The Power of Positive Thinking

It’s 1am and I’m wide awake.  No, I’m not at a wild party chatting over loud music to some fascinating, attractive person.  I’m lying in bed, feeling grottily nauseous and I’ve just had two of my daily allowance of six paracetamol tablets.  Maybe I shouldn’t have had that tempting little mince pie for desert, but the pain in my gut seems like a harsh punishment.

I try to distract myself by doing some simple maths.  Two tablets last for five hours and there are 22 hours left in the day.  Darn.  I can’t seem to be able to make 3 x 5 equal 22 in my befuddled, sleep deprived state.  Maths Fail.  I sigh theatrically and give up.  It’s no good.  Those tablets are going to take a while to work and here, in the black darkness and silence, pain grows and multiplies like a schlock horror-movie fungus.

Suddenly, inspiration strikes.  Why didn’t I think of this before?  It’s easy.  I have The Power.  We all have The Power!  YES!  The Power of Positive Thinking!  I might as well try it, there’s nothing much else on offer.  This is how it works.  Bear with me, it may sound a little strange, but don’t all the best things in life?  I imagine a little man.  When I say little, I mean very small indeed.  About the size of my cat, the tiny grey one that is, not Cuddles the Magnificent.  Like an imp.  POSITIVE IMP.

Positive Imp is standing in front of me with a big, happy smile on his face, nodding encouragingly with expectantly raised eyebrows.  Then he talks, in a relentlessly cheerful, upbeat voice.  “Well”, he says, “that tummy sure is sore, isn’t it!”.  My brow furrows and he responds by immediately smiling more widely and cranking his happyvoice up a notch.  “Now”, he orders, “think about everything that’s NOT SORE.  YES!  Concentrate on your toes!  Your toes are NOT SORE!  Concentrate on your fingers!  Feeel them NOT BEING IN PAIN!  They are HAPPY HAPPY FINGERS!  Yes they are!”

I’m concentrating so hard I can feel my brain cells grinding against each other, but it’s not making a diddly-squat of difference.  Obviously, I’m not committed enough yet to the Power of Positive Thinking.  I grit my teeth and focus harder.  “Your arms!  HAPPY HAPPY ARMS!  Your legs!  HAPPY HAAAAPPY LEEEGS!  YES!  You can do this!”  His eyes glow with zeal, his little arms and legs are flailing wildly in time with his enthusiastic yells.  The pain is still there, oblivious to his fanatic antics.

Suddenly, I’ve had enough.  ENOUGH, even.  Blind rage surges through me.  I grab one of his madly waving legs and hold him upside down by the foot.  He’s shrieking now, surprised.  I find myself at the edge of a cliff.  This Power of Positive Thinking does have some magic after all!  Slowly, slowly, I lower Positive Imp over the edge of the cliff.  He makes a grab for the edge, but I flick him sideways just in time.  Ha!  There’s panic in his eyes, but he’s not giving up.  “HAPPY HAPPY EARS!  HAPPY HAPPY HEAD!”  He screams shrilly as he descends slowly towards the churning sea below.  Sharks begin to circle in the foaming water, twisting up, sharp teeth gnashing as the imp gets lower and lower.  One is particularly large and vicious-looking, with beady bright eyes sizing up the tasty morsel hovering above him, just out of reach.  Or is it?  He rises high out of the water and –snap – the imp’s gone in one quick bite.  Just like that.

There is silence.  I look around.  No cliffs, imps or sharks.  Only the vague shadows of the bed, Richard and the wardrobe in the dark.  I look at the bedside clock and realize that, for ten whole minutes, I haven’t paid any attention to the pain.  YES!  The magic works!  Ten whole minutes!  This invention of mine could revolutionise popular psychology, and with three semesters of undergraduate psych under my belt, I’m eminently qualified to make the most of it.  Websites, book-deals, lecture tours with hordes of adoring, grateful, devoted followers flash through my mind.  And there’s more.  Why restrict it to pain?  This could be applied to any unpleasant life situation.  Constipation, divorce, listening to ‘Greensleeves’ while trying to sort out your surprise $600 phone bill, the possibilities are endless!

The tablets finally kick in and I drift off to sleep, all thanks to The Power of Positive Thinking.  Try it.  Just watch out for the sharks.

15 thoughts on “The Power of Positive Thinking

  1. Heidi, you’re onto a winner here, can I join when you do the book tour or movie premiere this side? Just a slight concern though, throwing little cats to vicious sharks might leave us, yes us, vulnerable to the anti-animal cruelty brigade, we need to think this one through. Seriously though Heidi, if you could ‘distract’ yourself for 10 minutes I’m certain you can do longer. So sorry about the pain.

    I’m amazed at the level of positivity in the midst of such pain. Stay strong and keep the positive thoughts, and try to use ‘Vicious Cat’ next time!


    • You wish it was a cat, Sydney. I think your subconscious was blocking out that I said it was a man the size of a cat! That’s because i think I would have some trouble holding up a full-sized bloke by the foot and I didn’t want it to sound quite that unbelievable, even fantasy needs to have a kind of internal truth, I guess, don’t you think?


  2. Oh My Goodness Heidi, no wonder it worked, you fed a little man to a vicious shark! Did he scream? I totally missed that one. I still think it has the hallmarks of a wonderful book though, The Positive Power of Scary Thoughts, lol. I can see how such positive thinking could lead to relief through improved bowel movements… You sort of scare your tummy to work well. Voila, constipation solved.


    • You know Sydney, you’ve been an invaluable teacher right here with your comments.
      Lesson one: Watch out for what images you put in your readers minds. You’ve seen the cats (on Facebook at least), so as soon as I mentioned them you had a strong ‘cat’ picture in your mind. That took on a life of its own and the mind then ignores any contrary info and sticks to the image it already has! Perhaps I should chop out the whole cat reference as being distracting and unnecessary and instead describe him as knee high and perhaps dress him in something ‘impish’ to make a stronger ‘imp’ image in people’s minds? What do you think? I think this is actually an important writing craft issue – how do we create strong images in the reader!


  3. Heidi, for me, your imp immediately took the form of a leprechaun, that mischievous and sometimes diabolical little ‘vanishing act’ of Irish folklore. I pictured him dressed in green, wearing a leather apron, screeching with raucous laughter. So yes, I agree with Sydney. Little man = imp. Imp = little man. Cuddles, you’re not needed, so you can go back to Heidi’s keyboard now. 😉 Seriously, I love this piece. Your stories never fail to conjure up images that delight my imagination, and the rhythm and exuberance of this one is superb because it’s so pure and uncontrived. You’re a wonderful storyteller, and if this exercise helped relieve your pain – well, you should know that it also lightened our hearts and made us laugh. How could it not? I’m going to return to it whenever I’m having a ‘down’ day and feeling sorry for myself!


  4. “Why restrict it to pain? This could be applied to any unpleasant life situation” True that. Positive thinking definitely helps and your article is a masterpiece, with your permission I am sharing it right away on my blog-site for the benefit of others 🙂 This is one article that really helps the depressed, disturbed mind. Thank you Heidi!


  5. I read when the pain isn’t so bad that all I can do is moan and groan. Reading is the best thing I’ve ever learned how to do. I can hold my Kindle Reader (the best thing I’ve ever spent money on, I think) without my hand hurting and still have a free hand to pet the cat when she’s in the proper frame of mind to be visible. I really wish they would come up with a pain med that got rid of the pain without slowly killing you as a side effect. Did they ever figure out what exactly is wrong?


    • Ouch, that sounds bad! Reading is good. Writing is good, too. I’ve got a dodgy tummy that flares up occasionally, but the pain was a mystery until the last doc I went to, who thinks it’s a very small hernia from a previous gallbladder op, with a nerve pinched in it. I’m having an operation (minor) to fix it early January and I hope it works! Pain med – I hear you, especially as most of them make me sick and I’m allergic to anything with Codeine in it, so I’m stuck with Paracetamol. I’ve been taking willowbark extract as well and that helps, with the nice side effect that my neck and shoulder don’t ache anymore. My tummy doesn’t complain, either, win-win!


  6. Thanks, Sydney! Yes, it explains a lot – it hurts when I eat because the stomach presses on it. Also, it’s nothing really nasty and finally looks like it can be fixed. Don’t worry – there are plenty of other ideas in the pipeline and it’ll be great to get some decent sleep!


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