The following is from the NIE Teacher’s guide “Positive Thinking” written by Ginny Swinson with educational consultation by Nancy Gilligan and produced by KRP, Inc.
Having a positive attitude is important. It’s important not only when it comes to how you view yourself but also when it comes to viewing life in general. Admittedly, thinking in a positive way is not always easy — especially as you deal with life’s ups and downs. Once you start to recognize the positive things that already exist in your life and learn how to see them even in the face of adversity, positive thinking can become YOUR mode of thinking.
GETTING RID OF THE NEGATIVES
Like everyone else, you have negative thoughts and feelings — fear, insecurity, guilt, and even hatred. But also like everyone else, you have within yourself the ability to replace these “negatives” with a more positive way of thinking. It may not always be easy, but it is possible!
One technique often recommended for getting rid of negative thoughts and feelings is to replace them with mental pictures of peaceful scenes, such as the light of the moon on water, the ocean washing gently on the sand, or the stars twinkling on a clear, quiet night. Think of a peaceful scene you could use to prevent negative thoughts from creeping into your mind. Draw that scene on a separate piece of paper. Sometimes, simply thinking of peaceful words and expressions might do the trick.
Using today’s newspaper, find and circle at least 10 “peaceful” words and expressions to tuck away when you need a little peace of mind.
Are you a user of “little negatives”? Do such phrases as “I don’t think I can do that” or “I’m afraid I’ll be late” clutter up your conversation? You may not even realize it when you use negatives words and phrases. Regardless, if you use them enough, they can condition you to think negatively, too. Before you know it, little negatives will clutter up your mind, as well as your conversation. Everyone is guilty of using little negatives once in a while. Write down four examples of negative words and phrases you have heard or have used yourself.
Using your newspaper, identify quotes in which someone used little negatives. Write the sentences containing the negative words or phrases. Discuss the effects they might have on the people saying them.
Often, it’s not the “little negatives” that stand in the way of a positive attitude. It’s the big
ones! People who consistently talk negatively not only affect themselves and their attitudes but others who are around them. On the other hand, people who carry on personal and group conversations with upbeat words and expressions give themselves and others plenty to be positive about.
Choose a topic from today’s newspaper that upsets or angers you. Working with a partner, begin a conversation expressing your negative thoughts. Your partner’s job is to inject positive thoughts into the conversation. Now, reverse roles and have your partner be the negative one. How well did you do? Describe your experiences.
When people feel inferior, they are easily discouraged and can even become depressed. Instead of focusing on the things they can do well, they dwell on their weaknesses and failures. What causes feelings of inferiority? Many times these feelings begin in childhood. A person might think he or she is too fat, or too thin, or not like other children. Often, feelings of inferiority come from fears — the fear of making new friends or the fear of failure, for example. (One poll found that the No. 1 fear is speaking in public. It even ranked above death!) Everyone has fears. Finding ways to deal with those fears is an important step in conquering them. See for yourself.
Use your newspaper to find examples of things people are afraid of. (Don’t forget the comics!) Write down some of those “fears” on a piece of paper, then come up with constructive ways to combat them. Label one column with the KIND OF FEAR and and another with HOW TO COMBAT IT. Discuss the different ways you and your classmates would deal with each fear.