Category Archives: Positive Thinking

Happy and don’t know it? Clap your hands!

After talking to people over the years, I’ve heard people say they feel like they’ll never be happy. That begs the question, “What is your definition of happy?” Most people don’t know how to answer this question. Over the years, part of my job was to develop person centered plans. In these plans you discuss people’s short term and long term goals. Most of the time people say, “I want to be happy.”

If you’re always searching for “happy” how will you know when you get there if you don’t know you’re definition?

Exercise #1

I believe it’s very beneficial to find happiness daily. Have you ever gone to buy a car? You look around and find something you like. You think it’s great and there aren’t very many of them around in your city. When you get it and start driving it, you see them every where you look. Happiness can be like this as well. Your subconscious looks for what we train it to look for. Another way to say this is that you see what you want to see.

So if you see what you want to see, then decide what you want to see. Didn’t see that coming did you? J I suggest writing down little things that make you happy. Thinking on paper is a great habit to get into. So, what makes you happy? A baby smiling? A funny movie? A certain movie genre? Music? Playing an instrument? A sunset? A sunrise? That new car smell? Thai food? Spending time with friends and/or family? Your children? When your children leave for a while? If you’re always looking for things to make you smile instead of things to tick you off, you’ll notice a difference. Don’t get me wrong there are always things that will come up that make you unhappy as well…but overall do your best to look for the good.

Exercise #2

Next I would recommend thinking about what you’d like your life to look like when you are “happy.” When you reach this ideal, what does it look like? Do you live on your own private island with a few million dollars in the bank? Do you live in the country? How much money do you make? One exercise I’ve done is written down your ideal day. What will you do on your ideal day? What time will you get up? Will you be alone? If not, who will you be with? Then you just roll through your day.

This sounds like an odd thing to do, but it really helps you get a clear picture in your mind. If you have a picture of what you’re aiming towards, your subconscious can be working towards it. Of course, you have to take action to get to that spot. It’s your subconscious, not a magic wand. Take action! Do something daily to move you towards your definition of happiness!

So I made it through this whole post without quoting that Bobby McFerrin song. Bonus points for me.

NINJA Tour reminds me of positive thinking

Last night (6/12/09) I went to the NINJA tour with some friends. For those that aren’t familiar with that, it’s Nine Inch Nails and Jane’s Addiction. It was a great show! Oddly enough, it was my first time seeing NIN. It seems “Head like a hole” was one of the first songs I heard by them back in school. I was in a band in college (back when my hair was down to my waist) that played the song “Wish” by NIN.

So what in the world does this have to do with personal development? Well, that’s a good question. Since it is music I started listening to a long time ago, it made me ponder some things from a long time ago. It also helped me realize how far I’ve come. It seems I focused more on negative thoughts and views back then. It wasn’t on purpose, just a combination of young angst, depression, etc… Of course even today I’ll get hit by a long series of events (which is a sign of growth, single events used to bring me down for days) that will bring me down. However, I can get out of that state much quicker with coping skills learned over the years. It seems that everyone has negative thoughts and that is normal but identifying and changing your negative beliefs can help reduce the number of negative thoughts as well as viewing the world as a place of scarcity.

An example of one of these beliefs is thinking of business people as people that are using poor people to make them money and not thinking about them. Am I saying that all business people are ethical humanitarians? No, of course not, BUT not all of them are like that by a long shot. This theme is heard in lyrics, seen on television, and on movies. The big bad business man…out to rule the world. Well after I graduate college, I became very interested in business and started reading and listening to information on business and business owners. As an art major through college, I noticed that there were many artists that remained very poor their entire lives but there were a few that made a good living, such as Monet (which oddly enough sounds like saying money with a French accent). So I started reading articles on Monet to see what made him different than say, Van Gogh.

If you’ve studied Internet Marketing, you’ve heard about launches. Jeff Walker is known for Product Launch Formula and Monet did something very similar (minus the use of the internet of course). He would get let a lot of wealthy art buyers know that he was working on a series of paintings and would have an event at his house where he showed the work and sold it. He already had a name for himself then though.

Well, back to what I was talking about. I studied business owners and found out interesting things. A lot of libraries in this country were built with help of Andrew Carnegie. A more recent fact is that the computers in the library in my own small town were donated by Bill Gates. The more I read, the more I learned about good things business people did for the world.

Many people would state that this is only looking at one side of the coin. Before people leave me negative comments, I realize that a lot of pollution, etc… has come from business as well. So what’s the difference? One is looking at the positive side of things, and the other is viewing the negatives. Buddha said, “What we think, we become.” Think about that, if you only think about negative things certain businesses are doing, then that’s what’s on your mind. It also brings up an exercise I’ve heard and since used as an example. Look around in the room your in right now. Look for all the red things in the room (if you don’t see anything red then look for all the blue things in the room). Here’s where the example doesn’t work in print. The next step you close your eyes (see what I mean…how do you read the next sentence…or this one for that matterJ). Name 3 green items in the room. It’s an example to show that you find what you’re looking for. Another example I use is “Where’s Waldo.” Do you find the guy that’s in the plain blue shirt in another part of the drawing? No you find Waldo. If you’re looking for all the bad stuff in life, then that’s what you’ll find.

Please understand I’m not saying ignore all the bad things and life and pretend that they’re not there. That is not helping the world either. If you are just sitting around doing nothing but being concerned about your own well being and complaining about “the man” holding you down then what are you doing about it? In college being a musician I was exposed to many people and one thing that used to get on my nerves was people sitting around doing drugs complaining about stuff. What did that accomplish? What are you doing to add value in the world? What did you do today or this week to make the lives of other better? What did you do to help the world? Last night at the concert, we were leaving and my friend was on crutches behind me so I turned around and stated, “Watch out for this mud puddle” then pointed at it. Then I hear a splash. One lady right behind us falls right into it. Her stoned friend just semi-looked at her and was going on and on about the leaves or something. Ok I won’t talk anymore about that because that could turn into about a 50 page rant for me.

So to wrap up, the concert was great! When you’re viewing the world, don’t forget to look at the positive side. Yes, I make jokes about “the man,” you know “whitey” but it’s just to pick around. I no longer sit around thinking only about all the bad things business people are doing to the world. Realize that some people do good things, some people do bad things. Be one of the people that do good things!

Is fear controlling your life?

“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” ~ Marie Curie


Yesterday I heard someone say, “They would never go on a cruise, because people get missing when they go on cruises.” This is the great example of fear keeping people from living!


Okay, let’s look at the facts. According to this article one million people cruised on US-based cruise ships per month. The article goes on to state that most people that go missing are “not victims of crime but a depression and sadness.” This article mentions missing persons on cruises. They stated that around 20 people have been reporting missing from cruises in the history of cruises. As of the time of this article, none had been reported in the last two years. So let’s do the math, if it’s been two years since one person went missing, at 12 million people per year, that’s one and 24 million people. To put that into perspective, around 90 people per year get struck by lightning. So you can stop going outside? According to Personal MD, there are about 3000 people that choke to death on food every year. Are you going to stop eating?


This is just a way to step back and review how unfounded some of our fears are. We stop ourselves from doing things and living life because of things we hear others say.

Next time you catch yourself saying something that is fear-based, stop and do the math and see if it’s reality, or only fear.

Changing Negative Thoughts to Positive Thoughts

How to stop “Can’t” from holding you back.


“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing…, you’re right.
Henry Ford


Most people have heard Henry Ford’s quote. But have you internalized it? “Can’t” limits your thinking. It puts up a wall. It stops your brain from progressing. You could call it being mentally lazy. When you use “can’t” in a sentence, it allows you to give up, to quit, and to hold up the white flag of surrender! “I can’t be successful.” “I can’t cook.” “I can’t fly across the country by flapping my ears.” Ok, the last one is a little tricky, but you get the point. Making negative statements like this create your future by repressing your possibilities.


Listen to the voice in your head 


We all have that voice in our head that speaks to us. Some call it our inner voice. It moves quickly and will start negative thoughts out of nowhere. A lot of this can be traced back to negative core beliefs.  If you become aware of every time you use “can’t” then it causes you to think about what you are saying and how that can be negative. You have to learn to listen for little negative words like and train your mind to change them.  When you catch these negatives your must Reframe them. 




Reframing is a great way to get your brain working for you instead of against you. When you say “can’t” either in your mind or aloud, what you are really saying to yourself is either a) I won’t or b) I don’t know how! Reframe “I can’t with a “how can I” or “how will I” or another phrase that will cause you to think positive and not give up. It takes time. I’ve worked on this for quite a while and have found the one “can’t” that keeps on slipping in is “I can’t afford that.” This is not always true and a lot of times just a reflex.  The more factual statement is“I choose not to afford it at this time” or “I really don’t want it, don’t need it, etc.” In my case, I’m working on the bigger picture and don’t need the item. (Wants and Needs will be discussed in another article). 


Ask “Why?” 


Why can’t you? Ask yourself this when that word creeps into your brain or jumps out of your mouth without notice. I told myself that I couldn’t dance until about 2005. Looking back I have no idea why, but I would always say, “I can’t dance” when asked. In about 2005 (sad it took me so long), I thought, “Why can’t I dance?” It was either I don’t want to OR don’t know how to. In this case it was I didn’t know how.


Examine the Facts


Let’s use the dance example. I  analyzed myself to figure out “why” I couldn’t dance.  This was done by asking myself, “What attributes are needed to dance?” Being a musician  I realized I have rhythm. Clumsiness has never been an issue. Improvising musically over the years taught me to listen to all the parts of music and play with what I choose. The fact that I hadn’t taken any dance lessons since I was young seemed to be what made me think I could not dance….DUH!  The answer wasn’t that I can’t dance, I just didn’t know how…yet! It was a comfort and knowledge issue not lack of ability. Now the question was, “How?


Just Do it!


It seems like I’ve heard that somewhere before, but it truly is as simple as that…..’Just do it’!


A friend  told me that there was an Argentine Tango class that met on at a bar in a near by city. So I said, ‘Lets Just Do It! I went, picked up the steps fairly quickly (Argentine Tango is a challenging dance) and had a blast. It was so much fun I went to classes regularly and  asked for feedback. I learned what I needed to do to improve my skills. It was great and I met a lot of interesting people so continued to go attend and practiced with a friend   Bottom Line is now “I love Argentine Tango.” That’s a far cry from “I can’t dance which had been programmed in my subconcious until I eliminated can’t from my vocabulary.  


Open Your Mind


Find something you “can’t” do and decide ….is it I don’t WANT to OR I don’t know HOW to?” If you keep asking “why,” eventually you’ll get to the core issue. In mental health I use this lot. You can always make a list. I recommend thinking on paper. Get out as much as you can. It’s a great release and you’ll surprise yourself. If people can’t” do something either they don’t WANT to (ask yourself WHY) or they don’t know HOW to, then ask how do I overcome that challenge. Best of luck to you!



About the author:

Geo Swanko is part of Mutantville Productions ( an independent filmmaking company specializing in horror. Geo has started posting articles related to filmmaking, self improvement, Argentine Tango, music, marketing, etc… on his blog at