What Is Positive Thinking & How Does It Work?



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What Is Positive Thinking? (Video Transcription)

In this video you're going to learn more about what positive thinking is so that you find it easier to think more positively.

The most important thing for you to understand about positive thinking is that it is a useful way of thinking. Not a right or wrong way of thinking, but a useful way of thinking.

To understand this you can think of the classic example of positive thinking, which is to look at a glass as half full rather than half empty.

The idea here is that it's perfectly valid to see a glass as half empty or half full, but if you look at the glass as half empty, and it makes you feel feel really bad and miserable, then that's a negative thought that works against you.

On the other hand, if you look at the glass as half full, and it makes you feel better and happier, then that is a positive thought that is useful because it makes you feel happier and better.

To give you another example, let's say you want to be a happier person. It can be perfectly valid to think a negative thought like "I have a lot of bad qualities". It can also be valid to think a positive thought like I have a lot of great qualities.

The idea here is that if thinking that you have a lot of great qualities makes you feel better and happier, then this is a useful positive thought because it helps you achieve something you want: greater happiness.

For a second example let's say you want to be more confident and more successful. Compare these two different thoughts. You could say "I don't have any friends".

This thought might be a completely true thought, but it's a negative thought because you have low self esteem, less self-confidence, you feel worse about yourself and your situation, and all of this actually makes it harder for you to go out and make friends because you feel bad and less self confident with low self esteem.

On the other hand you can think a valid positive thought like "I can make friends".

This is a true thought but what makes it a positive thought is that it makes you feel more confident, makes you feel happier, and being more confident actually makes you easier for you to go out and make friends, which is what you want to be more successful doing.

So in this way this is a positive thought because it's useful, and makes you more confident and successful in making more friends.

The overall lesson here is that you want to think positively in smart ways that are true, valid, and useful, and that benefit you. And that is exactly what you're learning how to do in these lessons.

So look forward to thinking more and more positively in the lessons ahead, and I'll see you in the next lesson.

End of video transcription.


What are positive thoughts? And how can you tell if your thinking is positive or not, or whether it's helping you or not?

These are excellent questions to ask, because if you want to benefit from the power of positive thinking, it's important to first understand what you're trying to achieve.

Understanding positive thinking

Positive thinking is a way of thinking that benefits you and has an immediate positive impact on your life.

More specifically, you can think of positive thinking as being a way of thinking that:



For example, let's say that you're sad, miserable, or depressed, and you want to be happy. The positive thought 'I can become happy' will naturally help you become happier.

Here's why.

  • When you think, 'I can become happy', and you believe it, you are naturally more confident in yourself and your abilities
  • You are also naturally more motivated and energized to take action to achieve greater happiness, since you believe you can achieve it
  • The result is that you predictably have more success becoming happy, and that you naturally become happier faster and easier due to the positive effects of this thought


Continuing with our example, if you feel sad, depressed, or unhappy, the positive thought 'I can become happy' will naturally help you feel better. 

Here's why.

  • When you think, 'I can become happy', and you believe it, you naturally feel stronger, more powerful, more capable, so you already feel better that way 
  • You also naturally have more confidence in yourself and your abilities; this leads to a greater sense of self worth, as well as greater peace of mind, since you believe that you can do something about your situation
  • This means that simply accepting and thinking the positive thought 'I can become happy' already naturally helps you feel better in many different ways; even if it doesn't instantly make you happy, it's certainly taking you in that direction


Once again, for our example, the moment you believe and accept the positive thought 'I can become happy', it's already helping you become happier faster and easier, and it's already helping you feel better.

It's important to appreciate that:

  • This makes such a positive thought useful to you, since it serves a beneficial purpose
  • The positive effects of a positive thought like this one are immediate, since the moment you think the thought it's already affecting you in some way
  • When you consider how positive thoughts like this one immediately improve your life, it is both sensible and intelligent to deliberately think positively for your own good


Click on any of these qualities for an example of how positive thinking works.

With these beneficial qualities, positive thinking helps you and serves a practical, useful purpose in your everyday life.

This makes it different from useless types of thinking that do not help you at all.

Positive thinking is useful, not 'right'

The most common reasons for thinking more positively are that it helps make you happier, more confident, and more successful.

The overall defining characteristic of positive thinking is that it is useful and immediately improves your life. This distinguishes positive thinking from other types of thinking that are useless and do not improve your life in any way. 

However, this does not mean that positive thinking is the 'right' way to think. Only that it's useful. 

Is the glass half full or half empty?

To understand this, consider the classic example of looking at a glass, and thinking of it as either half full or half empty. 

It's neither right nor wrong to look at the glass as either half full or half empty. 

However, if looking at the glass as half full naturally makes you feel happier, while looking at the glass as half empty naturally makes you feel depressed, then what is the most sensible way of looking at the glass?

Positive thinking is sensible

For this example, if you want to be happy, it makes sense to look at the glass as half full rather than half empty. 

After all, this is a more useful, beneficial thing to do, and it's a completely valid and acceptable way of thinking. So, even though it's not 'right', it's clearly a better way of thinking about things, every way you look at it.

This example captures the essence of what intelligent positive thinking is all about: identifying acceptable, valid ways of thinking that are useful and beneficial, and, therefore, also very sensible and better in every way.

Frequently asked questions about positive thinking

Click on each question to learn more.


  1. What is a positive attitude?  

There are many different ways to talk about positive thinking.

Examples include: having a positive mental attitude, having positive perceptions, developing a positive outlook or a positive focus, engaging in positive self talk, and so on.

And then there is the idea of a positive mindset, which you can think of as being a collection of positive thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and so forth.

In a sense, these all mean the same thing. Because no matter what you call it, every form of positive thinking that people talk about has one thing in common: it’s a way of thinking that helps you improve your life.

And the basic idea is always the same: the more you keep thinking positively, no matter what the circumstances, the better off you are.


  1. Does positive thinking really work?  

Is positive thinking effective for improving your life? Or is positive thinking just some kind of scam?

The answer is that positive thinking is highly effective provided you understand what it is, how it benefits you, and how to think positively.

Think about it: if you don't have these ingredients, you probably won’t think positively in the first place. So it won’t work, if you’re not even doing it.

Unfortunately, this is a common dilemma, especially since people frequently discuss positive thinking in a very vague, general way, so that it’s often not even clear what is meant by positive thinking, or why a positive thought is more valuable, useful, and sensible than a negative thought.

This lack of understanding helps explain (in part) why some people hate positive thinking and are skeptical of it.

So, if you want to get positive thinking to work for you, here are some tips:

  • Have a clear idea of what positive thinking is, how it works, and what it will or won't do for you
  • For example, does adopting the positive belief that you can become happy guarantee that you will find happiness and never feel sad again?
  • No, of course not! That’s not how positive thinking works. But people who don’t understand that will dismiss positive thinking as pointless and reject positive thoughts that could help them.
  • See more
  • In this example, believing that you can become happy energizes and motivates you to try different ways to become happier, which is why you have more success becoming happier. If one way doesn’t work, you try another. And so on.
  • If you don’t become happy, for whatever reason, that’s not “proof” that positive thinking doesn’t work.
  • Rather, being energized and motivated to become happier, and trying all sorts of different approaches to be happier is the proof that positive thinking does work and is helping you.
  • See more
  • If you don’t understand this, you’re likely to reject positive thinking. And so of course it won’t work for you anymore, if you stop thinking positively (or don't even think positively in the first place).
  • So, again, to get positive thinking to work for you, make sure you understand what it is and how it works
  • If you're still not clear on this, go back to the beginning of this of information, and click on each quality of positive thinking to learn more about how it will always work in your favor in some way

  1. How long does it take for positive thinking to work?  

So, let's say you've decided to think positively.

How does positive thinking work? How long does it actually take for you to benefit from more positive thoughts?

Here's some great news: the moment you replace a negative thought with a positive thought, positive thinking is already working for you, either by helping you feel better or helping you achieve something you want to achieve. 

So, very often, you can notice an immediate improvement in your life, just by noticing an improvement in how you feel or in your energy level. 

The very best way to appreciate the power of positive thinking is to just go ahead and try it, and see for yourself whether it works for you. You've got nothing to lose, and everything to gain from it.


  1. How do I know if my thinking is positive or not?  

Back to the basics: what is the meaning of positive thinking?

If you're thinking positively, it simply means that you're thinking in a useful way that benefits you.

So, to determine whether you're thinking positively, ask yourself the 3 Questions For Positive Thinking:

  • Does this way of thinking help me achieve something I want?
  • Does this way of thinking make me feel good or help me feel better?
  • Is this way of thinking useful, and does it immediately improve my life in some way?

If you answer yes to all three questions, you’re dealing with positive thinking.


  1. What are some examples of positive thinking?  

Considering examples of positive thinking can be the best way of understanding why one way of thinking is positive or not.

If this is something that interests you, see this list of positive thoughts

Each one of these thoughts is an example of positive thinking that will help you improve your life, and there is a clear explanation for why each thought benefits you as well as why it makes sense to think the thought.



Learn more about positive thinking

Already, you have learned what positive thinking is, and how you can use it as a tool to improve your life. This is a huge achievement in and of itself.

The next step, for you, is to learn more about the benefits of positive thinking, beyond the 3 primary benefits, and why it's in your best interest to think more positively, since you have a choice in how you think.




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Section 1 Lessons


  1. What is positive thinking & how does it work?
  2. What are the benefits of positive thinking?
  3. What is negative thinking & why eliminate it?
  4. What is the impact of negative thinking?

Next Section In The Positive Thinking Course


Section 2