Positive thinking: Have you guys ever... - CHADD's Adult ADH...

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Positive thinking

cjnolet
cjnolet

Have you guys ever heard of the power of positive thinking?

This theme has popped up in several books I've read now- from Jack Canfield to Steven Covey to Miguel Ruiz, Dale Carnegie, Normal Peale.

In fact, some people attribute their whole success in life to learning how to maintain a positive outlook, all the time. Some inmates in the Holocaust were still able to find positivity in their situation- and were said to have died with their dignity. People with terminal illnesses are still able to, rather than dwelling on the negative thoughts of knowing they might not be alive much longer, focus on the beauty of what the universe has provided for them all the years they were alive.

So why is it that we allow ourselves to fall into these wretched negative thoughts? Condemning ourselves and dreading the valuable moments that we have on this earth? If we were to be able to jump through the multi-verse and have a conversation with our 80-year-old selves, I'm positive they'd tell us "You have it good. Keep your positivity and thrive".

It seems all too often we get ourselves caught up thinking our happiness will only come from rigid goals, material wants, and that hopefully, "the future will be better". I got news for you- if you don't figure out how to think positive now, winning the lottery isn't going to help you do it.

What is it that you want and expect out of the world? What things fill you with so much joy that you know if you could live eternally with them in your life, you'd be complete? Those are the things you need to surround yourself with. Those are the thoughts you need to keep you going.

Life isn't supposed to be bad. We weren't put on this earth to suffer but rather to thrive and enjoy the experience. It's a miracle we're here to begin with. If we spend the whole time moaning and complaining, what's the point of being here at all?

Just a thought for the day. I challenge you to practice staying positive. Whenever you find yourself fearful, get the bottom of why that is so and ask yourself if your sentiment is making it better or worse. If you find yourself angry, unable to forgive, or feeling hopeless- remind yourself of what it is about this reality that you truly love. Think happy thoughts and you will fly.

11 Replies

Very well-done essay cjnolet. My brother reads more extensively than me, but to just list a couple or 3 of what I see as some of the best on the subject of "mindfulness" and related concepts such as positive thinking. First is "The Power Of Now" by Eckhart Tolle - can access good review @ getabstract.com/en/summary/.... I also got a lot out of "What Really Matters" by Tony Schwartz; more @ amazon.com/What-Really-Matt....

It is easier said than done, but what the best authors have in common is to make the point that we cannot change what happened in the past and so should not waste time gloating over our successes or whining over our failures. We also cannot anticipate exactly what the future holds for us, so being dreary and negative on the one hand or over-confident and full of false glory will do nothing. If each person could regularly make the effort to be at peace, "smell the roses", feel the breeze etc., positive things are more likely to happen as a result and it will be easier to get through the difficulties we all face.

cjnolet
cjnolet in reply to Packman

Thank you for the recommendations. I'll check them out. From my end, a couple really good ones I've read are "Wherever you go, there you are" by Jon Kabbat-Zin, "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" by Shunryu Suzuki, "A Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for the Age of Anxiety" and "Become What You Are" both by Alan Watts.

There's many persistent messages across these titles for sure. The law of attraction, mindfulness. Of interest on the topic of controlling our thoughts is recent research that suggests exercise, mindfulness, positivity actually do have a physical effect on our brain chemistry. For me, this phenomena runs very very deep.

I believe a lot of us tend to think of our brains as this black box, the internals of which we have no control over. I tend to think of the brain more as I would think of my arms and legs- many of the properties we are able to manipulate through exercise.

But mindfulness and gaining control over our thoughts is only a part of what I'm attempting to explain in my post. There's another dimension entirely, which is the ability of one to also influence the world around them through their thoughts. I'm not referring to black magic or a hidden latent "energy". I'm actually not referring to a spiritual force whatsoever. By literally controlling our thoughts, we are able to attract, repel, and bend our reality.

I think a lot of it comes down to general psychology, though I'm not a psychology buff. It makes intuitive sense, though, that we would be able to better control our reality when we are both living in the now AND maintaining proper control over the ratio of our limbic:pre-frontal responses. When the ratio is high (mostly limbic), we're not using our intellect to reason about our world. However, when we're too much pre-frontal cortex, we get anxiety and we don't allow our natural tendencies to take over, allowing us to live more in the now.

I believe that by maintaining positivity, we are finding the right balance between these competing universes in our brain and we are better able to respond to our environment in thoughtful ways, thus sending an instant message to those around us that "we have it together", we're "able to be trusted", and we're "level-headed". These types of qualities, along with the proper meaning, are one of the reasons I believe good leaders attract.

I guess that's the purpose of my message. I may just be a young guy in my mid-30's with ADHD, but I've been looking back at my accomplishments over my lifetime and I'm realizing I have no reason to lack self-confidence. Nobody does. That self-empowerment brings about a special independence that gives me the fuel I need to stay balanced and healthy, which is further fueling more positivity, which is even fueling more energy and passion to be myself and surround myself with things that bring me joy, and so forth....in a cycle.

I hope this makes sense. I don't come on here to preach. Rather, I hope that my insights and my journey might one day inspire others to self-improve and thrive, live in joy, whatever it is they are seeking. Better yet, perhaps more individuals who have improved their own lives will come aboard and help others do the same.

"People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel." ~ Maya Angelou

(By the way, this quote is hilarious to me because the limbic brain, the "feeling" brain, is what manages your long-term memory.)

Packman
Packman in reply to cjnolet

Another fine post...it seems like you almost have little need to overcome major negative effects of ADD...like myself and many others would do about anything to achieve. You said in part "mindfulness and gaining control over our thoughts is only a part of what I'm attempting to explain in my post. There's another dimension entirely, which is the ability of one to also influence the world around them through their thoughts. I'm not referring to black magic or a hidden latent "energy". I'm actually not referring to a spiritual force whatsoever. By literally controlling our thoughts, we are able to attract, repel, and bend our reality."

-I would respond that our thoughts can have significant influence on the stress and anxiety so many of us feel, but empirically measuring our own thoughts influence on others is a near-impossible task.

Your next comment refers to the oldest part of our brain (The "reptilian" brain - some refer to the "limbic system") which as you know is the source of basic hard-wired analyses and responses ("flight vs. flight" and other strong and immediate perceptions and reactions) - which exist because they have helped humans survive (evolution-wise). The pre-frontal cortex serves a much more complex and detailed function of sorting through and "analyzing" all the other brain activity that is ongoing - and in general is more rational in its cognitive analysis of human social life.

Anxiety comes from many sources and is manifested in multiple parts of the brain, what we'd all likely like to do is to minimize "noise, anxiety and confusion" over things we cannot control and again, spend a greater amount of our time in the "now".

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

cjnolet
cjnolet in reply to Packman

This conversation is getting fun and intellectual. Thank you for your response, once again! Also, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I do have a few responses for you as well.

> -I would respond that our thoughts can have significant influence on the stress and anxiety so many of us feel, but empirically measuring our own thoughts influence on others is a near-impossible task.

I believe I mostly addressed this with the following statement:

"we are better able to respond to our environment in thoughtful ways, thus sending an instant message to those around us that "we have it together", we're "able to be trusted", and we're "level-headed". These types of qualities, along with the proper meaning, are one of the reasons I believe good leaders attract. "

I do not quite agree with your statement that we are not able to measure our impact on others. I'll agree it's not a quantitative measurement, but in fact, we do it from the time we're children- we learn how people react to the way we're acting. Our thoughts guide the way we act. It's how we learn mannerisms, form friendships, and learn to lead/follow. We can never know what others are thinking, but we can (and do) judge the responses we receive from them, nonetheless.

> which as you know is the source of basic hard-wired analyses and responses

As I'm sure you are very familiar, anxiety is a natural human reaction to things that might put the body in harm and we need it in order to stay alive. Anxiety "disorders" are what we're talking about here. I'll spare you a rant, as you seem like a well-read individual. Instead, I'll post a quote from [1]:

"As LeDoux points out, the interaction between the limbic system and the cortex is a two-way street. Your limbic system informs your cortex, but your cortex can also control your limbic system. You can over-ride your limbic system’s tendency to let your emotions control your life, but it takes effort. You have to decide to be the one in charge of your emotions, or your emotions will take charge of you."

> The pre-frontal cortex serves a much more complex and detailed function of sorting through and "analyzing" all the other brain activity that is ongoing - and in general is more rational in its cognitive analysis of human social life.

The ratio that I spoke of in my response is exactly this. Unfortunately, even though the human brain is quite capable of reasoning, that reasoning is not always accurate and while we are being fed from "feelings" from our lower brain and not properly balancing them with the proper thoughts from our upper brains, we end up in an extreme. Either we're working directly off of "feeling", which I believe to be the result of our past, out-of-date attempts at reasoning, or we're spending too much time trying to "reason" and playing a "mental masturbation game" (as an old therapist of mine used to call it), reinforcing the feelings of anxiety already persistent in the mind. My point here was that much of either state is not good.

> "Anxiety comes from many sources and is manifested in multiple parts of the brain, what we'd all likely like to do is to minimize "noise, anxiety and confusion" over things we cannot control and again, spend a greater amount of our time in the "now"."

I would be curious to know your thoughts on any of the books from Dr. Dan Siegel. I'm also coming to the end of an absolutely wonderful book called "The Code of The Extraordinary Mind". This book, in fact, would allow my initial post, as well as my follow-up response to you, to be taken in a better, more descriptive, context. This particular book references many other very well-known authors and studies in the field as well (some of which I was surprised to have actually read!).

Thank you again for the engaging responses!

[1] psychologytoday.com/us/blog...

Packman
Packman in reply to cjnolet

Still more great stuff! I googled Dan Siegel and reviews of his book awareness and YouTube on "wheels of awareness" @ amazon.com/Aware-Practice-P...

&preST=_SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch

Point taken re your comment "I believe I mostly addressed this with the following statement ……"we are better able to respond to our environment in thoughtful ways, thus sending an instant message to those around us that "we have it together", we're "able to be trusted", and we're "level-headed". These types of qualities, along with the proper meaning, are one of the reasons I believe good leaders attract. "

I'll compose a better reply later and enjoy our conversation very much so far.

I feel like being positive is something we have to practice to be better at. Why is being negative so natural? I’m not saying being negative always I’m just saying in general. Why do you think that is?

cjnolet
cjnolet in reply to Lovinit

100%, I believe it needs practice. But that shouldn't be surprising- physical exercise needs practice too. From the mindfulness point of view, your mind is a muscle that you need to work out just like your arms or legs.

That's a great question about why it feels so natural to be negative. It's interesting to think that a lot of people around me- coworkers, family, friends, neighbors, etc... don't naturally gravitate towards negativity as I have in the past. I've been told that it's normal for people to trust until proven otherwise. I feel like historically I've always done the opposite. In the past, I've also been quick to assume people have generally bad intentions, always, until they demonstrate otherwise.

I've been called cynical and, to be honest, I used to get so caught up in details and emotions- for instance being hyper-sensitive to every word and body movement people would use when communicating, that I was quite miserable after communicating with people, most of the time. It took years for me to trust my wife and it's taken longer to trust that my kids make innocent mistakes and aren't just trying to be defiant. I've always blamed a lot of this on my treatment as a child, ADHD, and the way I was raised.

So to practice positive thinking, I've been learning to appreciate what I have, taking care of myself, learning to forgive past wrongdoings, and working harder at thinking through irrational negative thoughts to isolate where they came from. This last point is really allowing me to gain control over each negative thought so that I can make my own decision on what to do with them. When I notice a thought, I'll ask myself:

- Do I need to let it go any further?

- Is it improving my happiness and well-being?

- What would happen if I let it go?

- Is there an action I should take on it or is just a useless thought?

- Is it bringing some other emotions or memory from the past that I need to spend some time digging into during meditation?

How about you? Do you feel others around you are naturally negative?

Lovinit
Lovinit in reply to cjnolet

For the past 2 months, I’ve only interacted face to face with my two brothers, Chris and Anthony and his girlfriend Karley. Very positive interactions. Scale 1-10 we get a 10. Work- quit my dental assisting job because I was loosing my cool with the doctor and knew i was about to blow a gasket. I needed to be taught more on appropriate behavior in the work place. I have a very strong work ethic and I’m a hard worker and if my boss isn’t doing his job honestly or if he’s wasting mine his and the patients time dicking around i get pissed off.

Three weeks since my last day at the dental office. I’m now full time Uber / Lyft driving and I’m liking it so far. Ive had all positive interactions with my customers.

One thing i need help with and I’d like any advice you can offer. When I’m driving Uber /lyft for example and things just aren’t going smoothly at least that’s how i feel in my mind. Everything feels like a struggle, I’m not getting any rides and I begin to get agitated. I will loose almost all my patients in the car. FYI if I’m in this type of mood i will go offline not accepting customers anymore. What one to do in this situation.

cjnolet
cjnolet in reply to Lovinit

That's wonderful hearing that you maintain good relationships with you brothers! I don't have much for family around anymore but I am lucky to have been accepted into my wife's large family with open arms and I cherish them deeply. My half-sister was pretty abusive to me growing up. She had some deep emotional issues (I believe it was impulsivity and ADHD) that caused her to say and do some pretty heinous things to me when we were younger. Long story short, we no longer talk, even though she lives 4 doors down from my mom and I talk to my mom quite frequently.

My first job out of college was an interesting experience. I was hyperfocused & obsessed over it and I quickly rose to the higher rungs in the professional ladder- going from intern to software engineer to senior software engineer to leading a worldwide team of ten in 3 short years. Coworkers would call me things like "machine". (Seriously, if you look up Corey Nolet on Linkedin you can see what some of my former coworkers said about me). But this response isn't about my gloating of success. Mostly that's because with all those upsides, I had a pretty drastic downside- I was an emotional mess. When someone wasn't working fast enough, I'd take over. I'd get so caught up in solving things correctly that I'd get nasty with coworkers and subordinates. Not a good leadership style. I remember crying in the office on several occasions because the team wasn't seeing things my way and they began to form groups that outcasted me. I was being called a prima donna by other coworkers and I didn't know how to emotionally process stuff like that. I was impulsive and I would say what was on my mind.

Generally, it's good for a leader to be open and honest, but not having a filter is very different. To make matters worse, I would dish out some of the worst criticism to others and impulsive bad jokes that would sometimes offend them but my sensitivity wouldn't allow me to take the same treatment from others. If you read the biography on Steve Jobs, you will see a vast comparison here. While I'm not foolish enough to attempt to compare my small success early in my career with that of Steve Jobs, what I will say is that he was thought to have had ADHD and his emotional experience (both being described in his words and from those around him) demonstrate to me that this is a common trait.

But this doesn't (and didn't) need to define me, or us. I attribute some of this behavior to my childhood with combined-type ADHD. I might be hyperactive, but I'm ALSO inattentive. I remember being completely clueless to the world around me, most of the time, growing up. While other children were learning (and testing) social norms, I was lost in my own world, taking in the world around me, over-analyzing it, and processing it differently from most kids and adults around me. Did you ever feel like this? I feel like while other kids were learning how to communicate effectively with their peers, I was obsessing myself over other things that interested me. What I believe happens as a result is that I grew up with a hell of a potential for intellect but little social nuances seemed foreign (and it took me until I was in my late 20's to even be AWARE of many of those nuances!).

But being that my theory puts the lack of social awareness as lacking of a learned trait and not a chemical thing or some "inability of our minds to perceive reality", this means it can also be fixed! About 9 years ago, I read a book from Dr Dan Siegel where he explained the limbic vs cortex systems of the brain and how they develop from birth to adulthood. It was eye opening. We're not doomed to be social outcasts forever, we were just pre-occupied with what we felt were more important skills than the rest of the pack. To be honest, I'd choose our brain over any other anyday and any time. I don't believe there's ever been a time in my life when I've thought to myself "Man, my brain sucks."

Sure, I've had to learn coping skills, but every creature on this earth has had to do that. If every creature were exactly the same, who'd be sacrificed for the meals of others? How would there be any diversity in skills, housing, needs, and wants? Who would ever strive for anything? Food/water/shelter is a struggle for every species, is it not? (I'm referring to creatures as minute as ants and as large as elephants).

I was recently doing an interview with our fellow community member Lynnette & she had asked me a question with regards to our searching for career fields knowing we are ADHD. This question really got me thinking because, to be honest, my dad never believed (or wanted to admit) I was ADHD growing up and so I never was able to use a crutch that I was condemned to be this way. I was treated like any other kid that needed to learn independence and how to survive. It's amazing what our brains can do when never even get the chance to believe some things, right? I knew I always had a harder time on tests than the other students so I studied harder than them. I still do. I am enrolled in the disability center @ my college but I can't bring it upon myself to use it because that's not me. I'm the guy who survived without being treated differently.

Agitation can also be hard. I get agitated, totally. I mean- when I'm at work, I get agitated when my code isn't working, or an idea I had to learn something from a dataset didn't work the way I wanted, or when a coworker is doing something obnoxious. When I'm home I get agitated when my kids are talking a mile a minute and I'm trying to focus on cooking dinner. I get agitated w/ my wife similarly. You know, I also found out my 85y.o grandfather does the SAME THING. I'm not sure if he's ADHD but he certainly seems to have my hyperactivity, even at his age- he maintains several gardens around his house, is involved at his church, and extremely involved in the commerce and leadership in his community.

Either way- he gets agitated just like I do and I think it's anxiety- he gets flustered when he doesn't know how to deal with a situation and that sudden fear puts him in a place where he wants to remove himself from that feeling so he makes an impulsive decision to do so quickly, which can sometimes seem like a silly decision.

I'll do this as well- kids do something that gives me anxiety, I get agitated. My wife even noticed, before I did, that when I'd get anxiety/agitation, I'd start rubbing my hand on my leg. She's since started pointed it out so that I can try to isolate the behavior. Agitation comes from anxiety and I'd recommend that you try to connect with those feelings as much as you can and analyze them:

- What exactly are these feelings from?

- Are you getting worried about something in particular?

One thing that I do is I try to rationalize my irrational fears. In software algorithms analysis, we learn to always calculate the statistics of the worst case, best case, and average case. What's the worst-case that can really happen to you if your fears ARE actually rational? What's the best case? Now, what's the expected outcome in general? I believe a lot of overcoming the anxiety is going to be practicing the reinforcement of that expected outcome.

For instance, let's take the anxiety experienced by public speaking. I know that the worst case is that I look like a fool, nobody engages with me, and everybody leaves thinking I'm a fool. Best case is that everybody loves me, tells me how wonderful I did, and I feel like I really made an impact. The expected case, being that I'm not the most practiced at it yet is that I make a couple mistakes and cover them up well, people see how hard I tried, and they give me some good feedback. That's the reality- the irrational portion is that something horrible is going to happen. In this particular example, it's obviously easier when I'm well-practiced, so that's generally something they recommend doing.

Now let's take another example. I get home from work and I'm adjusting to the house and about to make dinner. Wife is a bad mood because the kids haven't been listening to the best to her and the baby has had a bad day. Agitation and anxiety begin- I'm trying to focus on something and the kids bombard me. Immediately I get angry and want to remove myself from the situation. Impulse sets in so I get nasty with the kids and tell them to give me time and send them away.

The hardest part, I believe, is finding the techniques to stay positive when that impulse sets in. I'm still not 100% at it but It's gotten much better. It's crazy- first the limbic feeling of "you are not comfortable here" sets in, then the pre-frontal feeling of trying to rationalize that gets overwhelmed, then an impulsive response is decided upon to make urself feel better and... the rest is history.

The next time you find yourself getting agitated like that, I'd recommend trying as hard as you can to remember to high-jack that feeling and take control of it. If you give yourself enough time, try to analyze that feeling. Think about some things that really make you happy- people, places, things, thoughts, ideas, dreams, aspirations, whatever they are. Ask yourself why this is making you feel the way it is? Is it a fear that you can quantify? Are you afraid of not paying the bills? Are you afraid of not getting a good rating from passengers? Are you afraid of them taking advantage of you? Perhaps you don't want damage done to your car? If you have the available time, try to write these thoughts down and see if you can even formulate them into a plan for communicating more effectively next time.

For instance, when you begin to get the impulse to be impatient with a passenger, sometimes just simply saying proper words in a kind tone can completely fix both the situation at hand AND your future anxiety towards it, rather than allowing ur overactive brain to continue reinforcing negative thoughts which will only cause more anxiety in the future. If you act differently than you have been, you will eventually reinforce those new pathways from the upper to the lower brain and that particular feeling of agitation will lessen or, better yet, go away altogether.

I'm not saying it's going to be easy, but I've managed to be able to do it with many fears I've had lately (for reference, read my post again about how I almost destroyed a vacation with my two boys from my anxiety and impulsivity). That story still makes me sad, but I think it was necessary for me to start learning how to fix things. I've come a long way even since then!

Hope this helps. I'm excited that you are also trying to get to the bottom of this and I'm really hopeful that you will share what you've learned as well!

Hi Corey,

In response to your last message. First of all I want you to know I read your message the same day you delivered it. You talked about some of your experiences you had growing up. Every story related to my own stories. I very much enjoyed that. It made me feel like even though we probably are nothing alike, we are so much a like in some ways. I never knew anyone who shared those same experiences, so I guess what Im thinking is its nice talk to someone who also went through what I went through. Next, You asked a few questions near the end and I spent a good while in my head replaying a scene in my life to, well actually i was messaging you back describing to you one of my uber driving experiences. As I wrote and reread your questions and commits it all unfolded inside my head. I was pretty blown away by how quickly my question was answered. Usually I’ll ask myself many questions all the time but never take any steps to solving the question. It’s not that I didn’t want to. I think I just didn’t know how to. And sadly that applies to other parts of my life. It frustrates me all the time because I think wow that was so easy why the hell couldn’t I have figured that out on my own. I don’t have many people who I can go to and talk about the things I’m struggling though. I’ve seen a therapist in 2007 for 6 mo and different one April of 2017 - July 2018. Both helped me though something but it was only one part of something. So I ask myself why. Why haven’t I found someone yet who is able to solve the entire picture? Or the whole enchilada? Maybe it just doesn’t work that way.

I’d like to know how you would feel about scheduling a 40-60 minute phone chat with me discussing a little about my life experiences, struggles, and goals? I would very much like to hear your thoughts and if possible maybe come up with an action plan. I’m asking you because I’ve never met anyone like you before. You seem very smart and I always thought your posts were interesting and some were very inspiring. If you decline, I will completely understand, but I feel like its worth a shot to ask.

Thank you for all the great chats and for all the ones to come!

Sincerely ,

Wendy Ribeau

cjnolet
cjnolet in reply to Lovinit

Wendy,

I do apologize for the delayed reply. Those are very kind words you choose to speak of me. Wow, it really does mean a lot to me that you have been able to relate and that my quest has been inspiring to you as well. To be honest, it's been very neat seeing you progress through your own journey, based on the posts and replies I've seen here. I can certainly help you think through some of these things if you think that would help you progress further.

My schedule is, however, very erratic. Thankfully my day job is extremely flexible but between school, my wife, kids, their sports & work, it has been one hell of a struggle even keeping up with my 40 hours a week at work.

I can work to pin down a time for a call if that's your preference, but I'm going to have trouble finding undivided time before October. I would not want to be distracted by other things during a call like this and so I'd want to guarantee I'd be both home and present.

In the meantime, if you would like to start the conversation through chat or email, I would respond intermittently, but more thoroughly, at least. I can message you my email if you are interested in doing that.

Again, I'm flattered by your kind words. Thank you!

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