I have often wondered about this very thing myself. All my searching and studying, scientific as well as philosophical and metaphysical research, has led me to believe that there are several layers of 'reality' which interact and provide a background soup within which all actions and their natural reactions occur. To quote the King James Bible:
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every
purpose under the heaven"
Firstly there is our own individual timing which is unique to each of us. Secondly there is the timing of our immediate circumstances. This includes our family, friends, colleagues and their issues. Furthermore is the timing of the society in which we find ourselves which widens out to our national timing. This continues into planetary and universal timing like layers of cog wheels in a clock. When all align in a positive manner we find that our life goes through an expansive period in which all 'falls into place', almost regardless of how we think or feel about life at that moment.
It is possible to be 'in tune' to this to some degree. Listening to one's intuition or following one's gut reactions is what most people would understand by this. Psychological studies show that we are naturally hard wired to have these reactions to events. It is part of our survival instinct. This is how to make 'decisions' without 'thinking'. It is the inner 'knowing' that serves us so very well and which evades egoistic wants.
So what has this to do with positive thinking? Well, I have tried and tried to 'will' certain things into fruition and ended up with what I call 'flat forehead syndrome' i.e. banging my head against a brick wall when it comes to making progress. Despite optimism and being made of rubber i.e I keep bouncing back, things just don't move forward. Why? The timing was not right. This has nothing to do with attitude providing success or pessimism leading to failure. It is rather a realistic assessment of what I wanted to achieve not aligning with the layers of reality and timing within which I live.
This is not just about sitting back and going with the flow, it is not hanging on for the sake of it and becoming a martyr to my own cause nor is it a way of passing blame elsewhere. Indeed it is only when we take full responsibility for our own timeline that we can fully tune into events and feel our way through. This does not however guaranteed that we will get it all 'right'. Many unexpected or disappointing outcomes are in fact a very good way of honing our skills and ability to cope with life, whilst having it all easy can lead to complacency. Ups and downs in life are totally normal. What we learn by 'getting through' these is what teaches us. Reviewing and acknowledging that what we wanted may not have been for the best or has now changed due to new circumstances is also good practice.
To suggest that the power of positive thinking can create the world of your dreams overnight is totally wrong. Firstly it condems one in four of us who are suffering from depression at any time to a bleak future and possible life of misery. Secondly it is unrealistic in that we are material beings living in a space-time continuum. In other words it takes time for things to become 'real'. More importantly it also takes action. It is no good just sitting there wishing. Knowing when to plan, when to act and when to rest is vital in this rhythmic universe. Understanding that ego driven wants are not always in our best interest is also crucial.
This knowledge in and of itself however is of no value. What we do with it is the important factor. It's not what you do but the way that you do it that shows whether you have learnt the necessary wisdom to tune in and find your path. Your attitude affects you and the way that you live but it is not the be all and end all. Attitude does not provide opportunity or success in and of itself. Much of that comes from 'luck' or being in the right place at the right time!
Smile or Die - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5um8QWWRvo