How reading personal development/self help books helps

Reading a bookphoto © 2007 Karoly Czifra | more info (via: Wylio)
Which of these characters you associate with more closely – the depressed robot, Marvin the Paranoid Android from the movie, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, or, the never depressed, smiling through all troubles, James Bond?

The attitudes you carry in life are due, in large parts, to the experiences you allow into your life. In a way, you control your moods, feelings and actions by what you keep your focus on. If you keep focusing on negative things, like how bad your boss is, or how much trouble you are having with your family etc, you increase your negativity quotient and feel negative and run down generally. On the other hand, if you keep your focus on positive things, like what efforts you are making to get into a better project, or where you are taking that next family vacation, you add to your positivity quotient. The dominant focus on one of these two sort of inputs, determines your general attitude.

This is where reading personal development literature comes in. Reading motivational, personal growth literature adds up as a definite and solid positive experience. All of us come across some piece of literature, once in a while, that makes us feel very motivated, full of energy and enthusiasm. But how long does this feeling last? Just like exercising once a month doesn’t make you very healthy, just like studying once in a year(remember how the student in you woke up magically, just before the exams!) doesn’t make you understand your subjects, reading positive literature once in a while won’t keep you motivated and positive for ever. Doing this once in a while is not enough, it’s all about forming a good habit. When you read on personal development regularly, it adds up to your positivity quotient, so that, over time, you develop a big reserve of positivity inside you.

Avoiding negative experiences. Once people understand how the nature of daily experience moulds their attitude, they sometimes become a little paranoid about avoiding negative experiences. They do their best to keep away from negative people and situations. I would suggest against that. It’s your focus that determines your attitude. When you are trying to avoid negative experiences, your focus is still on negative experience, on avoiding it. Focus rather on positive experience, on gaining it.

Our minds are like a piece of paper. If you roll a piece of paper and keep it like that for long, it retains the roll. The longer you keep the paper rolled, the more is it’s tendency to stay so. If you try to unroll it now, it tends towards staying rolled. If you want to straighten it now by forcibly keeping it flat, it doesn’t help much. As soon as you release it, it again rolls. The trick here is to roll it the other way and keep it that way for some time. Instead of just avoiding bad experiences, go the other way, focus on gathering good experiences, that will help more.

Here are a few other ways to increase your positivity quotient.

1. Positive Friends. Friends add spice to life(or salt, if you are not too keen on spice). Most of us would have experienced being in the company of a very positive person. Remember how you felt a surge of enthusiasm and felt like doing something good yourself? We can cultivate such experiences to happen more often, by consciously choosing the people we surround ourselves with. Seek out positive, enthusiastic people for company, find people who are passionate about what they are doing. It might not happen overnight. Just keep trying and you will find yourself in positive and motivating company, sooner or later.

2. Positive movies. I know a lot of you love being scared out of your wits by scary movies! And I know a lot of you like feeling angry at the corrupt politicians in those political dramas. Unfortunately, they don’t exactly help you stay positive. While what these movies show might be real, your focus on negative emotions and negative state of things pull you exactly to these very things.

Movies with a focus on positive emotions automatically uplift you. Next time when you have to decide on a movie, consciously choose one with a positive, up lifting theme.

3. Positive entertainment. Apart from movies and TV, there are other forms of entertainment we indulge in. I have seen people spend their weekends in various activities including browsing, sleeping, gossiping etc. Look at the activities you indulge in. Do these make you feel positive? If not, seek out forms of entertainment that make you feel so. Some suggestions are – playing sports, learning an art, going out into nature, helping others.

All that you devote your time and focus to, will come back to you over time. Choose wisely, so that when it does, you don’t repent the choices you have made.

And while we are at it, you can subscribe(see Subscribe section above right) for my email updates. It is free, the posts keep you positive on a regular basis, and you do the service of adding to my positivity quotient as well 😉

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