Realism and Positivity, how to maintain a positive mindset while remaining realistic.  Learn more about thriving your life by subscribing to my blog.

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Realism and Positivity

Faced with references to ‘positive thinking’ and ‘positivity’ it is tempting to conjure an image of an unrealstic view of the world.  We live in difficult times, our world seems pretty messed up!  But, focusing too much on what’s going wrong will cause us to miss the amazing opportunities right in front of us.

It would be great to live life without a care in the world, but is that really possible?  Things happen that are outside our control, hurdles will be placed in our way, so realism needs to be present.

Accepting that it isn’t possible to control every situation is a big step towards strong psychological foundations. If I try to micro-manage my life, attempting to control everything, I cannot possibly succeed.  Instead I need to take control of those things I can, but develop confidence in my coping ability.  When unanticipated events occur, when problems arise, knowing I can cope gets me through.


In his poem ‘If’ Rudyard Kipling goes some way towards acknowledging the need for a combination of Realism and Positivity.  To paraphrase:

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you

But make allowance for their doubting too……..

……….Yours is the Earth and everything thats’ in it

           And – which is more – you’ll be a man my son.

Following the crowd, lacking self trust, lacking understanding of others, are all sure routes to poor resilience.  Remaining realistic, but with a positive mindset, on the other hand, breeds resilience.


Faced with adversity some people crumble whilst others win through, and whats more, adversity means different things to different people.  Being late for an appointment can, to some, seem like a disaster but doesn’t bother others.  We all cope in different ways and at different levels, but what if we are faced with true, life threatening, adversity?

During the Vietnam War a US Naval pilot, Jim Stockdale, was shot down.  He and his men were imprisoned in dreadful conditions for eight years.  During this period Stockdale never lost confidence in his ability to cope.  His circumstances were beyond his control, but his reaction to them was not.

After his release Doctors assessed Stockdale and found him to be almost psychologically intact. In interview he said  ” I never doubted I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life”.  Asked about those who didn’t survive he described them as ‘the optimists’.  Those were the men who expected to be liberated ‘by Christmas’, ‘by Easter’ etc. When those times passed without liberation these men lacked the resilience needed to withstand the setbacks.  Stockdale said they ‘ died of broken hearts’ .

A tree bends when buffeted by the wind, that way it doesn't break

Combining Positivity with Realism helps you to bend and develop resilience.


Realism and Thriving

Realism is accepting that we cannot control everything.  There are many things we can control, or improve, but there will always be events outside our control.  For example, we take reasonable steps to ensure our home is safe from flood.  The steps we take will vary dependent upon the likelihood of flooding – but what about the ‘once in a lifetime’ flood?  Too rare to anticipate, too severe to control, almost impossible to prevent – but we can be resilient!

Realism and Positivity –

Positivity allows us to maximise our enjoyment of everything from a bright sunny day, to the hugs from our children.

Realism lets us face difficulties with determination and positivity.  This empowers and helps us employ our coping skills in order to remain resilient in the face of setback.

The combination of positivity and realism allowas us to thrive.

Our sense of power and control, and our desire for control, are just two aspects of our psychological foundations that The Thrive Programme focuses on.  Thrive With Ian will take you through the programme in as little as 6 weeks so you can learn how to strengthen your psychological foundations and truly THRIVE.

Contact me to learn more about how to thrive your life.



I’m Ian and I’m a qualified Thrive Programme Consultant. Using the professionally developed Thrive Programme – a proven, evidence based, positive psychology training programme – I work with people from all walks of life, providing the insights and skills they need to change their lives for the better.

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