From ancient history to modern day philosophers and thought leaders, the power of thinking positively has been one of the leading strategies recommended to help you live a happy, flourishing and prosperous life.

However, in recent times the power of positive thinking has been hijacked.

Beyond wishful thinking!

Let’s face facts first… just thinking positively isn’t (dare I say) ‘the secret’ to living a happy, flourishing and prosperous life. Thinking positively without intentional action is just wishful thinking. Sure, maybe in the fantasy world of Pinocchio you can wish upon a star and your dreams will come true, but in the real world it just isn’t going to happen… Sorry if I’ve just burst your bubble on the quick and easy way to success and happiness!

There’s nothing wrong with positive thinking as a strategy, it’s just that it needs to be supported by Intentional Action. Mindless action (actions that are not taken based on conscious intention) can be just as disappointing as wishful thinking, but when you combine positive thinking with intentional action, you have a powerful combination that will help you move closer to living an even more happy, flourishing and prosperous life.

Who does happiness depend on?

I am inspired by Aristotle’s view that “Happiness depends on ourselves.”  When you take a moment to consider what these four words mean it becomes clear that there are two elements to this piece of wisdom.

The first is that each of us alone chooses how happy we think we are. Even in some of the most impoverished places in the world you can find people who despite the daily hardships they face, they ‘make the most of it’ and look for whatever happiness they can find from within themselves and make the most of their limited resources to find ways to best deal with their harsh realities.

For those of us not living in a destitute or impoverished environment, sometimes ‘stuff’ still happens that can knock the positive breath out of us. However, we still choose whether to breathe in positivity despite any hardship. While at times it may not be easy, it is inescapably true that we choose how we feel. This isn’t to say we ought never experience sadness, anger, frustration and the various human emotions we are blessed with to experience or that we ought live in a delusional world of everything being rosy.

The second element to Aristotle’s advice is based on the word depends… happiness depends on ourselves. In other words, it’s up to each of us not only to think positively about being happy, but to do what we can to increase our level of happiness and well being.

Aristotle also said “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it,” and that’s what I aim to demonstrate in this article.

Intentional Positive Thinking vs The law of attraction

I am convinced that what I refer to as intentional positive thinking (positive thinking supported by intentional action) will have a positive impact on you living a more happy, flourishing and prosperous life. It’s inescapably true that if you think positively, and remind yourself with positive thinking affirmations (what I refer to as intentional affirmations) and support your positive thinking with intentional actions to help you achieve your goals, you’ve got to be moving more toward goal achievement than away from it… it just makes sense.

However, what’s hijacked the power of positive thinking are the increasing number of books and hopefully well intentioned but misguided motivational coaches and conference speakers espousing the ‘magic’ and ‘mystical powers’ of the Law of Attraction. In the way the law of attraction is mostly presented is that if you want something enough, it will manifest its way into your life… Rubbish!

When presented in this way, the law of attraction is nothing more than wishful thinking.

On the one hand, this ‘law of attraction movement’ has led to a lot of disenfranchised and disappointed ‘disciples’ who realise that despite their best efforts at positive thinking and affirmations, nothing has changed and what they ‘wished for’ has not been manifested into their lives.

On the other hand, it has created a degree of cynicism, scepticism and criticism that is often delivered in a way that would turn even the most positive of positive thinkers off the idea of there being any value in thinking positively at all.

Maybe who has hijacked happiness is the ‘laughter movement’, or the ‘meditation movement’, or whatever the next ‘happiness movement’ might be.

Naming & Shaming The Real Hijacker

The real culprit who hijacked positive thinking is the single minded focus of there being just one answer alone to the secret of living a happy, flourishing and prosperous life.

The key is to stop looking for the answer. There isn’t just one answer.

It’s not just defining a prosperous life for you; It’s not just taking stock of your truth about you; It’s not just about defining your intentions for each life role; It’s not just controlling your inner voice or thinking positive; It’s not just developing intentional success habits; It’s not just setting intentional aspirational goals; It’s not just building intentional trust relationships; It’s not just about developing a thirst for intentional learning.

It’s about all of these inescapable truths for a prosperous life. Happiness, as Aristotle said depends on you making the intentional choices to think what you need to think, to feel what you need to feel, to do what you need to do and to be who you need to be to live a more happy, flourishing and prosperous life.

If you’ve been disappointed with your positive thinking results and have abandoned your positive thinking affirmations, it’s time once again to dust them off and to not let the potential of positive thinking be hijacked by your own lack of intentional action… you choose!