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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Think positively, Think creatively | Bangkok Post: business

Think positively, Think creatively

In my previous column, we learned that when creating, we should avoid being overly critical, negative and sceptical and instead adopt a positive, cheerful, playful attitude. But how can we do this?

 Here are five tips to help develop the positive mindset of a creator:

1. Respond positively to negative situations.

In his book Learned Optimism, the US psychologist Martin Seligman shared a simple, effective strategy to respond positively in moments of adversity.

His ABCDE model shows you how to respond to negative events by going step-by-step toward a better outcome.

This approach extends Ellis's ABC model of Adversity (a negative event or situation), Belief (the interpretation of this adversity), and Consequences (the resulting feelings and actions),

by adding two additional steps: Disputation (offering evidence to counter either the negative beliefs, the causes of the event, or the implications) and Energisation (the positive feelings from successfully disputing negative beliefs).

By learning to apply these two steps, you will gain a more positive outlook on life.

I used the ABCDE model myself not long ago to respond positively to a negative situation: As I stepped out of a sports bar after Bayern Munich's Champions League defeat by Chelsea in a penalty shoot-out, a Chelsea fan stepped in front of me and tapped my head with a napkin as if to remove beads of sweat (Adversity).

I interpreted this bizarre moment as schadenfreude on his part (Belief) and briefly considered "unleashing the fist of death" (Consequence).

Instead, I went on to Disputation ("As German football fans, we've been lucky in penalty shoot-outs many times. Maybe this is the first time that he could celebrate winning the final.

And maybe he's not mocking me, but he's just empathetic"). I gave the Russian a pat on the back and said: "Congratulations! Enjoy the party." On the way home, I congratulated myself on my response to this potentially violent encounter (Energisation).

2. Surround yourself with positive people.

Whom do you spend your time with, at work and in your private life? Write their names on a sheet of paper, placing them into three groups: optimists who radiate positive energy, cheerfulness and joy and make you and other people in their environment feel good; realists who are neutral and evenly balanced and pragmatically deal with the ups and downs of life; and pessimists who are most of the time sceptical and negative, who are full of doubts and concerns and always find a hair in every soup.

Have you ever encountered people who radiate so much positive energy that they can change the sentiment of a group of people the moment they step into a room? In order to cultivate a positive mindset, spend more time with optimists, have an open ear to the realists, and drastically cut down on spending time with pessimists who only pull you down and deplete your energy reservoirs.

3. Let 'warm fuzzies' save your day.

When dealing with negative events in my life, I rely on my "warm fuzzies". A warm fuzzy is something _ an activity, a song, a video, a poem, a prayer _ or someone that can shift your emotion from negative to positive.

When the going gets tough, I fall back on a warm fuzzy like running fast, listening to house music, singing a funny song from my childhood, or repeating the Zen mantra "Everything that happens to me is the best possible thing that can happen to me".

What makes you feel good? Make a list of your warm fuzzies today. Then, whenever you feel down, use one of the items on your list to cheer you up.

4. Play every day.

"Always leave enough time in your life to do something that makes you happy, satisfied, even joyous. That has more of an effect on economic well-being than any other single factor," said the US author Paul Hawken, and it's excellent advice.

Every day, practise a hobby, do some exercise, spend time with those you love, or go to the cinema _ whatever is "play" to you _ to balance your work. As Virgin Group's Richard Branson put it: "Hard work and fun is what life is all about."

5. Start your day with an inner smile.

A good way to start each day is the inner smile. When you wake up, imagine your whole body smiling from within. Let it start from your navel and then radiate outward throughout your whole body. Feel the positive energy, and relish the gift of another day on this planet.

As the American journalist Andy Rooney said, "If you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it."

 Start with the inner smile, and each day you'll radiate positivity to everyone around you.

Dr Detlef Reis is the Founding Director and Chief Ideator of Thinkergy Limited (, the Ideation and Innovation Company in Asia. 

He is also a University Lecturer for Business Creativity and Innovation Leadership at the College of Management, Mahidol University ( He can be reached at


Think positively, Think creatively | Bangkok Post: business