Frame your thinking positively and survive.

Positive thinking can result in an 11–15% increased lifespan, according to a study by the National Academy of Science of the United States.

In life, we face challenges. Some things are infinitely more challenging than others. Once in awhile times are so desperate a person gives up hope. No matter how horrible things seem, despair is a temporary condition. People who can keep hope during the toughest times have something worth examining.

How do you change your perspective to be happy in dark times?

Consider Viktor Frankl, who was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. He had every reason to give up hope, but somehow he managed to hold onto positive thinking that kept him believing there was a brighter possibility tomorrow. He shared his thoughts in Man’s Search for Meaning, a book where he chronicled his experiences as a prisoner. Frankl’s days saw horrors few of us can imagine, but somehow he managed to keep hope.

What will it take to have that kind of hope?

While observing others, Frankl noted those who lost hope succumbed to negative thinking and didn’t last long. Sugarcoating the hard, cold reality of death doesn’t make it pretty. But, those who developed positive thinking, a desire for a better tomorrow, lasted longer than those who did not. And, with that hope, some even survived. Survival is not guaranteed but is a more definite possibility for those who have confidence, much more than those who do not have hope.

Charles Dickens, in A Tale of Two Cities, seems to have had a similar kind of thinking:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Often, we don’t know how good we have life until we experience hardship. How we survive horrific times may be the essence of survival itself, and what and how we think. The psychology of our thoughts determines if we survive. Extreme hardships aren’t typical, but they come along once in a while, and when they do, everything in our being begs for normalcy.

Aching for “Normal”

What is normal? Most people, especially in first world countries, are comfortable. Few know the real hardships of finding, having, and using necessities for basic survival. We have forgotten discomfort and the strength we build through having to struggle.

When a butterfly comes out of its cocoon it has to struggle for its wings to build the strength necessary to fly. Most people in first-world countries don’t have to fight for much of anything. When a struggle comes, many people collapse from a life that has been too easy for too long a time. People who do not know struggle have little resilience and lack a source of strength to tap into when adversity comes.

It helps to have motivation.

Get Motivated

Having the motivation to succeed pales in comparison to the inspiration a person offers who has survived horrific times. It’s the difference between a pat on the back and a smile on one’s face while issuing platitudes and inspiring the hope necessary to survive.

See the difference?

If you don’t see the difference yet, you’re about to.

Platitude:

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” — Mark Twain

The words provide motivation but don’t show hardship. The quote may inspire you to get started, but won’t likely offer enough chutzpah to finish the journey. The words are mere platitudes.

Willpower through choosing hope:

“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.” — Viktor E. Frankl

See the difference now?

Frankl’s experiences offer something extra in the hope of his words. He faced death daily and chose positive thoughts. His willpower offers more than platitudes. He could have died, but he made a conscious decision to choose hope. He chooses empowerment instead of despair.

Psychologists say motivation is the desire to act in service of a goal. There’s a big difference between thinking about doing something and actually doing it. And, it’s times of despair when the difference can bring a person to faith because she’s acted even taking action was hard to do. When you act anyway, you can become an inspiration to others.

Hope Inspires Action

Active people are generally healthier people. That’s great for physical activity, but what does it say or do for profound thoughts of the mind? When we are active thinkers, we give rise to hopeful people and happier societies. Hope provides a possibility of something bigger and better than ourselves.

One definition of faith, according to Webster’s dictionary is:

A strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

There’s no proof of faith, and that is the very essence that makes it possible. No evidence, yet, hope. When days are darkest, people who are positive thinkers, develop confidence, not in themselves, but in a powerful belief of something beyond themselves. It’s the beautiful, magical power of positive thinking that isn’t built on platitudes but is built on the strength of walking or having walked, through the darkest of times.

Gruesome life events can bring us to our knees. Sometimes they bring us to a place where we are emotionally weak. We don’t know how to look outside ourselves for a source of strength. Be it karma or a magical power; it’s all in the choice of what and how we think.

Think Positively

When days are dark, may we think back to days where life was easy and may that inspiration foster enough hope to help us make a compelling choice. Choose hope. Choose more than platitudes. Choose to endure difficulty in the strength of a brighter tomorrow.

Do you have enough faith for today to inspire a beautiful tomorrow?

Will adversity break you, or are you strong-willed enough to offer encouragement?

Frame your thinking positively to survive.