Beatie arrived from New York by train and since I had coordinated her visit, I had the privilege of getting her from the train station to the school where she was speaking. The time we had gave me a chance to get to know Beatie as a person a little, aside from all the fame and fanfare. And she’s an awesome person. I’ve followed her stories and know a lot about her philosophy towards running and accomplishing things in life and I’ve seen that she has a unique ability to conquer things using the power of positive thinking. After all, she went from not running to being a national champion in a matter of less than four years - you have to be doing something pretty unique if you can accomplish that! She talks a lot about the mental game of believing in what you can accomplish, setting goals and not letting negativity stand in the way of those goals and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Either way, during our car ride, I mentioned to her that she’s an incredibly emotionally healthy person and asked if that was by nature or something she consciously chose - and she told me she worked hard on it and learned from different experiences to develop that attitude.
Which brings me to today’s topic - the power of positive thinking. I think that most people believe you are either positive by nature or “practical” (ie negative/realistic depending who you’re talking to). I actually believe we have a choice in these matters. And when it comes to our kids, I think we can choose to model this ability so they can choose to take a positive outlook in their lives. Being positive in positive situations is a no brainer - when things are going well and your child is thriving, it is easy to be positive and encouraging. It gets a bit dicier when challenges arise and things are not looking up. When it seems that you should just tell them not to try, when we want to prepare them for failure so they aren’t hurt or disappointed, those are the times when we have the hardest time encouraging positive thinking.
One of the things Beatie said that resonated with me was to set big goals, HUGE goals - and not to be afraid of failing. The fear of failure hijacks our thoughts and doesn’t allow us to be positive. But the amazing thing about thinking positive is it affects more than your mind and attitude, it actually transforms your physical abilities. Negative thoughts actually bring the negative results. I was running the other week and I felt so tired and draggy but every time around the track I told myself - you can make one loop around, anyone can do one loop around - and at the end I had finished a 6 mile run and my last mile was actually my personal record. I honestly hadn’t thought myself capable of that speed but I just told myself I could do it and I did. It almost sounds like a pep rally speech that can’t possibly be true and yet I’ve seen and felt it in action. Sometimes just verbalizing to our kids that they’re capable will give them the boost they need to try. And failure is actually ok as long as you tried your best and gave it your all. We learn from failure, it’s a springboard for future success. But the attitude you bring to the table really determines the kind of meal you’ll eat.
I know a lot of parents think they need to teach their kids to be realists - and I agree, you need to show them realistic scenarios in life so they have attainable goals and don’t face constant dissatisfaction in their lives - but there’s a lot to be said for balancing that with some big goals, and positive thoughts. Having dreams is important, it shapes you and gives you things to look forward to and strive to become. Believing you can do it makes it possible. If you don’t truly believe it is possible you won’t achieve it.
“The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.”
Being emotionally healthy has many aspects, but the ability to focus on the positive, believe in the positive, and set your mind towards it is an extremely hard but worthwhile exercise in life. Just because the negative exists doesn’t mean we must focus on it. I believe the choice is ours to make.