A-Z Popular Blog Philosophy Search »
Personal Development
Related Guides
Personal Goals


Life Goals


False Hope

Personal Challenges

14 Principles of Positive Thinking

Positive thinking is the embrace of the potential and bright side of every situation. This is a habit or practice that can be developed with discipline. The following are basic principles of positive thinking.

Abundance Mentality

The principle that there is enough for everyone such that another person's successes don't diminish your own accomplishments or potential. This defeats negative emotions such as envy and schadenfreude.

Productive Assumptions

A productive assumption is an assumption that is designed to make you productive. This doesn't need to be demonstrably or strictly true. For example, the assumption that the universe wants to see you succeed such that any challenges you face are its way of nudging you in the right direction. Even if this doesn't turn out to be true, it may shape your behavior in productive ways.


Taking time to express gratitude and to be thankful for things. For example, considering your ancestors back for many generations who struggled and survived to make you possible.


Regularly considering the wonder of things is a positive thought process that can provide perspective. For example, cultivating an interest in things like philosophy, nature, science, technology, culture, history, music, film and art that tend to inspire a sense of wonder.

Forward Thinking

Thinking about possibilities and potential. For example, the common practice of viewing problems as opportunities.


Forward thinking requires imagination. For example, the opportunity in a problem is rarely obvious such that it requires a creative jump to see it. As such, carefully nurturing your imagination with pursuits such as play and creative expression can benefit positive thinking.

Risk Taking

Positive thinking calls for calculated risk taking. For example, taking steps to achieve the things that you need as opposed to passively lamenting that you don't have these things now.


Discipline is the ability to get things done, even where you aren't feeling particularly motivated. Risk taking without discipline is unlikely to work out well.

Do Good

In your plans to take calculated risks to seize opportunity, consider making things better for everyone. This will feel good and produce more positive thinking in a virtuous cycle.

Silent Goals

Avoid idly expressing negative opinions but instead work to change things with action. Consider keeping your admirable goals secret as talking about all the great things you're going to do tends to decrease your motivation to actually do things.


A sure way to fail at optimism is to look for constant validation from others. Optimism requires self confidence, resilience and risk taking whereby you are willing to be misunderstood. Worrying too much about how you are perceived is likely to make you vulnerable to the negative emotions of others. Conversely, if you are constantly complimented by those around you, it likely to generate vanity, smugness or overconfidence. Consider looking at yourself in a realistic light, accepting yourself and working to be indifferent to any unfair negativity that you may face.

Maybe Good, Maybe Bad

Deferring negative judgements and avoiding them where they are unnecessary. People have a tendency to constantly evaluate people, places, ideas, events and things into categories of bad and good. Such judgements are often overly simplistic as they may be based on limited information and neglect grey areas and potential. Consider the following story.
Once upon a time there was a Chinese farmer who lost a horse. And all the neighbors came around that evening and said "That's too bad."

And he said "Maybe."

The next day the horse came back and brought seven wild horses with it. And all the neighbors came around and said "Why, that's great, isn't it?"

And he said "Maybe."

The next day his son was attempting to tame one of these horses and was riding it and was thrown and broke his leg. And all the neighbors came around in the evening and said "Well, that's too bad, isn't it."

And the farmer said "Maybe."

The next day the conscription officers came around looking for people for the army and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. And all the neighbors came around in the evening and said "Isn't that wonderful?"

And he said "Maybe."

~ Alan Watts, Lecture On Zen, 1960


Stoicism is the philosophy that it is not good luck or bad luck that matters but rather your virtuous response to each situation. This is positive thinking as it focuses completely on that which is within your ability to control such that you are indifferent to circumstances.

Defensive Pessimism

Defensive pessimism is the practice of using a negative point of view to manage risk and to temper unbridled optimism that is likely to be unrealistic. Pessimism and optimism aren't mutually exclusive but can be used in stages to solve a problem or make a decision. For example, it is common to use positive thinking to brainstorm ideas and defensive pessimism to validate these ideas. There is no reason for positive thinking to leave you out of touch with reality. It is usually the risk takers who know the most about risk management.

Positive Thinking vs Optimism

Positive thing and optimism are close to being synonymous. However, positive thinking implies a conscious effort to direct your thoughts in positive ways. Optimism suggests a habit, emotion or personality trait that occurs spontaneously.
Overview: Positive Thinking
The embrace of the potential and bright side of every situation.
Related Concepts

Personal Development

This is the complete list of articles we have written about personal development.
Character Building
Character Strengths
Comfort Zone
Digital Minimalism
False Hope
Financial Literacy
Future Goals
Good Habits
Individual Capital
Life Change
Life Decision
Life Design
Life Goals
Life Ideas
Life Satisfaction
Life Skills
Needs & Wants
Negative Emotions
Perfect Imperfection
Personal Brand
Personal Decisions
Personal Growth
Personal Interests
Personal Networking
Personal Organization
Personal Philosophy
Personal Plan
Personal Planning
Personal Qualities
Personal Standards
Personal Strengths
Personal Swot
Personality Traits
Positive Expectations
Positive Thinking
Process Goals
Self Criticism
Toxic Positivity
More ...
If you enjoyed this page, please consider bookmarking Simplicable.

Personal Development

An overview of personal development with examples.

Personal Strengths

A list of common personal strengths.

Study Skills

A list of common study skills.

Digital Minimalism

The definition of digital minimalism with examples.

Character Strengths

A list of common character strengths.

Character Weaknesses

A list of common character weaknesses.

Character Building

The definition of character building with examples.

Words To Describe Character

A vocabulary for describing character.


The definition of perfectionism with examples.


An overview of philosophy with examples.


The definition of relativism with examples.

Personal Philosophy

The definition of personal philosophy with examples.

Social Constructionism

The definition of social constructionism with examples.

Objective Reality

The definition of objective reality with examples.

Scarcity Mindset

The definition of scarcity mindset with examples.


The definition of humanism with a list of characteristics and criticisms.

Perfect Imperfection

The definition of perfect imperfection with examples.


The definition of altruism with examples and counterexamples.
The most popular articles on Simplicable in the past day.

New Articles

Recent posts or updates on Simplicable.
Site Map