Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cultivating Positivity

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Cultivating positivity in the face of unwanted happenings is not a matter of ignoring what’s wrong in your life, of wearing rose colored glasses, but instead a matter of mindfully placing these unwanted happenings in their proper perspective.

In terms of cognitive behavioral therapy the cognitive distortion that most of us fall into when we have a problem is all or nothing thinking. With all or nothing thinking there are no shades of gray, no middle ground. Things are either this way or that way. Life is perceived in black and white so that the complexity of the situation is ignored. In the context of this article, the unconscious thought process goes, “Because something is wrong with my life it means everything is wrong with my life.”

Thich Nhat Hanh uses the example that if you’re walking through a garden and notice some plants withering and dying you don’t decide that the whole experience is ruined or that the garden has nothing to offer. There are still countless wonders to enjoy, still many plants that are thriving.

We don’t have to ignore the parts of our lives that are withering to cultivate positivity, we just have to make sure to pay attention to the parts that are thriving, to the countless wonders all around us that can still be appreciated despite whatever is wrong.