaining that it was an honest mistake but had no success since we were conversing in two different languages. In short, I was refused admission to the concert.
Dejected, I came out of the concert hall. Not only did I feel humiliated, I was also despondent since I realised that I had missed the chance of a life time to witness a maestro perform. There was no time to go home and fetch the right ticket. In desperation I called my husband and told him about the mix-up. He paused for a while and suggested: "Why don't you try to get in? Don't show any weakness or hesitation. Just hold the ticket in your hand. Don't volunteer to show it to anyone. In any case we have assigned seats and no one will be sitting there. Walk confidently, with your head high. And remember, think positive and believe in your ability to pull it off!"
Now, readers I am not a very confident person. But on this occasion I plucked up all my courage and decided to give it a shot. I kept repeating in my mind "I can do this" and headed straight toward the Theatre. I made a direct and confident eye contact with the usher but virtually brushed her aside and breezed into the concert chamber. The show was about to begin and the lights were dimmed. And, guess what? Before I realised it I was sitting on my designated seat. I actually made it!
Whether positive thinking always results in outcomes matching our desires, I am still unsure. However, I am sure that we can spread positivity in the small space around us through an upbeat attitude. And, there might be some truth in the ancient text of the Upanishad: "You are what your deep driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny."
The writer is a renowned Rabindra Sangeet exponent and a former employee of the World Bank.
Source: The Daily Star, Dhaka