Start today in an additive way rather than a subtractive one

Positive thinking?

All very well in theory, but surely pointless to even contemplate it when you’re stuck in one of life’s ruts.

The very thought of it, conjuring up images of slick, tanned, shouty, motivational experts exhorting their audiences to ‘Go For It!’ (woo-hoo) is enough to give any sensitive soul the heebie-jeebies.

Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t think life is supposed to present us with non-stop glee.


I believe, instead, that – just as we have night and day, light and shade – it’s really quite normal to have bad days as well as good, lousy as it feels when we find ourselves in the former.

Being sceptical about unfettered positive thinking, however, doesn’t mean completely turning your back on all of its arguments.

The two most basic operators in arithmetic are plus and minus, represented respectively by a positive and negative symbol.

As a young child you probably first learned to add up, then to take away.

It’s probably helpful to remember these fundamental principles when it comes to approaching your day.

One way of doing so is to go into it believing that everything is going to go wrong, that it will be wall-to-wall gloom.

In effect you’re approaching it in a ‘taking away’ frame of mind.

The alternative?

Well, just as it would be foolish to pin all your hopes on a massive lottery win, it’s probably not realistic to expect that your day can ever be faultlessly perfect.

However, I think it’s certainly possible to go into it with an ‘adding’ mindset.

You’ll face many small decisions today, even about things as trivial as what to watch on TV, what to eat for lunch and what to say to a friend.

Imagine coming to each of these with the aim of making a choice that adds to your overall wellbeing rather than taking away from it.

They may seem like tiny actions, but they accumulate over time.

I expect that adding was the first arithmetical concept you learned: time to apply it to your day, perhaps?

3 thoughts on “Start today in an additive way rather than a subtractive one

  1. Trying to be positively optimistic, difficult at times but I know things are always on the move, so trying to keep my language positive… I know I’m down today but yesterday was good and later I may well feel different.

  2. I love your second paragraph Jon about motivational speakers.
    I know I over think about my situation, difficulties getting enough restorative sleep and low moods etc and these thoughts tend to be negative. I often wonder what “normal” people (i.e those who would never label themselves as anything, they just get on with life with ups and downs but no underlying mood to dominate them) ruminate about. I am sure they think positive and negative thoughts throughout the day but don’t attach much if any significance to the negative as we would do. The thoughts are just there and part of a normal day.

  3. I love this! It’s much easier to keep going when the tasks are small, and eventually it all adds up to a big outcome.

    I love the idea of making concious choices for wellbeing, even in the smallest ways. For someone like me who is prone to negative thinking it is a managable way to start to change thinking patterns.

    Thanks for a great post 🙂

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