Genevieve Vieira
3 minute read
11 Apr 2014
5:00 pm

Equip yourself to move forward

Genevieve Vieira

American author and motivational speaker Lou Holtz once said, "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it."

Image courtesy Free Images.

Overcoming adversity is always a challenge. Regrettably, some people face more hardships than others, but it doesn’t matter if you’re the Queen or a pastor’s daughter; sooner or later life is going to throw you a curveball.

When this happens, there is only one of two ways to respond. Either you accept the challenge and tackle it head-on, or you ask “Why me?” and drown in self-pity and the unfairness of life.

It’s very easy to get caught up in feelings of despair. This is not because we don’t know what the right answer should be, but because we don’t have the appropriate tools to deal with the problems we have. Finding a solution often begins with trying to have a positive attitude.

Take Thomas Edison, inventor of the electric light bulb. He developed thousands of prototypes before finally getting it right. He failed time and time again, but never let his struggles get the best of him.

In fact, all his failures simply showed him what not to do. Imagine he had given up and thought to himself, “Who am I kidding? I can’t do this.”

Edison’s resilience brought about one of the world’s greatest inventions, forever changing people’s lives all over the world.

Image courtesy Free Images.

Image courtesy Free Images.

So what exactly is positive thinking? It’s about approaching life’s challenges with a positive outlook. It’s important to understand that buying into it as a strategy does not mean nothing bad ever happens to you, but rather that you make the most of potentially bad situations.

Pessimistic individuals, on the other hand, tend to blame themselves when things go wrong.

The good news: every challenge we confront makes us stronger and shapes us into who we are.

This topic has been increasingly brought to the forefront recently, with research showing a strong correlation between positive thinking and health.

A positive mind anticipates favourable results, which brings with it happiness and joy. According to Kendra Cherry, author of The Everything Psychology Book, positive thinkers have shown to have better stress coping skills, stronger immunity and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

With a positive attitude we experience pleasant and happy feelings, ultimately reducing the effects of stress on the body. So even if positive thinking does not come naturally to you, it’s time to learn how to make it work for you.

It doesn’t matter what your current circumstances are – if you persevere, you will transform the way your mind thinks and consequently change your circumstances.

Image courtesy Free Images.

Image courtesy Free Images.

Cherry suggests the following:

 Avoid negative self-talk

Self-talk involves the things you mentally tell yourself. If your self-talk focuses on negative thoughts, your self-esteem will suffer. Take notice of your thought patterns and then focus on changing them into more positive ones.

 Try humour

Even when you are facing challenges, it is important to look on the bright side of life. Be open to humour and allow yourself to laugh, even if it means sitting down to watch a comedy show or telling jokes.

 Cultivate optimism

Learning to think positive is like strengthening a muscle; the more you use it the stronger it will become. Take a moment to analyse the situation, and consider how you can manipulate it into something favourable. Give yourself the credit you are due. Avoid blaming yourself for things that are out of your control.


There’s no on-off switch for positive thinking. It takes effort. Recall difficult events in your life and find the positive in them.

Be accountable to friends and family and whenever you engage in negative speak ask them to redirect you.

Investing energy into things you enjoy can also encourage positive thinking.