Negative thinking is bitter. Positive thinking, better

A reader writes, “I just read your article “Negative Thinking” ( and it hit me between the eyes.  I am a 53 year old husband of a wonderful wife and a father of 5 fantastic children.

“I had a wonderfully easy life up until 7 years ago.  I was making $200,000 a year as a consultant and life was just great. However, after 9/11 my business failed and we had a complete financial ruin.  We lost our house, our savings, our cars.  It was terrible.  Unfortunately 7 years later we are still not back on our feet.  My income is based on commissions only and I have failed miserably.

“I have become the King of negative thinking.  I expect things to fail now. I have no hope that anything is ever going to get better.  It is a horrible way to live.

“I know if I don’t change my attitude nothing is going to get better.  Are there some real concrete steps that I can take that will pull me out of this?  I have reached a point where deep down I believe everything I try to do will fail.  I was never like that before, but with 7 years of failing, it is hard to believe anything will change.”

ANSWER: Our reader is not alone. Regrettably, in these turbulent times, many are losing their jobs, savings, and peace of mind. Seven years of failing is hard to bear. Under those circumstances, some would succumb to major (clinical) depression. If our reader finds himself entirely unable to cope, I suggest he seek professional help, such as a psychiatrist, counselor, or life coach.

If he is not in the grip of depression, but feels too close for comfort, he may find this book helpful: “How to Heal Depression,” by Harold H. Bloomfield and Peter McWilliams, Prelude Press, 1995. Peter McWilliams is graciously and generously making his books available online for free. If you wish to read “How to Heal Depression” online, visit

Although our reader is down in the dumps, the fact he wrote to me suggests that he is NOT in the throes of depression. So, my suggestions may offer some help. If they don’t, as I wrote earlier, he should seek professional help. My suggestions will deal with: 1) Things to think about. 2) What he needs to do. 3) Steps he can take.


a) The painful situation our reader finds himself in is really life’s call. Life is urging him to rise above fear and discover his own greatness. You see, every decision he makes is not a decision about what to do, but a decision about who he is. Life has infused him with unlimited potential, capable of taking heroic action. “Rise to the occasion,” life softly whispers. Can you see how this is not a time to brood, but a time to rejoice?

Yes, this is that magical moment where you get to prove your magnificence. Laugh in the face of your self-doubt and become the champion you were meant to be. Heed the words of John o’ Donohue, “ can transfigure negativity by turning it toward the light of your soul.” Someone else once wrote, “Fear is a habit; so is self-pity, defeat, anxiety, despair, hopelessness and resignation. You can eliminate all of these negative habits with two simple resolves: I can! and I will!”

b) Your success can grow only to the extent you do. Are you willing to do what it takes to grow? Your task is not to avoid failure, but to win big. Avoiding failure is playing it safe, and winning big is being courageous enough to do what you fear.

You’re not alive now, and you won’t start to live until you step out of your comfort zone.

c) Ambika Wauters writes, “All negativity is an illusion created by the limited mind to protect and defend itself.” Ask yourself, “How do I protect and defend myself with continual failure? What am I gaining by failing? Is it sympathy? But do I want sympathy or admiration? Is it safety from disappointment? But do I want the safety of a canary in a cage or the adventures of an eagle soaring to a mountain top? Is it protection from hard work? But if I want to spend my days being as comfortable as a cat sleeping in front of a fireplace, I’ll never be a winner. Yet, if I work hard, I’ll end up being very comfortable.”


In order for our reader to get out of the doldrums, he needs to feel like he is moving forward and is in control of his life. He will feel this way when he stops pondering and starts acting. It is not what we do, but how we do it that counts, so he needs to act with fiery commitment, raging enthusiasm, and persistent effort.

Some may say:

Don’t look…you might see.
Don’t think…you might learn.
Don’t walk…you might stumble.
Don’t run…you might fall.
Don’t live….you might die.

But I say, whether you risk action or not, you will still die. So isn’t it better to die in the same way you came into this world – as a glorious being. You will die, but don’t let the dream die; live up to the potential that was given to you at birth.


a) The first thing our reader can do is become aware of, monitor, and change his thoughts. A good way to begin is by reading “YOU CAN’T AFFORD THE LUXURY OF A NEGATIVE THOUGHT, A Book for People with Any Life-Threatening Illness — Including Life” by Peter McWilliams, Prelude Press, 1995. Yes, you can also read this book for free by visiting

b) An even better book is ”MIND OVER MOOD: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think” by Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padesky, The Guilford Press, 1995. I say this is better because it is interactive. That is, you cannot just read through it, but you have to do the exercises before moving on in the book. So, while the book mentioned in the paragraph above is recommended reading for our reader, “MIND OVER MOOD” is a must for reading, studying, and practicing.

c) Some people respond to the spoken word better than they do to the written word. If this is true for our reader, here is a set of audio CD’s that will help him erase the negative images floating around in his mind. It is time to let go of the notion of seven years of failure. These 15 CD’s will help straighten out his thinking and reprogram his mind. Here are the program details:

PROGRAM NAME: Let Go of the Past Program Cost: $89.95 plus shipping (expensive, but cheaper than a therapist) MORE INFORMATION:

d) We become like the people we associate with. This being so, our reader should make an effort to spend time with positive people. One way of doing so is to join Toastmasters International (public speaking club) or Optimist International (service club). To find a Toastmasters club near you, check:

For an Optimist club near you, check:

While on the subject of Optimist clubs, here is their creed, which is worthwhile following for all of us.


Promise Yourself:
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

e) Our reader is looking for answers, and since answers are the results of questions, he needs to ask himself many questions. Good questions for him to ask include: “Which is better, a low paying job with an income or a high commission job that never pays because of lack of sales? Isn’t it time to change jobs?”

Does our reader understand we can be happy and successful doing ANY job. It is not the job that we have to carefully choose, but our attitude. That is the key to success and happiness. There are no menial jobs, just menial attitudes. What does our reader need to do? The answer is HIS BEST. That is the attitude that leads to success. Mainly, to do our best with what we have at the moment.

f) Our reader can also create his own Winner’s Log Book. It’s simply a journal or diary in which each night he records the answers to the following questions: “What did I do today to bring me closer to success and happiness? What worked and what didn’t?

What will I do differently?” Tracking his activities will keep him focused on his goals and reveal the steps he needs to take for further progress.

I’m sure all readers join me in wishing the reader who sent in his questions great success. Perhaps his questions will help the rest of us to remain focused on our personal success.