“I’m feeling so discouraged and anxious when I look at everything that’s happening in the world today,” a friend recently wrote us. It’s hard not to respond in this way when we see violence and hatred running rampant across the globe.
But spiritual teachings are not just pleasant sentiments that we dust off and display on a sunny afternoon. They are powerful tools—invincible weapons, in fact—with which to battle the darkness and negativity that we encounter around and within us.
Paramhansa Yogananda repeatedly stressed the importance of positive thinking in dealing with all of life’s challenges. He said that you can’t drive out darkness by beating at it with a stick. Rather, turn on the light in our consciousness, and the darkness will vanish as though it had never been.
Here are three reasons why positive thinking has the power to transform us:
It Activates Higher Regions of Our Brain
Neurophysiologists are discovering that the prefrontal lobe of the brain, the area located just behind the point between the eyebrows or spiritual eye, is the most advanced part of our brain. When we concentrate there during meditation, we activate that area. This, in turn, enhances our ability to find positive solutions to problems, to develop a sense of well-being, and even to live in a state of unconditioned happiness. It is the seat of what yogis call “super-consciousness.”
But there is a wonderful reciprocal process here. When we determine to respond to life with a positive attitude, we also activate the prefrontal lobe. To put it simply, positive thinking enlists the help of our own brain to respond to life with courage, calmness, and even-mindedness.
It Engages the Power of the Universe
Great men and women throughout history have testified that their ability to accomplish their goals was based on the positive, determined conviction that it was possible. Thomas Edison, the inventor of the electric light bulb, tried for years to discover a material that would work for the filament. After nearly ten thousand failed experiments, his friends tried to convince him to give up. With unwavering energy and conviction, he said, “I have not failed, but have only discovered nine thousand ways that don’t work.”
The universe responds to such determination with the power and energy to press on. And this he did, against all opposition and odds, until he succeeded in creating the light bulb that has changed the world.
It Aligns Us with Divine Joy
Our soul is a little spark of God’s consciousness: the Source of all light, love, and joy. Paramhansa Yogananda wrote: “Remember always that positive attitudes uplift the mind, while negative attitudes take the mind slowly downhill into a private gloom. For just as positive, happy attitudes make one receptive to bliss, negative attitudes estrange one from it. In a negative state of mind, one loses sight of the soul’s all-powerful ability to transcend every difficulty.”
Through positive thinking, we remember that we are God’s children, safe always in the harbor of His consciousness.
Your friend in God,