Choosing to be positive and having a grateful attitude is going to determine how you’re going to live your life. – Joel Scott Osteen
Anyone preparing for the UPSC civil services will know that the IAS exam preparation is a trial by fire. There are many factors that have given the UPSC exam the tag of ‘the toughest exam in India’, like the humongous and diverse UPSC syllabus, the three-stages of the exam, the long preparation time associated with it, the number of competitors, etc. Many of the hardworking and intelligent candidates have given up halfway on their IAS dreams. You can do all the right things like, enrol for the right IAS coaching, get all the required study material, talk to experts and UPSC veterans, immerse yourself in your studies; but still fall short of your target. There is a magic ingredient required to take you to your desired goal. It is called ‘POSITIVE THINKING’. They are just two words but they pack a lot of punch. Every successful person will tell you that apart from the hard work and talent they nurtured, all of them engaged in positive thinking.
It is easy to dismiss this article as just another ‘pep-talk’ one. But remember, words have the power to move mountains. Words propelled a child ridiculed at school to invent the light bulb as an adult; words inspired a billion people to move as one against imperial powers, words can ignite a passion in you and drive you to achieve it!
It is a scientifically proven fact that positive thinking does produce positive results. Negative thoughts are like toxins. They create negative energy and instil negative feelings in us like fear, anxiety, self-doubt, depression, anger, etc. All these emotions lead to low productivity and over a period of time, they become our habit. We can say ‘goodbye’ to success and happiness if we inculcate such habits.
According to life coach Remez Sasson, positive thinking is a mental and emotional attitude that focuses on the bright side of life and expects positive results. A positive person expects happiness, success and health, and believes he or she can overcome any hindrance and difficulty.
What happens when we have negative thoughts?
As cavemen, our brains were programmed to respond to negative emotions by ‘flight’. When we were confronted with wild animals, our brain sensed fear and we just ‘ran’. This instinct was meant to protect us. This instinct of ‘running’ and not exploring other options may have saved our ancestors from being wild prey, but today there are no wild animals chasing us and our ‘causes of fear’ are more intangible things. We should adapt our response to fear in a manner that benefits us. Instead of running or shutting out ourselves from the outside world, we should shut out the negative thoughts that plague us. Thoughts like, ‘will I complete the syllabus?’, ‘will I clear the IAS exam?’, and ‘Can I ever be an IAS officer?’ are called mental baggage or ‘brain junk’. Chuck them out. Replace them with positive thoughts like, ‘I can and I will’, ‘I have a lot of strengths in me’, ‘my goal is to crack the UPSC civil services exam this time and nothing can stop me’.
Just like in the cavemen example, negative emotions cloud your mind towards available options, whereas positive thinking broadens your horizon. According to Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, ‘happiness is essential to building the skills that allow for success.’
Why do we need positive thinking?
Your thoughts lead to behaviours, which lead to habits, and habits create your life. So, we need positive thinking to instil the habits required to make a success out of life. If you are constantly beating yourself up about your lack of intelligence to succeed in the UPSC exams, you will never have the energy to say, wake up early and study. You will never have the motivation to study hard because you believe that no matter how hard you study, you will fail. So, now because you never inculcated the habits required for your IAS preparation, you will not clear the exam. Thoughts, negative or positive, work like a self-fulfilling prophecy.
How to inculcate positive thinking
- Avoid negative talk
- Believe in yourself
- Indulge in pep-talk to yourself
- Visualise your success
- Increase your expectations
- Chuck your brain junk
- Set goals and achieve them
- Stay healthy physically – it leads to sound mental health
- Write on a piece of paper your goals and read them aloud every day
- DON’T TRY. JUST DO IT. This is the most important point. ‘Try’ is a word laden with negative emotions. If you say, ‘I will try to clear the IAS exam’, you are already giving yourself an excuse to fail. Have no option but to succeed.
Positive thinking is the philosopher’s stone you need for the UPSC personality test
Positive thinking is especially beneficial for the IAS interview. If you fill your mind with positive thoughts, you will feel happy. This will be reflected in your eyes, face and body language. You will walk and talk with more ease and with confidence. This will definitely play its part in giving the interviewers a good first impression.
“YOU DO NOT need to be a victim of worry. Reduced to its simplest form, what is worry? It is simply an unhealthy and destructive mental habit.” – Norman Vincent Peale, Author – The Power of Positive Thinking.