More Thoughts on Positive Thinking

I do believe that the practice of thinking in an optimistic and positive way can change your body and your circumstances. What I meant in my last blog was simply that thinking in a positive manner all the time isn’t easy and that we have to remain true to our personal realities. The denial of what we feel doesn’t really constitute positive thinking—it’s the suppression of what’s going on under the superficial layer. 

So how can we change to a more positive attitude or strain or thought? I was inspired  this week regarding this question and want to share one idea with you as a kind of yeast to your own process toward creating change. 

This out-of-the-box concept came from Michael Salla, Ph.D. ( and, who was skyping from Hawaii. Dr. Salla talked about how to connect with spiritual great Braco (, who has healed thousands of people all over the world of their physical and situational ills. 

Dr. Salla said that joining with a greater force of this type—and let’s say as well with the power to think in an affirmative way, or to connect with a constructive mind flow—would be like tuning into a particular radio station. We all know what it’s like to adjust the radio dial. (You kids have head of radios, right?) A little this way and a little that, and finally we have clarity. 

What do we need to do to find the sweet spot? Dr. Salla explained that “all” that’s required is our attention. Focus, in short, is the price we pay. Of course here we return to the actuality that staying on point isn’t all that easy. Putting it in Dr. Salla’s words, however, simplifies for me what is needed, what the goal is. The end aim then becomes not “being positive,” a rather elusive objective, but to keep our attention on something specific—a saying, a mantra, an upbeat role model, a verse from the Vedas or the Bible.

 I’m not telling you now that this is a done deal, but just that here’s a tool that might offer you some possibility. Dr. Salla’s offering gave me a burst of mental energy and I hope it does you, too.

 Next week I have another proposal to share about being positive.

 In the meantime, if you want to start or polish a novel you’re writing, take a class with me. 🙂


Stay Positive—If You Can

At a certain stratum of society (middle-class, semi-New Agers?) everyone is always nagging one another to “stay positive.” I think staying positive is great advice. But just try taking it. I don’t know about you: I was brought up in an averagely dysfunctional American family that emphasized worry first. And that attitude was the inheritance of a background of a perpetually insecure ethnicity—not to mention the whole 50-thousand-year human legacy that comes of  living on the verge of being stomped to death by fierce stampeding hooved beasts—or other forms of instantaneous annihilation. So when I say staying positive isn’t easy, I’m not kidding, guys.

 Today, some smart folks are beginning to have a little empathy with the class of us who can’t stay positive for more than a few blessed minutes before the ancient programming of fear and doubt kicks in. In one book, The Human Side of Cancer, the author, Jimmie C. Holland, M.D. talks about “The Tyranny of Positive Thinking”—not the thinking itself, of course, but the insistence on it. 

 Holland, who practices at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, the Manhattan, NY cancer hospital, says: “…a refrain I often hear from people with cancer: the notion that feeling sad, scared, upset, or angry is unacceptable and that emotions can somehow make your tumor grow. And the sense that if the person is not in control on the emotional plane all the time, the battle against the disease will be lost. Of course, patients … didn’t come up with this notion on their own. It’s everywhere in our culture: in popular books and tabloids on every newsstand, on talk shows, in TV movies.”

 I like to listen to a certain church service on my computer a couple of times a week. I want to be positive. But these people—and I like them and find them inspirational—equate having negative emotions with a lack of faith… It’s sort of a hard-headed point of view, I think. I’d say, these negative emotions have me, not the other way around. Believe me, if I could help having these terrible feelings, I would.

 Another book out there, Bright Sided, How Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich, critiques our societal culture that insists on looking at the positive rather than the realism that she calls for. Positive thinking is all about oneself, she says, rather than living a life of authenticity, dealing with problems that may be foreseen, and service to others.

 I’m not lecturing here against positive thinking—just saying that in my view, it may be a little oversimplified. We do have good reasons for being positive, I believe, and a positive attitude may indeed evoke a positive response from the universe. I’m just saying that for me it’s not so easy, though I work at it—and that in some ways, a false positivism may result in failure, a sense of guilt, and despair.

 Or let me put it another way. I recently seemed to be rather ill. I worked with a distance healer and a healer in person and did other things based on a positive belief that the universe would see my point and give me a pass. In the end, I went to the hospital with a severe gastrointestinal infection (salmonella). I gave in to the negative, and ultimately, I didn’t die because I accepted what was true for me at the moment. 

A free story download that has to do with the effect of our thoughts on us:

The Loner’s Journey

Writers are loners—that’s for sure. But so are many other types of creative people, such as actors, musicians, painters, composers, designers of all types, singers—and the like.

 Writers, if not the others, spend a lot of time alone—at the keyboard. We’re in our own worlds even when we’re taking baths, walking down the street, on the bus.

 For us, the people in these worlds are our company. They make us cry and laugh and love—and all the while, we’re alone. But at the same time, we’re trying to connect with the humans outside, to show them what we’re really like, display our pools of clever originality.

 I think this comes from—in my case, anyway—an early childhood of not being acknowledged. We may have been fed and clothed and taken to school on a daily basis, but all the wonderful stuff inside was never invited out or recognized. That’s what got bottled up and began to ferment. (Sociopaths and serial killers probably go through a similar process.)

 We writers were usually big readers when we were young, if not later on, using fiction (sometimes nonfiction) as a fuel for the inner life (where most folks drive the interior monologue with the paraphernalia of personal relationships).

 Of course as we loners get older, we form associations with people. We join groups of those who work in our crafts—we network both off and on line. We go to church or synagogue or Buddhist meditation groups, take yoga classes.

 But still, we’re loners. We do our work at home alone, hope no one will call, dislike intrusions. We’re creating music, beautiful and artistic designs, novels that will bowl you over. Our way of relating to the world with love is indirect—yes, we do love you… But please, let’s maintain a respectable distance. We need our space and we need our time. After all, that’s how we learned our survival skills and who we are. Simply loners.


Try a free mystery story of mine:

Thoreau is the protagonist.

Courtesy Counts

We all have goals set out for ourselves, whether we aim to be writers or performers, or to run a restaurant. We might even simply want to get on from day to day, buying our groceries, having our teeth cleaned. 

Just about anything we hope to achieve involves other people. And, yes, you know pretty much what I’m going to say from the title of this piece. Getting along in the world, whether that means climbing the ladder of success or just meeting our many basic needs will inevitably bring us into contact with diverse human beings.

 Good manners count, and exercising them can not only oil the wheels of our progress, they can lead to social exchanges, even momentary ones, that satisfy and lift our spirits—another primal must-have we don’t often consider.  

 If you don’t show courtesy to me, that doesn’t mean I’m going to be rude to you or step our of some role for which I’m being paid in order to tell you off. No. But it does mean that on some level, conscious or unconscious, I probably won’t go all out for you.

 Why don’t people just say `thank you’ or show appreciation in some way? Or hold open a door or acknowledge a neighbor with a smile? Is their self-absorption so intense or their home training so impoverished? Well, indeed, that might be so, but even those conditions can be overcome.

 We need, in short, to look at ourselves when we interact with others and see if we’ve been at least polite, if not downright friendly. Others are us. We aren’t separate from the people around us. All together, we form the body of humanity and a social sphere that feeds or deprives us. Let’s build something good, something that in serving those who seemingly are outside ourselves will serve us, too.

 We can do better than reciprocate; in fact, we can give a little extra. They say your good works come back to you, but maybe only in feeling you’ve done the right thing. That might be enough.