Keeping The Fire In Your Mind Burning

There’s a lot of talk about positive and negative thinking, and why just thinking positively does not change our lives.  When we first step out onto the road of changing our lives by changing the way we think we are aware that shitty things are still going to happen to us, no matter if we are thinking positively or not.

What we also have to be aware of is that thinking negatively will only exacerbate our problems and add to them.  When this happens our problems seem to multiply many times over and we say to ourselves things like:

“I was born unlucky..”

“It always happens to me…”

“Why do I always get the raw deal…”

“Good things never happen to me…”

So you’ve had all these bad things happen to you in the space of a few days: your washing machine’s flooded the kitchen and it’s now not working, your car needs repaired, the boiler has broken down, the hoover has gone bust, your partner is losing his job and the bank want to speak to you about mortgage payments. And then you meet a happy guy like me saying “never mind, every cloud has a silver lining” – Swift punch toward my face ensues.  Has all of the above happened because you weren’t thinking positively: of course it hasn’t.  However, neither has it happened to you because you’re an unlucky person, or because these things always happen to you – they don’t, that is called irrational thinking.

Why thinking positively helps

This is where positive thinking comes into it’s own.  If you are thinking within a positive frame of mind you will be able to deal with all the problems I described above.  You won’t get morose and start feeling sorry for yourself and look for the next disaster to happen, you will deal with each problem in turn until everything has been sorted out, knowing that nothing much else can go wrong.  You wouldn’t be expected to skip around the kitchen singing ‘happy days are here again’, but you will hopefully think ‘It’s only a setback and I can deal with this.’

Think of positive thinking like a camp fire, the more wood you add to the fire the less cold you will be.  If you let the fire run out you will be freezing cold and that cup of coffee you were looking forward to before getting into your tent will not happen.  Positive thinking keeps the negative thoughts at bay: you can’t think two thoughts at the same time so if you are thinking positively it is keeping a negative thought out.  So don’t think that positive thinking alone will change your life rather it will keep the motivational fires burning and keep you taking action toward the things you want in life.

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About Steven Aitchison

I am the creator of Change Your Thoughts (CYT) blog and love writing and speaking about personal development, it truly is my passion. There are over 500 articles on this site from myself and some great guest posters.
If you want to learn more about my products you can check out Steven Aitchison's Products or check out my books and Kindle books on Amazon


  1. I think you bring up a really good point here. People think that if they just begin thinking positively their lives will change. Like you said though, what positive thinking does is keep you moving forward, it keeps you open to new opportunities, and helps you deal with setbacks you run into.

    Those who are massively successful have overcome tons of setbacks…you just have to deal with them and move on… the negative thinkers might not think they are worthy of having such success or begin thinking they aren’t good enough to overcome the setback.

    Positive thinking is life changing… but you might not see it overnight. On top of that if you can begin to combine gratitude practices with your positive thinking, you will take your life, business, relationships, etc. to a whole new level!
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Tribe Syndication Community: How They Work & How They Multiply Your Online Presence =-.

  2. I try to always keep my mind full of positive thoughts.

    I keep negative distractions away from me but if I am forced into some kind of negative lifestyle, I use it to learn, so I can become a better person.
    .-= Beginner DJ´s last blog ..Music Stuck In My Head: 3/07/10 =-.

  3. Steven,

    Thanks so much for a thoughtful post on positive thinking. I love and use the tool of positive thinking. It helps, supports and kick my butt on a daily basis,

    I say “thoughtful” because in this day and age too many people take positive thinking into places it was never meant to reside. The pie-in-the-sky mentality that believes all one has to do is think positive thoughts and all will be well in the world is far-fetched at best, and truly dangerous in the extreme.

    Thank you for “keeping it real.”

  4. Hi Steven,

    I strongly agree, it all begins with attitude and your state of mind. A great way to change your state of mind to a positive mindset is to be grateful for what you have in life, because many people around the world are doing much worst than you. There have been case studies shown by Dr. Emmons that keeping a gratitude journal will make you 25% happier, just an F.Y.I.



  5. Thinking positive is what makes the world go around. The truth is we are all positive, We just been programmed to enjoy misery more.

  6. Hello, Steve. Great information! Another recent development in research around changing thoughts is to acknowledge the negative thoughts that come up, but not give them credence. Then, we can also ask the question: Are these thoughts going to help me or hurt me: will they get me closer to where I want to be?

  7. Positive thinking runs my world. Wouldn’t leave home without it. :)

  8. Hi Baker, thanks for your thoughts on this. I agree with you 100% about our thoughts creating our reality and I also agree that thoughts have an energy and in years to come we will realise how much energy they actually carry.

  9. I enjoyed reading the metaphor you used for adding wood to the fire to keep it hot, and how the wood resembles your positive thoughts. I am convinced at this stage in my personal development that our thoughts are creating our reality, because our thoughts carry an energy that creates the world that we see. I appreaciate this article. You are staying true to your life’s purpose.

  10. I like this way of thinking and thoughts because I am like that. While the vast majority of people around me on the other hand, can be quite hard work with these people but I have hope for them …

  11. We always try to think positive and mostly wide open. This post is for all praise and this is how they should live your life – through positive thinking.

  12. Hi Steve, this is a great post- I am all my life of a positive attitude and positive thinking.
    Must admit that being of a positive nature got me far ahead in life, it is true.
    There is a magic in being positive thinker, it helps to see more sunny days too, when the rain pours…Amazing write, and thank you for sharing!

    Best wishes,
    .-= ZuzannaM´s last blog ..SPECIAL DEDICATION =-.

    • Hi Zuzanna, there is indeed magic in positive thinkers and that’s something we have to realise. Our thoughts truly are magical and we are only beginning to realise how magical they can be. I am researching how thoughts can actually affect our cells and how we can use this to change our lives, it’s quite exciting.

  13. Great article Steven. I laughed so hard when you said, “swift punch toward my face ensues.” When people are in a very negative place, they may indeed get quite irritated by anyone who is telling them to think positively. But it works.

    On January 4, my day started off really crappy. But I used positive thinking to turn it around and I ended up writing a wonderful article on happiness. If 20 things are going wrong at once, that still doesn’t mean everything is falling apart. We can choose to look for 1 thing that’s going right…and use that one thing to focus our thoughts in a way that creates positive change.
    .-= Nea | Self Improvement Saga´s last blog ..How to Be Selfish…In a Good Way =-.

    • Hi Nea, I am glad you had a chuckle to yourself :)

      Your story is another good illustration of being able to mange your thoughts better and how we can overcome lots of negativity with positive thoughts and action

  14. Hi Belinda. So true, I believe if we are happy with life and have a positive attitude we will indeed be at peace.

  15. I agree with what you say here.
    To this: “So don’t think that positive thinking alone will change your life rather it will keep the motivational fires burning and keep you taking action toward the things you want in life.”
    I’d like to add: Positive thinking helps you be at peace with how your life currently is.

  16. I was just sharing with my workshop participants yesterday that since it would be impossible to stop thinking altogether and that we manifest our thoughts, why not just direct our focus them in a better-feeling way. Oh yes, if we keep our inner fires burning brightly, it can take us in new and more empowering directions!
    .-= Evelyn Lim´s last blog ..Universal Studios Singapore Pictures for Vision Board =-.

    • Hi Evelyn, I hope you’re doing great with your seminars. I think you epitomise what I am saying about positive thinking and where it can lead you in your life. Thanks for stopping by Evelyn.

  17. Nice post Steven. I enjoyed reading about your analogy with positive thinking and fire. We can feed the fire with more positive thinking, but we will put out the fire with negative thinking. The fire inside of us is like the fuel that gives us the desire or motivation to succeed.
    .-= Hulbert´s last blog ..My Brother Got Pulled Over by the Police – Part I Interview =-.

  18. You are right that we can not think always positive, but what can we do then? When we are upset and negative thoughts are invading our mind we can keep “busy” our mind – at least – with “mantras”, if we are not able to think positive! We do not have to permit our mind to run its “database”, how the ho’oponopono master Dr. Hew Len says. I have learned this from a video posted on YouTube and it really works! When I am angry and all negative thoughts are coming into my mind I just repeat the ho’oponopono words: ” I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.”. After a few minutes the negative thoughts melt away. Believe me, I have great problems with my father who is 90 old and is suffering of sever Alzheimer disease, without positive thinking you can not resist along a sick man like him. And when I am not able to control my feelings I just keep saying the ho’oponopo “mantras “.

  19. Steve this is one of the best articles I have ever read on positivity. You did a great job of breaking down the irrational aspects of negative thinking, while laying out a grounded form of positive thinking, and I like that. I really haven’t seen that done to the same degree of quality anywhere else.
    .-= Justin Dixon´s last blog ..5 Reasons to Always Be Positive =-.

    • Justin, great to see you about again. Thank you so much for your kind words I really appreciate them. I thought you’d left the world of blogging, but it’s great to see you back. Any readers reading this comment I would urge you to check out Justin’s blog as he has written some fantastic articles.

      • I didn’t leave there was just a while where I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to only write something worth someones time to read, and for a while there nothing I could come up with seemed good enough. I’m realizing now that, that was a mistake and I’m taking action now to move forward. One of the things I’d like to do though is I’d like to start having weekly guest posts appear on my blog to keep me from tiring out again.
        .-= Justin Dixon´s last blog ..5 Reasons to Always Be Positive =-.

  20. OK Steven, Now I am a bigger Fan of yours ;)
    You know i am all for positive thinking..its the theme for my blog…my thinking…my everything. Its gotten me through some tough tough days.
    Even today its so much a part of me…
    a little example was when i was about to deliver my little one..and after 2 days of severe labor pains nothing was happening…I kept taking the pain and telling the doc…its just taking longer..the baby will come down..dont worry. And the doc who was a really old Doctor…the best in town..kept telling me..”i have never seen someone be so optimistic with labor pains! I should be the one consoling you not the other way around” ;) Finally, we had to have a C section…but I came out of surgery and out of the hospital in 24 hrs after….I think my positive thinking helped me heal faster too ;) My mum still keeps complaining I didnt rest after surgery..and that she has had 3 kids but was never like me….all up and about and Not freaking out about a thing with a new baby…;)
    Positive thinking is truly the theme of my life…:)
    Its not that i dont get negative thoughts..i often do…..but somehow the positive take over more naturally now after practice :)
    Thank you fro writing about it so beautifully!
    Much Love,
    .-= Zeenat{Positive Provocations}´s last blog ..Learning To Flow With The Universal Plan =-.

    • Hi Zeenat, great to see you here and thank you so much for your kind words. Your story is a great example of positive thinking in action and I loved your honesty about often getting negative thoughts, I think others look at us sometimes and think we skip around, singing happy songs and saying the world is a wonderful place and we never have negative thoughts :)

  21. Great post Steven. I thought you hit the nail on the head with your explanation about the need to be resilient and accepting of the challenges that come your way. The reality is that we are going to encounter challenges and obstacles from time to time, but we are able to choose how we categorize them and how we respond. When we are able to maintain an overall positive outlook, it is much easier to embrace challenges and respond in a way that allows us to overcome them and move forward. It’s not that we are wearing rose colored glasses and refuse to see challenges, but rather that we find a way to be resilient and accepting of what is in front of us. Thanks again for the great insights.
    .-= alternaview – Sibyl´s last blog ..One Thing You Must Do If You Ever Want to Achieve Things Beyond the Ordinary =-.

    • Hi Sibyl, thanks for your comments. It is hard to be positive and it is a constant struggle but, like you say, it’s easier to deal with the challenges when we are positive.

  22. I think we all get bogged down sometimes and get trapped in the victim mentality -‘ why is this always happening to me?’ Taking a deep breath and realizing that it’s happening to you and to everyone else on the planet, too, can put things into perspective. Good things happen to everyone. Bad things happen to everyone, too. It’s how we deal with the bad things in life that make the most difference. Dealing with things in a positive way and saying to yourself that you will handle whatever comes is the key. We all have the ability to shift our focus from the problem to dealing with it in a positive way so that we can move on.

    Insightful article and I enjoyed reading it.

    .-= Karen´s last blog ..Friday’s Links =-.

  23. Hi Christopher, well said and well presented. I don’t think people choose to be negative, rather they fall into the habit of thinking negatively. Being aware of it will definitely help and it also gives us the choice.

    Thanks for your comments, always appreciated.

  24. It has been said, “if you are weak in the time of disaster, you are weak indeed”. It can never be denied that negative thoughts are crippling in their very nature and should never be entertained!

    Positive thinking doesn’t mean hiding from the problem; it is keeping your sanity to be able to deal with the matter at hand. Many times, when you progress along this line, you even discover that the issue was not as bad as you thought i was.

    Between positive thinking and negative thinking, positive thinking is better. It doesn’t get any simpler than this. :-)

    Thanks for your inspiration
    .-= Christopher Kabamba´s last blog ..A Guide to my idea of Conscious Parenting =-.

  25. Hi Annette, the thing with battling negativity is that we have all been there, we know how hard it is and the only real way to get past it is to keep going, you have the strength to keep going Annette and it will work out.

    You’ve got to give yourself a huge amount of credit, a lot of people would have given up just now, that’s why so many people say that ‘The Secret’ doesn’t work, it’s because they give up too soon.

    You have realised that it’s a long time coming, but honestly you will be so glad you kept fighting through it, as the rewards are just amazing. I have faith in you Annette and I don’t even know you :)

    • Hi Steven,
      Moral support is under rated, thank you. I have read other responses just now and I recognise that not everyone can understand the effects of negative thinking, they are only able to recognise them. Some of us are not inwardly blessed with a positive, forward thinking, a beginning that leads to an upbeat outlook on life. Even I fall victim to mirroring the negativity of my upbringing, I feel that for some of the commentators who do not understand this, it is all too simplistic. It is a too long a time coming and even fighting is tiring, and at times very testing, which is where ‘weakness’ tries to win, but there are moments of great hope and desire/aspiration. I find inspiration in role models, literature, lyris, music and the rare, determined individuals I am lucky to cross, including yourself. Such a battle at times to want to give up and yet know its the wrong way. THANKS for sharing positivity to you and on this occasion also Thelka :)

  26. Hi again Steven,
    Another good article, thanks. I just had an experience when my positivity rocketed and irrational thinking bought me back down again and made the whole thing very confusing. But once I got back to a status quo, once the experience ended, I started blocking most of the irrational stuff in an determined fight to stay true to my own dreams and aspirations, and at this time I found your article in my inbox. The bit that really hit home is that you can’t have two thoughts at once! Sometimes I’d rather not think at all but thats tricky! Its a very annoying process changing into a positive outlook, breaking those shackles and noticing how irrationality drags others down too and trying to reach them, only to get tripped up by my own irrational thoughts again and again. Still, Rome wasn’t built in a day and this article couldn’t have reaffirmed my core strivings better. Appreciated.

  27. Hi Steven
    Great Post. Very aptly put.

    For some reason that I still can’t fathom, negative thoughts seem to work with great efficiency and speed, as compared to positive ones (which are probably slow but more sure footed). So the value of positive thoughts lies in their ability to displace the negative thoughts and prevent these from taking root.
    For sure, Positive thoughts alone will not do the trick, but when compared to the alternative, I guess they do one heck of a great job.

    • Hi Rakesh. Negative thoughts do work faster and they seem to spiral out of control like a thought virus. I believe the reason for this is due to the negativity around us: the newspapers, TV, work colleagues, radio news – negativity sells newspapers and takes up a lot of air time, but the thing is we are no longer shocked by what goes on in the world, and it’s hard for the news to bring stories that are ‘interesting’ so they need to report on bigger ‘shock factor’ stories.

      It’s easy to give up control of the mind and think, ‘the world is a shitty place’ – if you can’t beat em join em attitude ensues and we soon become one of the ones who moan and say things like ‘I would never bring a child into a world like this’. The world has always been full of evil people, it’s only because of the speed of news and the amount of news we see everyday that it seems as if everyone is evil and no one is to be trusted, when in fact the evil among us are in the minority.

      Thanks for your comments Rakesh, they sparked a bit of a rant in me :)

  28. Steven, I absolutely loved this post, the distinction you made is perfect. Positive thinking might not necessary attract all the great things to you and repel bad things like promised in the Secret (even though I believe it can do that too if we work on our core beliefs and make them more positive) but it will definitely keep motivated to keep taking action. And action brings results.

    • Hi Lana, it’s all about the actions :) we can’t change unless we take action so I know exactly what you mean. I think a lot of people just don’t get ‘The Secret’ and they give up on it too quickly.

  29. Hi Steve,

    So true, so true. I’d like to share a recent personal example ?

    Last year I travelled from Australia to the UK with my son for a holiday (that’s an eighteen hour flight). When we got to London we stayed overnight in a hotel and the next morning we had to travel pretty much the full length of the country and arrive by midday to pick up a hire car (they closed at lunchtime). The trip read like something out of that movie “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” as we had to use the bus, tube, railway, taxi etc – and all this with two suitcases, a child and severe jetlag. Its too strong a word to say I was dreading it but I certainly wasn’t looking forward to this part of the holiday at all. Then I decided to stop imagining everything that could go wrong (the crowds, missed connections, lost reservations etc) and visualize it all going smoothly, even enjoyably. I kept reminding myself, “you are here to have fun, it doesn’t matter if you are late and its all going to work out fine anyway.” And it did, everything went as it should and the trip was smooth and enjoyable. We picked up the car with half an hour to spare.

    I am a big advocate of positive thinking, if you make it habitual it helps you to automatically detect the good in life and, at its best, it can be a self-fulfilling prophesy that turns nightmare journeys into pleasant day trips!

    • Hi Gareth, great story and thanks for sharing it. I’ve travelled to Australia before and the journey is not a good one :)

      Your story illustrates, perfectly, what I am talking about. Imagine if you had a totally negative attitude, you would have passed your anxieties onto your son, you would have both been miserable and it could have possibly spoiled the whole trip. However, you chose to stay positive and see the good in the journey. Thanks Gareth.

  30. Steve,

    A great post about a subject very much the topic of conversation in self improvement circles. I’m sure that many of us have been guilty of wearing the victim T-shirt at some stage, only to realise that those down times are short lived and only there because we allow them to be.

    Thank you for sharing.


    .-= Paul´s last blog ..How fussy are you about things in life? =-.

    • Ho Paul thanks for sharing your thoughts. You’re absolutely correct, we’ve all been there and we have allowed them. It’s good sometimes to wallow in a sea of negativity, but only for a short time :) it grounds us and pushes us on to a better life.

  31. hello steve,

    how are you? I love your approach to this topic and i can relate with it today. Water was dripping nto the house from the flat above us, go to work my pc didnt boot for 25 mins, my nokia phone crashed lol!!! all in one day but I am not disturbed.

    A few days ago I had a chat with a blogger on positive thinking and reading this softens my stance which is positive thinking is very useful in our lives but being overly optimistic is were the problem lies because the thoughts are accompanied with realism.

    Have a lovely weekend & take care of yourself. ( don’t tell me you are watching EAST ENDERS right now lol!!!)
    .-= ayo´s last blog ..Are You Wearing A Disguise =-.

    • Hi Ayo, great to hear from you and hopefully you’ve got all the little niggles in your life sorted out :)

      You’re right, being overly optimistic can lead to it’s own problems, we have to have a balance otherwise there wouldn’t be any negative thinking there would only be degrees of positivity.

  32. YAY for thinking positively! It really DOES work!
    .-= Positively Present´s last blog ..the love list: 6 things i’m loving right now =-.

  33. Lovely post Steven

    I’m like you; forever defending my face while the punches rain in from people who have just heard me say “Oh come on, look on the bright side!”

    The nice thing about positive thinking and a positive mindset is that you can do it immediately, you just need to make the decision to switch to the positive. Also the rewards and good feelings come nearly immediately too.

    • Hi Ben, it’s funny how we learn the people we can’t say positive things to :)

      Switching is a good term for it and making the decision can be easy, we still have to work at it every day, but I’d rather work to be positive than work to be negative. Thanks for you comments, I appreciate them.

  34. I really liked this article. I try to focus on being positive each day and choosing to be negativity intolerant. Being negative is bad for the body so just try to avoid it. Sometimes you get the impression that always trying to think positive turns you into a “Pollyanna” and you aren’t being a realist. I liked your spin on the more fact of the matter approach to positive thoughts.

    .-= Laura´s last blog ..Olympic Spirit =-.

    • Hi Laura. I liked your phrase ‘being negativity intolerant.’ I wouldn’t say negativity is bad for the body, however, being in a negative state all the time would be a bad thing, and could possibly lead to mental and physical problems.

  35. Great article Steve. I’ve heard a lot of people object to Secret-style positive thinking for just the reasons you go into here. What’s really powerful about positive thought is how it calls forth more positivity in oneself and others, which ultimately translates into positive action. It’s hubris to think that our thoughts control everything that happens to us, and it’s silly to think that we should *never* have any negative thoughts. They are natural and part of us too, and should not be repressed. But that doesn’t mean we should minimize the impact our thoughts *do* have and relinquish our ability to focus our energy in positive directions to create change.
    .-= Thekla Richter´s last blog ..Three Small Things: On the Horizon =-.

    • Hi Thekla, thanks for you comments and adding to the article. Negative thoughts are natural and it shouldn’t be the goal to banish negative thinking, we have to have a balance. Like you said positive thinking will drive us more to create the change we want.

    • Thekla,

      I really enjoyed your comments. I think you are spot on regarding how positive thoughts call forth positivity not only in oneself, but in others who are “exposed” to positive thinking. This is true of negative thoughts as well.

      While it is true that all of us have negative thoughts, the idea (I think) is to learn when these thoughts are distortions or chronic. Not all thoughts commonly labelled as negative have negative affects. Some are actually quite useful, such as those that serve to assess risks and prevent unfortunate events.

      When I think of truly negative thoughts I think of thoughts that are actually cognitive distortions, or are persistent to the extent they distort our view of reality. These are the thoughts that we should work very hard to minimize.
      .-= Chris Akins´s last blog ..5 ways to make your thoughts more positive and change your world =-.

  36. Good article Steve. Keeping a positive frame of mind in adverse situations allows us to maintain calm enough to deal with whatever is happening in the most effective way.

    Keeping negative thoughts at bay also may prevent additional bad things not only by appropriate response and actions, but also by creating an environment where good things can happen. If you think you will fail at something, you most likely will. At least you give yourself a shot at success when you maintain positive thoughts. And by maintaining positive thoughts you inspire creativity and passion to accomplish goals.

    Then there is the more dire consequences of persistent negative thinking, which can lead to pathological conditions such as major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders and even personality disorders. These are extreme, but persistent negative thought patterns and cognitive distortions (irrational thinking) are all prevalent in mental illness.

    Learning how to maintain a positive frame is a valuable life skill not usually taught or even encouraged in primary schools. Too bad. This is a skill that improves lives and makes society a better place to live in.

    .-= Chris Akins´s last blog ..5 ways to make your thoughts more positive and change your world =-.

    • Chris, you hit the nail on the head when you said ‘learning how to maintain a positive mind is a valuable skill’ – it’s a skill, like anything else we learn in life. It can be enhanced.

      Thanks for your comments Chris, I appreciate them.