Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Differentiate between wishful and positive thinking

Someone has raised an interesting comment on the article above by Lee Kum Tatt.

Here is Dr. Lee’s interesting reply on his concept on how to differentiate wishful thinking from positive thinking.

Tan Kin Lian


Ray Said

I have (heard) much about the “magic” of positive thinking. But there is also much material on how positive thinking can lead to wishful thinking.

How do we know where to draw the line between “positive” and wishful?


My reply:

The line between positive and wishful thinking is a matter of the mind and the stage of development of the thought. For me it is affected by the following factors: My character, my values and my sense of responsibility. Together these three factors provide the driving forces that make me do most of the things I do or did. If these forces harmonize it will make things easier for me. If these forces clash I will have doubts about proceeding until I sort out my priorities. I need “positive” thinking to proceed beyond this point. If I do not believe in myself I cannot expect others to believe in me.

Important Basics

I must know my character. My science education has taught me to enjoy doing new things, open new frontiers, getting new knowledge through research, and developing new schemes, processes or products. I am easily bored by doing routine. It’s worth my effort doing something new and getting the fun from doing it.

My values are what my parents and my culture gave to me and expect of me. It pays to help others and to improve things for them. This has been my upbringing. I want to make my parents happy always and people to appreciate what I do. This is my reward.

My responsibility is to my family, to my profession & career and to my society and country. My career requires me to initiate new activities and open new frontiers from time to time. I need initiatives to fulfill these responsibilities. Keeping the right balance has been my challenge. I did many things which I was not officially expected to do.

My Concept of the Thought Development Process

For me thoughts develop through stages. These include : 1. Fantasizing, 2. Analyzing, 3. Organizing and 4. Realizing.

Stage 1 and 2 are essentially mental. Some of the initial fantasies can be rejected outright.

After analysis ( Stage 2) some fantasies can be made into wishful thinking, dreams to be pursued or fulfilled or even desirable goals to be achieved. At this stage I can visualize more clearly what I want and how I should go about to get it done.

Stages 3 and 4 involve physical action in Organizing & Planning, Implementation & Monitoring. What are the resources and people we can count on and How to make them work to produce the results we want. This requires work and sweat.

Finally positive thinking is required to see the process through with faith and trust in myself and those I have to work with. Without positive thinking and determination there is a tendency to give up as soon as there is a hitch.

The mind, which is our life force, will do the rest just like the force that keeps our heart pumping, lungs breathing and metabolism going without our ability to control it. The important thing is to keep this life force, the mind, active by keeping myself healthy.

Wishful thinking is plunging into action without giving too much thought to stages 2, 3, and 4. How much we can do will depend on how we make our character, values and responsibilities guide us. If we misjudge our own capabilities it can be disastrous.

Lee Kum Tatt
2 May 2007

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