Being positive? Run this self test

Those who do not know this correct definition of being positive often end up being inimical to others who stand in their way to success not realizing that such apparent obstructions could pave the way for even greater success.

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Being positive is a buzzword these days. Thanks to the new era when on one hand people are degrading, on the other hand some are striving to become good humans. Although we cannot get complete rid of negativity while living in the material world, being positive is a way to keep negative energies at bay. This article is not about how positivity is helpful; it is about what it really means to be positive.

You may have heard motivational speakers, both commercial and non-commercial, who ignite high hopes and inspire in you ambitious dreams of becoming an all successful, invincible emperor of the world. After hearing them you may have felt as if you are done with all the challenges of life and have conquered all of them in one shot. Some make you believe that there is no end to hard working because at the end it pays off, and some even go to the extent of impressing upon the audience that it is perfectly fine to keep ignoring all negative forces around you even if they pose real threats.  Their theory is, by being positive one can get whatever he or she targets, no matter how difficult. Ironically, such unrealistic claims are opposite to what we see in the real world. There are millions for whom mental peace is a thing of the past but still want to believe they are doing great. All in the name of being positive.

One may ask, what’s wrong in being positive even if one doesn’t succeed? Is spreading positive thoughts wrong? Motivational quotes and speakers inspire today’s depressed population. Why can’t we cultivate high hopes and work towards lofty goals? Isn’t being negative discouraged and even condemned by all great leaders, philosophers and successful entrepreneurs?

being positive

Hold on! We are not talking about not being positive nor about being negative. It’s an indisputable fact that positivity is a strength in itself. The idea here is to identify the fine fault line as without knowing it the consequences can be irremediable. People become enthusiastic after leaving motivational seminars or hearing successful friends talking about being positive, but often they don’t get to hear, or misunderstand an important point– what it really means to be positive? The general understanding is, thinking of success in one’s favor is positive and vice versa. This thought process is especially popular in corporate world as that’s what they go after. But this is an inaccurate or incomplete understanding of being positive. At times it could also be misleading.

Read on to know why.

Do you know that at times even failures can be positive? Do you remember learning in mathematics that two negatives make one positive? A good scientist can generate heat even from icy water. The point being made is, negatives are not eternally negatives. They can be transformed into positives by introspection and retrospection. You must have heard successful people’s past and how their negatives turned positives by the right attitude, unflinching faith in divinity being the most proven one.

Needless to say there is absolutely nothing wrong, or it is rather always right to be positive, but only so far you know that the result is not in your hands. Motivational speakers are needed in the society and I believe people benefit from them. What, however, doesn’t go well with me, and I guess with any sound thinker, is the fact that some of them talk as if we are the doers, the controllers and the deliverers of our destiny in this very life. This comes with the idea that this is the only life one has to live and after death everything is over. In reality, however, thinking in these terms is one of the worst sings of becoming negative.

Keeping the following points in mind will help you enhance positivity. It will also help correct some core errors and nail pseudo positivity, the thought process which may appear to be positive but is actually negative.

Being positive does not mean being over confident. Being positive does not mean to think we are the movers and shakers. Determination to succeed is welcome but false pride is destined to fall apart. There is no dearth of people who boast of moving mountains but suffer failures after failures. Positivity is not only in your thoughts; it is a universal energy. It is not a mere imagination of success. It is real and all-encompassing. Subsequently, it is not limited to one’s own success.  Real positivity brings success to all concerned. This is only possible when we understand the principle of vadudhaiva kutumbakam.

Being positive means seeing good in everything, including in failures and in so-called negatives. This vision is achievable by putting in practice the knowledge given in Bhagavad Gita by Lord Krishna. It has rescued millions of people across the world who at one point felt there was nothing left in the life. This is because the knowledge found in the book deals not only with material energy but also its relation with the superior spiritual energy. While many may be reading Bhagavad Gita, the secret is to read the right version coming through disciplic succession, which keeps the knowledge intact. I follow Bhagavad Gita As It Is, by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada as it shows a practical way of leading an ethical and spiritual life.

The first thing that comes to mind is Lord Krishna’s statement referring to those who think they are the doers and controllers of the result. He says prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvasah ahankara-vimudhatma kartaham iti manyate (B.G. 3.17). Meaning, “the bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.”

Now, if not thoroughly understood, the above statement could add to one’s already existing bewilderment. This is why, spiritual knowledge should be received from a bona fide spiritual master.  Lord Krishna is not saying that prakriti is responsible for everything you do nor does He say that you need to do nothing. What He says needs to be understood in light of His statement in Bhagavad Gita 2.47 wherein He says “never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty”. So do your duty and leave the result in the hands of the Supreme Lord. Since God is the best well-wisher of all living entities, not only of those in human bodies at present, the result He delivers would be in all living entities’ ultimate benefit. That is the best meaning of being positive.

Those who do not know this correct definition of being positive often end up being inimical to others who stand in their way to success not realizing that such apparent obstructions could pave the way for even greater success. Also, when they see their opponents getting success, they turn envious. This happens due to a selfish understanding of success and failure. Isn’t it inhumane and terribly insensitive to rejoice when success comes at the cost of others’ suffering? Energy surrounding such success cannot be called positive at all. At the same time, there are cases when people have gone into depression for having failed despite holding high hopes.

While a victory almost always entails defeat of the opposite party, such defeats are also positive if looked upon from a higher perspective. Besides, situations of win-win do exist. The most effective way of pulling out a win-win is Krishna consciousness. Follow it thoughtfully and see the result for yourself. Although difficult, being happy for opponents’ success is also a way to enhance genuine positivity. Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita 4.22 that a person who “does not envy, who is steady in both success and failure, is never entangled, although performing actions.” This is a big thing if we realize how entangling the cycle of karma is.

Remember, this life is not the only life you have ever lived nor is it the last life you are living. Believe or not and like it or not, life will continue into eternity. What will perish is the material body, which is, in a sense, good for nothing unless used in working towards the goal of human life. This does not mean neglect bodily needs. Keep the body healthy so it can be optimally utilized in achieving the goal.

According to Bhagavad Gita and other Vedic scriptures, the goal of human life is liberation from the bondage of the material world. A prison house is after all a prison house no matter how spacious and full of facilities. Liberation or moksha is not the end either. Real joy of life begins after liberation as it embraces eternity. Life in the eternal world is full of varieties where absolute positivity and experiencing immense pleasure in the pleasure of the Lord is the way of life. It’s a world of perfect and unending reciprocation between the Lord and His innumerable devotees.