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Jellie's avatar

Do you believe if you have a positive and optimistic outlook, good things will happen to you?

Asked by Jellie (6489points) September 4th, 2011

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and I’ve been really down lately about a lot of things. So she told me to just be happy and hope for the best and good things will happen. She said negative energy attracts negative things in life.

Do you guys believe in this?

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68 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

Yes….positive attitude is everything to being happy! At an early age my mom taught me to answer “great!” no matter what when people asked you how you are doing. More often than not thinking you are doing great will help override even the funkiest of funks.

john65pennington's avatar

This is a big 10–4. A positive outlook is like a magnet and attracts the best in life. This has happened to me so many times.

And, don’t forget that prayer changes things.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

In general, yes- maybe 60/40. The more important bit is to be reasonable, pay attention, don’t project your positivity onto losing propositions?

The best investment I’ve learned? Listen to your gut and be happy and positive about it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think that whole notion implied in those The Secret books and other self-help bs books is only for the privileged of the society, those who can afford to think about positivity or negativity or energy or whatever. People who are out there trying to make ends meet are a lot more concerned about reality-based concepts like needing to work (regardless of how you feel about it). In a way, this ridiculous notion of ‘think positively and things will happen’ is a delusion, to give everyone a shot at success and to turn a blind eye to structural barriers, to turn everything onto the individual aka ‘you can’t get a job ‘cause you’re so negative, if only you changed xyz about your outlook, you’ll get it’ instead of dealing with what’s actually going on.

Blackberry's avatar

Sometimes, yeah.

CaptainHarley's avatar

A positive and optomistic attitude will definitely help, since it tends to draw people to you, as opposed to pushing them away. It also promotes good health. It’s just as easy to decide to be happy, regardless of circumstances, as it is to be sad.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I agree with everything @Simone_De_Beauvoir just wrote.

I’m a child of a generation that was prepped by parents who went with a rose colored glasses outlook and the truth has been very nitty gritty, very awakening.

XD's avatar

I think the (subtle) difference between it making a difference and not lies in the “outlook” of the subconscious and one’s ability to tap into it. The subconscious is why seemingly good circumstances get sabotaged and why other “good” or “bad” things happen.

ucme's avatar

I’ve always had a sunny disposition & believe an optimistic approach to life is the only way. Obviously it’s not going to stop bad shit from happening, but positivity makes it easier to bat that crap away. Ya can’t keep me down sucka, coz I bounce right back up!

CaptainHarley's avatar

There’s a vast difference between seeing the world with “rose-colored glasses” and deciding to be happy. It’s very possible to see things as they really are and still be happy.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, there is much truth in this.

Everything operates on an energy frequency and we can and DO attract either positive or negative effects.

This dosn’t mean we will never experience unhappiness or hardship, but, if you are a walking grievance looking for a cause, you WILL find it, or, it will find you. lol

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Coloma How can we be sure about any of this when there is no empirical evidence as to whether this ‘like attracts like’ phenomenon works (outside of actual physical bonds and science)?

philosopher's avatar

Staying focused and positive defiantly helps. You also need to do the hard work to accomplish the goal. Being positive does not mean being unrealistic. I would not survive if I was negative.
My husband has a cynical nature and I refuse to give in.

Rarebear's avatar

No. That’s the bullshit behind the scam The Secret.

Jellie's avatar

What in the world is The Secret????

gondwanalon's avatar

If you are constantly thinking about how bad things are then you are likely going to get more of the same.

If you frequently say negative statements such as: “It is going to be one of those days.” or “I feel a cold coming on.” Then guess what you are going to get.

“What you think about comes about.”
“As you think, so shall you be.”
– Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

marinelife's avatar

I think that what comes in life is pretty much random. But I am a great believer in what Victor Frankl, psychoanalyst and concentration camp survivor said, which is that we can’t control what happens in our lives, but we can control how we react to it.

That means that with an optimistic and positive attitude you are better prepared to face life’s vicissitudes.

Rarebear's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Right. I should have linked to it, thanks. The Secret was promoted by the bastion of critical thinking Oprah, and probably resulted in the death of Kim Tinkham who died of breast cancer because she decided to use “positive thinking” to treat her cancer instead of chemotherapy.

mazingerz88's avatar

In my case, not believe but hope.

filmfann's avatar

I think people who are positive recognize the many blessings we have in our lives.
Negative people don’t see anything good.

Coloma's avatar


Be your own experiment.

See what results you get when you either A. Honk and glare and flip off a stranger out of your own foul mood, or B. Smile and wave.

If you act and react negatively you will get negativity back, if you send out happy vibes, you will get the same back, or, at the very least a neutral and benign reaction.

Try it, collect your own empirical data. lol

Do your kids cooperate better when you scream at them or offer a positive reward? ;-)

Coloma's avatar


Perhaps. On the other hand it has been shown that positive thinking and visualization practices do help with healing, as well as prayer.

There are no right/wrong dichotomies when it comes to how one chooses to confront an illness.

Personally I have already decided that if faced with an incurable illness where my odds are less than 50/50, I’ll choose a natural death without hardcore intervention.

I’d rather have 6 relatively happy and healthy months than 5 years of suffering to end up dead anyway.

I happen to think that we should all be more accepting of death, after all, it is inevitable, regardless.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Coloma I feel what I feel, I want to pretend I feel something else and be fake, instead. I teach my kids the same. Some people aren’t worth my anger but many situations justify it. It’s never stopped me from success and happiness to be honest about my own emotions. I think I take a different look on success.

Coloma's avatar


Sure, being emotionally honest is one thing, but projecting our bad moods onto others and having unresolved anger issues that squeeze out on others are quite another.

It’s the old ” you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” ;-)

Rarebear's avatar

@Coloma “On the other hand it has been shown that positive thinking and visualization practices do help with healing, as well as prayer.”

No, it hasn’t. In fact it showed definitively that prayer did not work.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Coloma Yeah, but what does having unresolved anger issues have to do with what you attract? If you’re unreasonably angry at people, surely they won’t wont to help you along but just because you’re thinking about butterflies or rainbows doesn’t mean you’ll get a job or a marriage anytime soon. As to the catching more flies with honey, that’s disingenuous if all you’re doing that for is to get more flies rather than because you like the flies.

Coloma's avatar


Well…the power of thought and mind is powerful, whatever brings peace and comfort to another has benefit, regardless of source. Healing happens best when one is not in resistance, just like one will experience less pain if they are in a meditative state.


Because, an angry person is much more likely to CREATE conflict in many instances, even if it is on a subconscious level.

I used the ‘flies’ reference to mean, that a positive attitude sends a message of cooperation, meaning others are more likely to want to cooperate if you give ‘em a little sugar.

As I mentioned, keeping a good attitude doesn’t mean one will never experience any unhappiness but, it helps.

Being angry, negative and discordant is unhealthy for our minds and bodies.

Angry people have elevated blood pressure, are more prone to heart attacks and strokes, they are more accident prone and have more conflictive relationships in general.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Coloma Actually, lately, I’ve been reading a lot about how those who aren’t batshit happy all the time live longer, are smarter when making decisions and overall deal better with life.

Rarebear's avatar

Whatever. We’re obviously not going to see eye to eye on this, we never have.

The point is, @Jellie, that if you are convinced of the “power of positive thinking” that Oprah, Coloma, and the author of the Secret would like you to believe, then by extension if you have negative things happen to you, it’s supposedly your FAULT because you didn’t think positively enough. That kind of thinking is just wrong in so many ways.

YARNLADY's avatar

I can’t believe it – I actually agree with @CaptainHarley 100%.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I do not believe that it is necessary to wallow in misery in order to live longer or overall deal better with life. However, I have had some profound sadness in my life, which I managed to live through, with a lot of help from my family.

I have made a pledge to myself to be happy every day for the rest of my life. I don’t see any indications that my decision has hurt me in any way.

Coloma's avatar


I agree. I don’t believe that we are responsible for every negative ( or, perceived negative ) that befalls us, I am very much a middle of the road type, but, I do believe in the mantra of ” pain happens, suffering is optional.” The thoughts we keep do have a positive or negative effect on our well being.

Many, many, studies advocate removing ‘toxic’ people from your life and some say that the stress of being involved with toxic personalities is the worst kind of illness producing stress.

You must agree that stress IS responsible for much illness and therefore we should be doing all we can to reduce external negative influences whether they are in the form of habitually negative people, places or things.


Nobody can maintain a state of batshit happy, that would be called denial, however, the best recipe for misery is to live in a chronic state of negativity, self pity and victimhood.

Most that do suffer from some serious mental health issues and that’s a fact.

rebbel's avatar

I rarely do this, but tonight i am: I didn’t read the whole thread. Sue me.
Being positive and having an optimistic outlook won’t, in my opinion, magically bring you good fortune, or at least not more than others.
It possibly helps create a bigger social life, with possible more like minded persons in it, which will possibly make for more ideas and a bigger network of, again, more of these people.
And everything that comes on your path that has a positive ringing to it will be experienced by you as a logic turn out of your stance in life…, you will appreciate/value it (maybe) more than someone who hasn’t a positive outlook.
In short: a negative (or a neutral) person will see a flower, and a positive person will see a flower, smell its scent, adores its colors and loves the Nature that made it.

philosopher's avatar

Exactly this is how I survive.
A good attitude allows you to perceive the good possibilities. Envisioning a good outcome puts the potential in motion. When you can only image bad results your actions perpetuate bad results.
If you work out and keep saying this won’t work you will never get the results someone that knows it will does. You need to visualize the results you want.
When My autistic son could not talk the incompetent Traditional Speech Therapist said he never would. I found ABA people who taught him to speak. I knew that he was, is very intelligent despite his disability. I keep working hard for the best outcome possible.
The more the negative people hate me the better. LOL. I am not affected by them anymore. I am too busy working on what matters.

stardust's avatar

Absolutely. I believe like attracts like. When bad things happen to us, or what we perceive to be bad things, having a positive, optimistic outlook allows us to see the lesson/area for growth that arises from those situations.
It’s hard to be positive all of the time, but I try to remind myself that my mind is a garden and I’m the gardener so to speak.

Coloma's avatar


Well said.

We are what we think as much as we are what we eat. ;-)

‘Feed’ on negativity and you will be dark and brooding and gain a reputation of sour grapes.
‘Feed’ on donuts night and day and your body and heart will get back at you 3 fold.
As in 3 folds of fat when you bend over and 3 folds of plaque in your arteries. lol

Chronic negativity hardens the heart in more ways than one. :-)

philosopher's avatar

I appreciate your common sense.

augustlan's avatar

I think it’s absolute bullshit that optimistic people have any more ‘good things’ happen to them than pessimistic people, but the optimistic ones will notice and appreciate them more readily.

philosopher's avatar

The problem is that some people can only perceive a negative outcome.
I have overcome much by hard work and a positive attitude.
People that think negatively tend to give up too easily.
You can succeed if your willing to work hard. Most worthwhile things require that people work hard to achieve them.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

In the vein of what @augustlan wrote, I’ve seen it true more often than not the optimistic notice what is already true and/or real and appreciate what positives they have all the more.

Beware though, most people are attracted to positive and optimistic other people and this means bad people too. Don’t believe because you don’t mean or do harm that it won’t see you, won’t come looking for you.

Be discerning of others, hold them to the standards that are important to you. Value friends over acquaintances. Don’t beat too many dead horses. yadda yadda.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Coloma @YARNLADY I think our conversation (I am too guilty of this) devolved into hyperbolic statements, a tendency not found in lukewarm-like people into The Secret. It’s not like any of us are batshit crazy or miserable all the time but life is about more than how you feel about something. You can be positive all you want but if you live in a racist town and you’re black, you’re not going to end up being its sheriff.

Coloma's avatar

Agreed, all the positive thought in the world does not mean you can charm a rattlesnake into letting you kiss it on it’s little viper head. lol

philosopher's avatar

Most people will be more incline to assist and like more positive people.
How can anyone accomplish difficult things if they are negative?
Being successful in a difficult College Class requires hard work and so does learning a new job. No matter what training you had in school. They are all affected by attitude.

downtide's avatar

Yes, to some degree. An optimistic person will grasp an opportunity, thinking it’s worth working for. A pessimist will think it’s a waste of time and give up.
But you can’t change the basic facts; bad things happen and they’re distributed randomly, not fairly or equally. Some people really do have worse luck than others but the optimists will cope with it better.

linguaphile's avatar

The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n. from “Paradise Lost” by Milton

I do believe strongly that we create our own realities and that from the ugliest situation, a positive person will find something beneficial, and from the most perfect situation, a negative person will find something ugly. A positive person will remember all the fun things about her wedding, a negative person will remember all the mistakes. We positively or negatively interpret our experiences—then that becomes part of how we remember and pass on memories or actions. I don’t think any of us are 100% positive or negative, really.

Our outlook, unfortunately, doesn’t control the crap that befalls us—some of the most wonderful people I know have the worst crap crapped on them, and I know some seriously sour, unpleasant people who have it relatively easy. The crap isn’t evenly distributed- but how we react to it, how we interpret it or whether we find redeeming value from bad experiences or not, is wholly up to us.

That being said, The Secret and the ministry of Joel Osteen (same concept) is hokey horse-poo-poo. The reward of a positive outlook is inherent, not reflected in godly rewards. Sheesh.

Hibernate's avatar

No I don’t believe in it. Because if it was to be true than I wouldn’t have to suffer this much.

CaptainHarley's avatar


[ faints ] **THUD**

CWOTUS's avatar

I believe that no matter what kind of outlook you have, we’re all going to die in the end.

But it’s not the end yet! So I’m enjoying the ride up to that point. And who knows? With over seven billion people on the planet, maybe I have only a 1:7,000,000,000 chance of being the one who lives forever. It’s not “no chance at all”, so I’m still optimistic.

Rarebear's avatar

Sorry, I didn’t mean to derail the question by going off on The Secret—that was my bad. It’s just that my panties go up in a bunch when I start hearing people saying, always look on the bright side of life. . I didn’t mean to start an argument.

tranquilsea's avatar

I think that beliefs like this one can be dangerous. So the people who have bad things happen kind of deserved it because their attitudes must have been negative? It smacks too close to the manifest destiny crowd. I have a manifest destiny believer nephew who tried like mad to “positively” think about a million dollars dropping into his life. Problem is he didn’t actually try to work for it.

I think there is some correlation between a generally pleasant attitude and having other pleasant people in your life and that might open some doors if you are smart enough. Too many maybes there to attribute it solely to a positive attitude.

Aethelwine's avatar

Being miserable will get you nowhere. My husband and I have had enough terrible shit happen to us the past two months that many couples would end up arguing and miserable if it happened to them. We didn’t let it get us down. We did have moments here and there, but our overall attitude was positive. I’m not saying happiness will bring you good things, but you are the only person responsible for your own happiness.

My favorite new quote: Attitudes are contagious. Are yours worth catching?

I wish I could remember the source, but I don’t. The message is worth remembering. That’s all that matters.

Jellie's avatar

Yea I’m a believer of positivity breeds positivity. But not in a cosmic, the-universe-is-at-work kind of way. I believe that the happier you are, the more worthwhile you will make your life and just enjoy it more. I know it doesn’t bring good things your way as a direct result but it makes people enjoy your company and want to be around you.

So smile jellies. Try to be happy today. Hope you all have a good day (today or tomorrow).

Mariah's avatar

In one sense, sure. If you’re just looking for all the negativity in a situation, you’re liable to find it.

But I don’t think optimisim or pessimism has any “power” beyond that. That implies that victims of bad situations are to blame for not being positive enough or something, which I think is ridiculous and quite frankly kind of offensive. Don’t tell the cancer patient that things would’ve turned out okay if they’d just been more positive.

linguaphile's avatar

The concept of The Secret, et. al. is not new. Our Puritan forefathers brought that exact thinking with them first. They believed the families that were most endowed were the ones favored by God, as in “if we are good/holy enough, we get: material rewards/health/power, which all show God’s favor.” What they’re selling these days isn’t far off… instead of using God, they’re saying ‘power of positive thinking,’ If you believe in positivity hard enough, you’ll be rewarded. Same concept, different words.

What I abhor about that concept is that it breeds judgment and intolerance for others (if you had believed hard enough, you wouldn’t be dying of cancer/losing your house/etc) and they do it with a fake, happy smile and very misguided concern.

A little cynicism here but… we saw what happened to the Puritans and what some of them felt so justified in doing to their Salem friends.

tranquilsea's avatar

@linguaphile While I was attending church I heard a lady say, “she didn’t pray enough” in response to another church member who had just heard that she had cancer.

I wanted to slap her. What an ignorant/cruel comment.

CaptainHarley's avatar

That was indeed ignorant. God makes his rain to fall upon both the just and the unjust.

philosopher's avatar

People can be cruel for reasons that escape most of us.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I suspect a lot of it is unintentional, but that doesn’t soften the blow. : (

smilingheart1's avatar

Absolutely! Our good energy is like a beacon that attracts. There are certain people you are to meet in your lifetime, certain key events are to take place in your lifetime. We are always compelling good energy if we let our light shine and we are repelling if we choose to be sour. It takes a lot of faith in goodness to keep on the sunny side and there are days that this is much more difficult than others and we may have to draw back and reload hope sometimes. But over the course of your lifetime, you will be amazed at what good things come your way as you keep optimistic.

linguaphile's avatar

@tranquilsea Ugh… I hope the lady with cancer didn’t overhear that :( I’m obsessed with something that Pied Pfeffer introduced me to- Strengths Psychology created by Donald Clifton. It’s positive-outlook based without having that reward angle.

tranquilsea's avatar

I have a good outlook because I think there is enough crappy stuff in this world without me adding to it. I expect nothing in return though.

cockswain's avatar

I think being a happy, positive person will increase your likelihood of having a larger network of friends, which could in turn create more opportunities for you than someone less liked. I don’t think that if I’m content that I’ll get a free car or something. Or if I’m a dick my refrigerator will break when I’m on vacation.

CWOTUS's avatar

Well, you’re still going to die, but maybe you can die with a smile on your face.

Unlike the screaming, cursing, wailing crowd of people that you’re driving through.

cockswain's avatar

Definitely not arguing that.

LadyMarissa's avatar

I know I’m a little late for this; however, I see nothing wrong with coming late to the party as long as I’m still having fun!!! I believe that you receive back that which you put out into the universe!!! I used to work for a company where it was mandatory that you smile when answering the telephone. Seems that they had researched the subject & discovered that it’s impossible to sound mad while smiling. Their theory was if you sound happy that it will make their customer feel happy. It must work for they have been in business for over 125 years…founded 1887!!!

Even when in a bad mood, I smile at people who are walking toward me, they smile back, & I end up feeling happier. By the end of the day, I’m in a good mood!!!

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