“I will win the next International Chopin Piano Competition.”
No matter how good I am at positive affirmations, that won’t work: I do not play piano.
I tried to read books on positive thinking, but they made me mistrust the genre. The idea that you can achieve anything by positive thinking makes no sense. For example:
- I can’t win a competition by thinking that I will win. Indeed, everyone can think positively that they are winners, but only one person actually wins.
- I can’t replace work with positive thinking. I will not improve at playing the piano until I take lessons and practice.
- I can’t create the impossible. I can’t turn my eyes blue, no matter how hard I think.
Positive thinking might actually be harmful. I can invest tons of time into trying to change my natural eye color by using my thoughts, when instead I could just use my money and buy some colored contact lenses. Or, if I think myself rich, I might start spending more money than I have and end up bankrupt.
However, perhaps I should not have totally dismissed the idea of positive thinking. While it does have logical inconsistencies, such as those in my examples above, maybe there are ways in which positive thinking is helpful.
First, we should treat these beliefs not as a guarantee, but probabilistically. For example, if you think that you can win the piano competition, the judges will feel your confidence, and may give you slightly better marks.
Second, positive thinking can work, if we choose our affirmations correctly. I recently discovered that I am deceiving myself into believing that I am hungry when I’m not. I should be able to reverse that. I should be able to persuade myself that I am not hungry when I am.
I decided to start small. I tried to persuade myself that tiramisu doesn’t really taste good. Once that seemed to be working, I got more serious. I bought a couple of CDs with affirmations for weight loss.
Unfortunately, they want me to lie down and relax. I do not have time to lie down. I could listen when I am driving or when I am cleaning my kitchen. Hey, does anyone know some good weight-loss affirmations CDs that do not require relaxation?