The Power of Positive Thinking

The Power of Positive Thinking

This is a strange topic to think about. There is something mystical in it’s existence and perhaps the power that I attribute to it. It isn’t something you can physically touch or even really prove. It just happens.

What is Positive Thinking? (Aside from the obvious?)

It’s the idea that you can create your environment and the choices that present themselves to you through the power of thought. You can generate negative outcomes, as well- just as an aside.

We all encountered this idea at a young age, and it didn’t have as much weight. At a young age, we were positive because our minds didn’t have the capacity to worry they way they did when we got older. We wished for chocolate milk at breakfast and we got it. We threw ice cubes in the toilet for school cancellations, and magically, school was cancelled (with nothing to say about the five inches of snow outside our windows.)

But as we get older, holding onto those positive thoughts and the power that mystically exists behind them seems harder to come by.

But it does happen.

I will start with myself and then follow with a story about the person who most recently made me realize I am not living within positive thinking (and I desperately need to.)

Let’s go back to a moment three years ago. I had just traveled from Washington D.C. to Madrid to the small town of Logrono on a bus. It had been lugging around my giant suitcase for the better part of 24 hours. I was exhausted and not a little shell-shocked at how quickly you can make it from one side of the Atlantic to the other.

For lack of a better thought, I hailed a cab and was taken to my AirBnB. I hull my assortment of crap from the cab, make my way with purpose to the apartment building with my number on it-and stop.

There is a key pad with each apartments number listed and a list of (very) outdated and smeared names. This is how you let them know you’re here. This is how I get in…but I don’t know the number of my apartment.

I’ll cut through the panic and the breathing techniques and the eventual thought that I did end up projecting- which was “It is going to be fine.” How could it not? I just made it from one side of the world to the other, through the mountains on a 5 hour bus ride, down the street on a seven minute cab ride and to this door. It’s not like I can feasibly fail now when I had such ample opportunity to do it before!

20 minutes lapse and women then approaches me from behind. She asks me in Spanish who I am trying to buzz. I shake my head and show her the name of the women I’m staying with. She smiles, responds in English, and lets me know she also is staying with her.

Up we go.

My current positive-thought hero.

I know my story isn’t the most obvious one – but positive thought doesn’t have to generate huge outcomes. It can bring small blessings and change how you handle a situation. That moment isn’t a bad memory for me- it’s a funny one with a crazy twist of gracious luck.

But I’m here to tell you another story.

My younger sister declared during her sophomore year that she was going to pursue her doctorate to become a veterinarian. High fives all around. The only thing about pursuing your veterinarian doctorate is that it is HARD to get into a program. Here’s some numbers to prove it:

“Less than 10% of applicants for the program will join the college’s Class of 2020. The college received more than 1,450 applications and offered interviews to 336 candidates with only 120 available seats.” source. In the end, only 55 people made it in from Virginia, and she was one of them.

And she had no doubt it would all work out.

Guess who got into veterinarian school? And she’s doing great.

And something else…

She just recently applied to an externship in Arizona. She was about a year and a half late in the suggested application start time, and she was up against a huge pool of candidates. Her boyfriend also very conveniently just moved to Arizona. If she got it she would already have a friend, a place to stay, and a short five minute commute.

She got it.

Her life is magic. We, the negative Nancy’s of the world, sometimes get incredulously enviable over her magical abilities.

It is possible, though.

It’s hard to be positive. It’s hard to give it up. This idea that failure is inevitable and you will never ‘make it.’ That things are out to get you down and keep you down. Magical dreams don’t come true. That fairy-tales are meant for pages in books and old women to spin at bedtime to their grandchildren.

But what if we all just had a little bit more positively in our thoughts and goals and dreams… in ourselves? We could probably do whatever it is we never thought we could.


Give it small spin. That parking lot that is always full and you can never find a spot in: declare in your mind that there will be a spot waiting for you. That bakery that always runs out of your favorite bagel in the morning; know you’re going to enjoy the heck out of it. Don’t doubt it for a second, believe it’s already yours.

Crazy things might just happen.