​​​​Beyond Positive Thinking: The Power of Intelligent Thinking

Thousands of studies show that being more positive and optimistic helps boost your health, happiness, success, and overall well-being in life.

Also, most of us intuitively understand that a positive thought like “I can achieve my goals” will help us be happier, more confident, and more successful, while a negative thought like “I’ll never achieve any of my goals” will make us unhappy, unconfident, and less successful.

But if positive thinking is so great and beneficial, why do some people dislike it and roll their eyes at it? And on the other hand, why is it hard for so many people to think more positively and stay positive, even if they want to do this?

6 problems with positive thinking & how to solve them with Intelligent Thinking

Whether you’re someone who dislikes positive thinking, or whether you’re someone who loves positive thinking, yet finds it hard to stay positive sometimes…

Your problems with positive thinking are the same.

Right now, I’m going to address 6 problems with positive thinking, and then show you how you can solve them with a way of thinking that I call Intelligent Thinking.

The result: you’ll learn a new way of thinking that’s easier, more powerful, and more effective than positive thinking, where you get to enjoy all the benefits of positive thinking, like greater happiness, confidence, and success, without any of its liabilities.

Bottom line, whether you love or hate positive thinking, you’ll love Intelligent Thinking and the amazing effects it will have on your life.

With this in mind, let’s get started with problem #1 for positive thinking…

1. A “positive” thought isn’t necessarily good, helpful, or intelligent

To understand this, consider the thought “Doughnuts are amazing and delicious.”

This is a very upbeat, positive thought.

However, if you want to stop eating doughnuts, then it is not a good, helpful, or intelligent thought for you to think, since it will only tempt and compel you to eat more doughnuts, not less.

Instead, if you want to stop eating doughnuts, a good, helpful, intelligent thought might be “Even if doughnuts are amazing and delicious, I’m better off without them”, even though it doesn’t sound as “positive”.

The key idea: “positive” thoughts aren’t always good, helpful, or intelligent, simply because they’re “positive”. Furthermore, thoughts that might not sound as positive can be good, helpful, and intelligent, so it’s important to look at more than just the “positivity” of a thought for determining whether it’s good, valuable, and worth thinking.

2. Positive thinking might not help you achieve your goals

As we’ve seen from the “Doughnuts are amazing and delicious” example, just because a thought is positive, it doesn’t mean it will help you achieve your goals. Indeed, this kind of positive thought can actually make it harder for you to achieve your goals!

Here’s the problem: if you think a positive thought just because it sounds “positive”, without considering whether it helps you achieve a goal or not, you’ll naturally end up thinking all sorts of positive thoughts that don’t help you achieve your goals. Sometimes you’ll even find yourself thinking “positive” thoughts that make it harder for you to achieve what you want.

Also, not considering whether a “positive” thought helps you achieve one of your goals leads to the next problem…

3. Positive thinking might not help you act in beneficial ways

As we’ve seen from the “Doughnuts are amazing and delicious” example, a positive thought can actually compel you to act in ways you don’t want, making your life harder.

But in many cases, a positive thought simply might not compel you to act at all to improve your well-being.

For example, the positive thought “Everything’s great and is going to be ok” might be a positive thought, but if you’re on a sinking ship, this kind of positive thought will not compel you to act to save your life and other people’s lives, which is what you probably want most of all.

Instead, a thought like “If I can just get to the life boat, I can save myself and other people” will help compel you to take action to save lives, which is what you truly want.

Even though this thought doesn’t sound as rosy or positive as “Everything’s great and is going to be ok”, it’s undeniably more helpful for saving lives.

4. Positive thinking doesn’t necessarily focus on truth or validity

This is a big one. If you value positive thinking simply because it’s “positive”, you might find yourself trying to think positive thoughts regardless of whether they’re true or valid to you.

For our sinking ship example, maybe you’re terrified in that situation, and yet you try to make yourself think “Everything’s great and is going to be ok”, even though you don’t find this true or valid.

For right now, it doesn’t matter why you might do this.

All that matters is recognizing that this is a common problem with positive thinking: the value of “positivity” is valued so much that people can try to get themselves to think thoughts that are “positive”, regardless of whether they find them true or valid.

Unfortunately, when this happens, it makes people less sensible and clear-minded, and it also leads to the next 2 problems…

5. Positive thinking can sometimes feel fake or phony

When you try to make yourself think thoughts that are positive, when you don’t consider them true or valid, it will feel fake and phony to you.

This will naturally make it harder for you to think positively and stay positive, and at the same time, it will probably come across as fake, phony, and perhaps even delusional to other people around you.

After all, they’re picking up on the same thing you are: this kind of forced positive thinking ultimately feels false in some way.

And this leads to the final problem with positive thinking…

6. Forcing yourself to think positively can be a hard, unpleasant struggle with no payoff

When you try to force yourself to think positive thoughts, even though you don’t find them true or valid, it is a hard, miserable struggle.

When this happens, you are literally at war with your mind, because you are trying to force your mind to think in a way that it doesn’t want to think.

The worst part of all is that it’s a struggle with no payoff.

Because if your mind doesn’t accept a “positive” thought you’re trying to force it to think, then you won’t get the benefits you ultimately want, like greater peace of mind or happiness.

Instead, all you’re left with is a miserable struggle with no payoff.

Solving these 6 problems of positive thinking with Intelligent Thinking

The great news is that it’s very simple and easy to solve these 6 problems of positive thinking with Intelligent Thinking, so that you get all the benefits you would want from positive thinking, but without any of the pitfalls you just learned about.

Here’s how to solve all 6 problems with positive thinking in just 3 steps, which I’ll cover in greater detail below:

  1. Identify a thought that would be helpful for achieving a goal you want to achieve
  2. Verify whether this thought would have a positive impact on your life
  3. Verify that you can comfortably and honestly accept this thought as true or valid

1. Identify a thought that would be helpful for achieving a goal you want to achieve

Instead of valuing a thought strictly for its “positivity”, focus on whether a thought is helpful for achieving a goal.

This changes everything, because you’re focused on helpfulness and goal achieving instead of positivity, which means you naturally identify thoughts that are helpful for achieving goals and that compel you to act.

Furthermore, when you focus on whether a thought is helpful or not for achieving a goal, it makes it easy to dismiss or reject thoughts that might sound “positive” but don’t help you, or, inversely, to accept thoughts that might not sound as positive but are actually very helpful.

For example, once you know that you want to eat less doughnuts, you make it easy to go from “Doughnuts are amazing and delicious” to “Even if doughnuts are amazing and delicious, I’m better off without them”.

Similarly, once you know that you want to save your life and other people’s lives on a sinking ship, you make it easy to go from “We’re all going to die” or “Everything is great and going to be ok” to “If I can just get to the life boat, I can save myself and other people”.

2. Verify whether this thought would have a positive impact on your life

Remember, you want all those great benefits that are associated with being more positive and optimistic, like greater happiness, confidence, success.

So after you identify a thought that is helpful for achieving your goal, see for yourself whether it would have a positive impact on your life.

For example, consider “Even if doughnuts are amazing and delicious, I’m better off without them”.

Perhaps this makes you less tempted to eat doughnuts and gives you peace of mind about not eating them, which naturally helps make you more successful eating less doughnuts and helps you feel better at the same time.

By considering the impact, you can see that this is a potentially great thought for you to think, since it gives you the kinds of benefits you want, even though it might not sound as positive as some other thoughts.

3. Verify that you can comfortably and honestly accept this thought as true or valid

By taking this crucial step, not only are you always thinking thoughts that help you achieve your goals and that have a positive impact on your life, but you also get to comfortably and naturally think this way without any struggle.

You never feel fake, phony, or delusional when you take this last step. Instead, you always feel intelligent, clear-minded, and secure in your thoughts, because you know you’re thinking thoughts that benefit you and that are clearly true or valid to you.

By extension, instead of ever miserably forcing yourself to think positive thoughts that you don’t consider true or valid, you always find it easy, comfortable, and natural to think in true, valid ways that benefit you.

Ultimately, unlike with positive thinking, which can be hard at times, it’s never hard to think a true or valid Intelligent Thought that benefits you and helps you achieve your goals. Instead, it’s always an easy, intelligent no-brainer.

What makes Intelligent Thinking intelligent?

I call this way of thinking Intelligent Thinking because it fires on all cylinders.

First, you get all the benefits of positive thinking that you would want to get, without any of its liabilities.

Second, this way of thinking makes it easier for you to take action, achieve your goals, and be more successful.

And third, you find it easy, natural, comfortable, and enjoyable to think this way.

In summary, Intelligent Thinking is easier, more powerful, more effective, more enjoyable, and more clear-minded than positive thinking. And because it’s a way of thinking that’s always true or valid to you, it always feels authentic, genuine, and natural to you.

For all these reasons, this makes Intelligent Thinking a highly intelligent way of thinking that anyone can benefit from.

Intelligent Thinking for people who dislike positive thinking

If you dislike positive thinking, and yet you appreciate how your thoughts affect your life, and you want to think in ways that make you happier, more confident, and more successful, develop the skill of Intelligent Thinking.

You can use the steps you just learned.

But the fastest and easiest way to start thinking an Intelligent Thought that benefits you is to use the Daily Happiness & Success Tool. It will help you think an Intelligent Thought in 2 minutes or less, and you can see how it immediately has a positive impact on your life.

Intelligent Thinking for people who love positive thinking

If you love positive thinking, that’s fine and great. After all, like I said at the beginning, thousands of studies have shown how being more positive and optimistic has a beneficial impact on people’s lives.

The key, though, is that you want to start developing the skill of Intelligent Positive Thinking.

In short, although Intelligent Thinking and Positive Thinking are two different concepts, there is an overlap, and that’s what you want to strive for. See the Venn diagram below to make this more clear.

The differences and overlap between positive thinking and Intelligent Thinking

Intelligent Thinking and Positive Thinking Overlap

Hopefully, this diagram helps clarify the following things:

  • Intelligent Thoughts are always helpful for achieving your goals, have a positive impact on your life, and are always true or valid to you
  • Positive thoughts always seem “positive” in some way, yet they don’t always help you achieve your goals, they don’t necessarily have a positive impact on your life, and they’re not necessarily true or valid
  • Some positive thoughts are helpful for achieving your goals, have a positive impact on your life, and are true or valid to you (these are the Intelligent Positive Thoughts you want to aim for, if you love positive thinking)
  • For example, since optimism has so many proven benefits, you might want to aim for Intelligent Optimism that helps you achieve your goals, helps you feel good, and that is true or valid to you

Hopefully, this diagram also helps clarify:

  • Some Intelligent Thoughts are “positive”
  • And some Intelligent Thoughts are not positive, but they still help you achieve your goals, have a positive impact on your life, and are true or valid to you

Intelligent Thinking is for everyone

At the end of the day, whether you love or hate positive thinking, you can benefit from the power of Intelligent Thinking.

Get started thinking an Intelligent Thought right now, in 2 minutes or less, by using the Daily Happiness & Success Tool, and see how it has an immediate positive effect on your life.

Or learn how to rewire your mind with Intelligent Thinking. Or learn even more about the differences between Intelligent Thinking and positive thinking.

About the author

Hi, I'm Dave Fonvielle, the founder of Always Greater. On this website I teach you step by step how to be happier and more successful achieving your goals, whether it's completing a small personal to do task, like doing the dishes, or a large business goal, like launching a new product. Get my free 3 Tiny Habits for Being Happier & More Successful training for all of this right here. 


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