Focus on pros, not cons

If you were to suggest to me that I become a vegetarian my initial response would be “hell no, I can’t exist on leaves and I hate root vegetables.” That’s because most of us, by default, tend to focus on the down-sides of any idea presented to us. At least, that’s the impression I get. It may be a deep-rooted survival strategy to play safe rather than take risks. Whenever someone makes a suggestion we immediately begin racking our brains to find objections to it. The majority do anyway — the more positive-minded will get excited and begin thinking of ways to make the idea even better. You could have some fun doing a little exercise for yourself — try suggesting something to a few friends and family and see what their initial reactions are. Perhaps something like “let’s have a go on a zip-wire next weekend”. See how many jump at the idea. And how many find excuses — “sorry, I’m getting the dog’s toenails clipped” — that sort of thing.

Going back to the vegetarian thing, if someone asked me to name my favourite foods I might say, in no particular order, “cheese, ice cream, chocolate, pizza with mushrooms and chillis, macaroni cheese, chips, baked potatoes with butter…” — said someone might hold up a hand to stop me at that point, then they might say to me that I could still have all of those things if I were a vegetarian. They would be forcing me to think of the positives. If I really stop and think about it, I don’t actually eat that much meat anyway. I like chicken, and I’m partial to a bacon sandwich, but if I think about the things I could still have as a vegetarian rather than the things I’d have to give up I find myself thinking that maybe it wouldn’t be so tough for me to do after all. It’s one of the great benefits of positive thinking — if you embrace an idea and focus on what good may come of it then it becomes an opportunity, an adventure. You will have a far richer life than if you focus on what’s bad about an idea, which will result in you talking yourself out of it. You only get one go at life so take the risk, think of the pros and not the cons and enjoy yourself.

It reminds me of a quote from Star Trek Insurrection — “Your restraint puzzles me. You continue to deny yourself all the benefits this mission has to offer”. Life is your mission. Enjoy the benefits.