How the Vikings, AP & Realistic Thinking Will Make You Happier
Posted on January 5, 2013
Admittedly I am a Pollyanna when it comes to positive thinking. That’s why an article in the January 2013 issue of Toastmasters Magazine titled, “Positive Thinking DEBUNKED: Focus on realistic thinking to motivate others and achieve goals in 2013,” really caught my attention. The article argues that positive thinking can actually have negative effects on people and that realistic thinking is more productive.
The faith we place in positive thinking is not merely naive but fails to capture the complexities of human motivation. – Writer Annie Murphy Paul, Toastmasters Magazine January 2013
As someone who reads Napoleon Hill’s daily motivational book every day, I first got defensive when reading this article. But reading further, I realized that they didn’t mean that being a Negative Nancy was better for you than being a Pollyanna, they simply meant that Positive Thinking shouldn’t be the only weapon in your arsenal.
Well, a friend and I got in a discussion about who is going to be named the NFL’s MVP this year. Not just because I’m a die-hard Vikings fan, but because I really think Adrian Peterson has been the most influential member of a team this year, I was arguing for AP to be MVP.
My friend, who is also a Vikings fan and wants AP to be MVP, but was thinking realistically, argued that quarterbacks have been MVP’s for the last 5 years. Plus, Peyton Manning had a way more severe injury than AP, and that the Broncos won their last 8 games of the season, while the Vikings only won 4, and on and on. His argument was strictly factual, while mine was part statistics, part emotion.
In this instance, as I’m wearing my Vikings jersey and nervously waiting for the Vikings to play the Packers for the second week in a row- but this time in Lambeau, I know the reality of the situation. Yes, I’ve heard the stats of beating a team two weeks in a row, and the records of both teams, and every other negative thing out there about the challenge the Vikings will face today. But you know what? I don’t care. In this case, I don’t think being a Pollyanna and completely ignoring the historical facts- the reality of the situation, is being naive.
I agree with the article that you can’t go through life thinking a positive attitude and meditating on your goals is going to manifest them for real. You definitely need to put action behind those thoughts. The idea of a positive mental attitude, or PMA as Napoleon Hill famously refers to it, is just saying that if you’re thinking about it more then you’ll naturally start working towards it. In things you have control of— your own life, this is definitely true.
But in cheering on your favorite sports team, what harm does it do to be overly optimistic? There aren’t any definitive actions that I can take to guarantee a Vikings win today. All I can do is wear purple to show my pride, obnoxiously support them on social media sites- and most importantly, send them all the positive vibes possible. What harm can it do?
Wise people instinctively know how to play multiple roles in life and can seamlessly switch between them. They recognize when positive thinking is harmful for them and switch to realistic thinking. They recognize when being supportive is really just enabling their friend or family member and switch to being more authoritative. Most people have to consciously think of these transitions after realizing their technique isn’t working. The more you can objectively take a look at your situation, without letting emotions control you, the better you’ll get at recognizing when you have to change roles.
Maybe I’m justifying my naivete, but SKOL VIKINGS!