Thinking Positive Is Nice, but Is Not Enough

by Annique Mclune


Presently, there exists a culture of “Positive Thinking” that endeavors to reduce instances of success to sheer will power alone. The claim is that thinking positive subsequently leads to good things happening.

Contrary to popular belief, the world does not bend to our will. My belief is that you can never be truly positive without first understanding how structure affects your outlook in relation to positivity.

The transition from high school to a tertiary institution causes many students to have expectations for their college outcome, yet they find themselves unprepared for the workload and the change in environment. There is a distinct structure throughout high school that is goal-oriented and geared towards college preparedness and overall success.

One of the problems that can be attributed to the system is that there is a lack of experimentation, critical thinking, and fostering of the development of students’ ideas. As such, students are plagued with self-doubt and a dwindled capacity to remain positive.

In order to improve positivity among college students , the solution can be drawn from academia , specifically philosophy. Great philosophers such as Socrates and John Dewey both had ideas that tackled change to bring forth stability in society. The common ground in both theories is that there is a method, whether the Socratic method or scientific method, that will generate an opportunity to grow while providing the capacity for positivity.

High school provides a set of ideals as well as beliefs that are tailored to help you flourish. Yet, once you arrive in college those ideals are challenged and there is no clear understanding or rationale in defense of holding those ideals which fosters self-doubt and negativity.

This is where methods come into play. There needs to be a method that can intelligently allow a person to arrive at new beliefs when older beliefs can no longer be embraced. John Dewey’s idea of the scientific method allows an individual to self correct and embrace the fallibility we possess as humans in education. Putting forth a hypothesis and then taking the necessary steps to support it, will provide a person with the ability to rectify errors and make changes in ones mentality.

As humans evolve, we need to make adjustments in relation to a change in the environment in order to survive, which can inevitably lead to a more substantially positive individual because you are aware that being fallible is not a cause for self-doubt and negativity but the perfect opportunity to grow, adjust, and be comfortable with it.

The Socratic method, on the other hand, is a teaching method where both parties involved learn with a formula that is logical. This was captured in PhilosophicalEggs.com by Dr. Dwight Goodyear.

“But not facing the death (Socrates referred to philosophy as “the practice of death”) of one’s beliefs is to run the risk of being rigid when life’s changes demand the flexibility of radical belief revision,” Goodyear said.

This simply means we need to be ready and willing to change as well as learn from ideals we hold true in order to fully actualize and not become beholden to them. This is pertinent in changing to be a more positive person.

Positive thinking is necessary but it needs to work in tandem with a methodology  which provides a way to intelligently transform conditions through action. Educational institutions on the collegiate and secondary level need to provide individuals with the ability to make adjustments for fallibility and self-correcting in a new structure.

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