Thoughts cause feelings, and the wrong kinds of thoughts can cause stressful feelings.
We can look at the same event different ways. One is in the optimistic way and the other is pessimistically. It is the age old debate of whether to look at the glass as half full or as half empty.
It helps if you can learn to look at the good things in life rather than the ugly. For example, if you got into a car accident and totaled your car, you can sit there and feel sorry for yourself, or angry for losing the car. These are all self-defeating. On the other hand, you can thank god that you were not killed or, worse yet, maimed in the car accidents. When you look at life's events like that you will have something to smile at every event and that is the power of positive living.
Robert Schuller, the author of "Tough times never last. Tough people do!" gives the following guidelines in looking at problems in the proper perspective:
Every Living Human Being Has Problems.
Perhaps you are unhappy with your work. Isn't it good that you have a job rather than being unemployed? Many people have the mistaken notion that successful people do not have any problems. It is not true. Success tends to breed its own set of problems.
Everyone has problems. A problem-free life is an illusion - a mirage in the desert. Accept the fact that everyone has problems. This will help you to move on with your life rather than sitting and feeling pity for yourself.
Every Problem Has A Limited Life Span
Every mountain has a peak and every valley has a low point. Similarly, life has its ups and downs. No one is up all the time or down all the time. Problems do get resolved in the long term. They don't last forever. History teaches that every problem has a limited life span. Your problems will not live forever; but you will! Storms are followed by sunshine. Winter is followed by spring. Your problems will get resolved given enough time.
Every Problem Holds Positive Possibilities
There are two sides to every coin. What may be a problem for one could be interesting opportunity to someone else. Hospitals are there because people get sick; garages are there because cars do break down; lawyers are there because people get in trouble with the law occasionally. Every cloud has a silver lining.
Every Problem Will Change You
When me meet problems head on in life, they leave their indelible mark on us. The experience could make you better or worse. It is up to you. What is certain is that problems never leave us the same way they found us. We will change.
For example, let us say that you lost your job. You can sit and feel sorry for yourself. Or you can be aggressive and decide to do something about it. You are better than them. You want to show them what a mistake they did in firing you. You have to be fired before you can be fired up. That may be wake-up call you needed before embarking on a successful mission. Again, for every problem, there is a positive and negative side. Look for the positive side and work on it.
You Can Choose What Your Problem Will Do To You
You may not be able to control the problems, but you certainly can control your reaction or response to the problem. You can turn your pain into profanity or into poetry. The choice is up to you. You can control the reaction even if you cannot control the problem. You control the effect of the problem by controlling the reaction. It can make you tough or tender. It can make you better or bitter. It all depends on you.
There Is A Negative And A Positive Reaction To Every Problem
Tough people, according to Schuller, have learned to choose the most positive reaction in managing problems. The key is that they manage their problems. Remember, we have little control on problems, we have control on how we react and manage the problem. Positive people chose to react positively to their predicaments.
Do you automatically interpret silence on the part of your spouse to mean anger when it could just as easily mean fatigue? Do you blame yourself when a sudden downpour drenches your wash on the line? Do you dwell on the few times your boss criticized your performance and ignore the innumerable times she's praised you?
We all fall into the negative thinking rut from time to time. We badger ourselves with "should haves" and lose sight of the fact that "good" and "bad" in life is rarely black and white.
All-or-nothing thinking can lead to anxiety, depression, feelings of inferiority, perfectionism and anger. We are our worst enemies. We tend to put a higher standard for us compared to others. We tend to criticize ourselves for our miscues rather than being happy for the accomplishments. Allow yourself to fail now and then. It's all part of being human.