Madeleine Eames

- Psychotherapist
- Mindfulness Teacher

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Why Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work…….




Mindfulness lets us see through the stories we are believing, know that they are stories, and know that there is another way…..


Dear Friends,


Has anyone ever told you to “just think positive”, or “only focus on the good” like the problem is that you just can’t see the good? Well, I am all for shifting perspective and seeing the abundance that surrounds us everyday simply because our brains are wired to look for threat ie. the negative. However, do we skip over feeling bad, ignore our pain and plug on in a tunnel of positive thinking and smiles?  If you’ve tried that, you will know that it can work temporarily but not necessarily in the long run. Alas, what we resist does tend to persist.

I have found that those people who reach a place of real peace and contentment in their lives have often gone through tremendous hardship and pain. And those who are most interested in exploring what makes us happy, have also figured out they must be equally interested in exploring the dark corners of our own personal messy mosh pits: 



However, there is a difference in attitude towards pain. Mindfulness helps us accept it, be with it and also take appropriate action if necessary. 

Many people who are suffering wonder “Will I ever bounce back?, “Will I ever be ok?”, and “Peace seems so far away.” 

I think about people like Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, the unshakable Edith Eva Eger (click to find out more) or Viktor Frankl who survived Nazi death camps, and many, many more for whom happiness, peace, health and security was out of their hands for years. But their attitude wasn’t. The difference was that they continued to see moments of beauty, kind guards, humanity, even in the worst possible conditions. More importantly, they took their past experiences and like a slingshot, didn’t waste a minute in catapaulting it into goodness when they were able to.


To see the goodness we need to see what’s not good.

To feel peace, we need to feel what it’s like to not feel peace.

To experience a whole human life, we need to experience the whole spectrum. If we’re only playing the middle keys of the piano, our song is limited.

Do I encourage pain and suffering? Hell, no. 

But if that has been part of your experience, it’s ok. 

It’s never too late.


Sometimes those who have experienced the depths of trauma and despair are the ones to come back faster, with an intensity that propels them into the heights of joy, beauty, and forgiveness of the human experience. This is emotional agility, a key factor in navigating a good life.

Don’t resist the bad parts. Just remember they are only parts of a whole. Hang in there.

Don’t despair. Time is not a factor. 

Nelson Mandela changed the world at 78.

Seek help, reach out, or simply find some compassion for yourself.  

Here is a great practice on self-compassion from Tara Brach that might help:

Change your world today. Accept all that is, the good, the bad and the ugly.

It’s not your job to change the past. It’s your job to accept the present to affect the future.

To a life complete with ups and downs,




” You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” Buddha




4 thoughts on “Why Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work…….”

  1. Thanks..always had trouble with the just smiling, everything is great response…it hasn’t felt authentic…loved the Buddha quote..need that reminder


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