Why positive thinking is not enough to get us through the coming months

Adjusting your mindset is crucial to dealing with the massive changes the coronavirus pandemic has brought to our lives. Here’s why.

Gripped by a global coronavirus crisis that’s left us in uncharted territories, it’s easy to feel helpless and even fearful about what the future holds for Australians.

Motivational speaker and author Chris Helder believes changing the way we think can help us better tackle whatever is thrown our way.

“Positive thinking” might be the obvious or most familiar train of thought, but Helder says the only productive mindset – especially in such uncertain times – is “useful thinking”.

Why useful thinking is better than positive thinking

“A lot of people use emotive thinking, meaning their thoughts are ruled by their emotions, whether they be positive or negative,” says the best-selling author.

“The problem is, that mindset doesn’t work and it can actually hold you back. Take the current pandemic, for example – if someone told you to ‘stay positive’, they mean well by the sentiment, but it doesn’t actually solve anything.

“What Australians need to do is transition from emotive thinking into useful thinking. Instead of thinking irrationally, be pragmatic, be practical.”

How to practise useful thinking

“The idea of changing your thought process might sound daunting, but it’s actually pretty simple and straightforward,” says Helder, who explores the concept in his new book, The Simple Shift: How Useful Thinking Changes the Way You See Everything (Wiley, RRP $19.95).

“Whenever you’re in your head, ask yourself, ‘What’s the most useful action in response to what I’m thinking?’.”

Not only does this approach encourage clarity in your thought processing, it helps you overcome obstacles or mental roadblocks.

“When you think usefully, a lot of the thoughts that blur your focus are quickly resolved. Simply asking yourself ‘does this really matter?’ can eliminate toxic or counter-productive thinking, especially when it’s regarding situations out of your control,” Helder says.

3 benefits of useful thinking:

RIP procrastination

Useful thinking forces you to remain mentally switched on and alert to the task at hand and when you do trail off, you just have to ask yourself, ‘is this thought helping me finish this task?, effectively killing procrastination right in its tracks.

You learn to let it go

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights that you have no say in, or control over, some events.

Obsessing and allowing it to consume our thoughts won’t fix the situation any quicker, so accept the crisis for what it is and set your mind to more productive tasks, like providing assistance to those in need, those affected, donating to charities etc.

You will prioritise your wellbeing

At its crux, useful thinking makes you more conscious and self-aware of how you think and what your thoughts gravitate to.

Many people think about how they should eat better or exercise more, but Helder says this thought process forces people to actually take action so they’re not just mindlessly thinking about them.

Written by Charlotte Brundrett.