Psychology of Performance 45: Positive Mind States

I have been reading John Perkins’ book, Psychonavigation (1990). He has a chapter entitled, “Posiguides,” that was a precursor to many of the psychology of performance concepts and the positive psychology movement. This blog summarizes the four main concepts in the chapter (p. 107-112).

“Posiguide One: No matter what your situation, several times each day stop and think about the good aspects, the enjoyable and self-expanding ones, of what you are doing.”

“Posiguide Two: Use visualization in a positive way; be aware throughout the day of the many times you visualize and take control of these; expunge your negative visions mercilessly and concentrate on positive ones.”

“Posiguide Three: Attune yourself to nature, and understand what nature demonstrates so clearly – there is no such thing as failure.”

“Posiguide Four: You have the ability to act and take control. As long as you realize this, how can you be anything but positive?”

Some of the key elements of these guides for positive thinking are based in the mindfulness research and positive psychology movement. For example, in Posiguide One, this is a different version of “where your mind goes, the energy goes.” It has implications for goal setting, positive mental states, and elevated energy in performance.

Posiguide Two is a mindfulness comment that increases awareness of patterns and is consistent with cognitive behavioral techniques related to refuting irrational and negative self-statements and mental images.

Posiguide Three directly challenges our cultural assumptions (shared beliefs about how things should be or be done) about success and failure. Perkins stated that nature does not have failure as a concept. In nature there are cycles of life – energy moving from one form to another. It is only our cultural assumptions that introduce the concepts of success and failure with the corresponding stressors and unanticipated consequences.

Posiguide Four is a reminder of Seligman’s original research on learned helplessness and not getting caught up in it. It is a reframe of circumstances and focusing on what you can control versus what you cannot. Victor Frankl’s work on the Holocaust camps also addressed this aspect of resilience and how we can survive horrible circumstances through redirecting our thinking.

In summary, positive thinking, visualization, refuting our irrational beliefs and assumptions, and empowering ourselves can add substantially to our performance, our quality of life, and our health. Something for us all to be mindful of and practice as much as we can.

Extend loving kindness and compassion to all you meet today!

Bob

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., CEO

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