If happy thoughts are not reaping you the benefits you want, these four tools will positively change your life, says best-selling author and positive thinking sceptic Gary Douglas.
In fact, Gary, who is also an international speaker and founder of the global community, Access Consciousness, has a message for those struggling to master the art of positive thinking. “It rarely works”, he warns.
According to Gary, since The Power of Positive Thinking by Rev. Norman Vincent Peale was first published in 1952, society has been bombarded with the idea that life can be happier if only we willfully choose to imagine it that way. However, Gary cites several recent studies that reveal a new truth about positive thinking – it rarely works and can actually increase feelings of shame and despair.
“Much has been written about the power of positive thinking but it requires a lot of effort and, most of the time, it offers few results”, Douglas says.
This perspective is backed up by science, with research showing that positive thinking has little or no effect on an individual’s ability to succeed or realise their dreams. Gabriele Oettingen, a psychologist at New York University, concluded after years of study that optimistic thinking could actually hinder people from reaching their goals.
According to Douglas, the biggest concern is that most individuals regard positive thinking as a definitive solution to life’s challenges, and this can lead many to believe that they are somehow failing. “All too often, when you work really hard at positive thinking and things don’t change like you want them to, you decide that there must be something wrong with you”, he says. “But if positive thinking and affirmations have not worked for you, you are not alone. And, there is nothing wrong with you!”
Instead of positive thinking, Douglas has formulated four practical tools that he believes are much more impactful at creating long-lasting, positive change:
1. Choosing. Not Doing
“Most of the modalities that focus on positive thinking and affirmations are all about doing; you have to do this, you have to do that. It’s all about effort and hard work and willpower. No one can do this for long!” says Douglas.
Instead, he encourages people to understand that everything in life is a choice and to empower themselves to choose anything that truly works for them, rather than doing it out of duty.
2. Letting Go. Not Overcoming
“Positive thinking doesn’t work because what you’re doing is trying to use a positive affirmation to overcome a negative point of view that you already have about yourself,” Gary explains. “Your point of view creates your reality. If you have negative points of view about yourself and would like a different reality, you’ve got to change your points of view.”
He recommends saying ‘Interesting point of view. I see that point of view’, 3–10 times for every point of view that you notice throughout your day. It will gradually lose value, until you start to feel lighter. In this way, your current points of view stop being “real and true” to you and become simply interesting. You now have the ability to choose something else.
3. Releasing Thoughts. Not Replacing Them
Gary maintains that 98% of the thoughts, feelings and emotions that you are experiencing don’t actually belong to you. “We are all like psychic radios picking up on everyone around us which means almost all of the thoughts that are running through our heads aren’t ours,” he says. “No wonder our positive thinking attempts can’t make it stop. You’re trying to fix thoughts, feelings and emotions that don’t even belong to you!”
To clear yourself of others’ thoughts and emotions, Gary suggests asking, “Who does this belong to?” for every thought or emotion you notice throughout the day. If you feel lighter when you ask this question, those thoughts, feelings and emotions were never yours. Simply say, “Return to sender” and notice the joy that shows up.
4. Ask Questions. Not Affirmations
“The thing about affirmations is that they are based on decisions and conclusions. You decided what was wrong with you that needed to change; you concluded that a particular positive thought was the answer. Decisions and conclusions stop new possibilities from showing up because your cognitive mind can only recognize what it already knows” Douglas explains.
To go beyond what your mind already knows, Douglas recommends you ask questions about everything that you would like to be different: What is this? What can I do with it? Can I change it? How can I change it?
“These four questions will serve you better than anything in life,” he says.
ABOUT: Best-selling author, international speaker and a sought-after facilitator, Gary Douglas is acknowledged worldwide for his unique perspectives on personal transformation. He pioneered a set of transformational life changing tools and processes known as Access Consciousness® over 20 years ago. These leading edge tools have transformed the lives of thousands of people all over the world. Access Consciousness is in 173 countries with over 3000 facilitators worldwide. Simple but so effective, the tools facilitate people of all ages and backgrounds to help remove limitations holding them back from a full life.
Gary Douglas is in Australia in November for a series of workshops. For more information visit here.
Photography by Katie Tegtmeyer