The fundamental negative thinking is thinking that happiness is to be found only in matter

Nowadays many books urge us to think positive. Certainly, we shouldn’t shackle and cripple ourselves by negative thinking. But to tap positive thinking properly, we need to go beyond materialism, beyond the assumption that happiness can be found only in matter. Why? Because negative thinking is inherent to materialism.

Negative thinking keeps our vision riveted to dark possibilities. Similarly, materialistic thinking keeps our vision riveted to material objects, limiting our perception of reality to the arena of matter, where our hopes for happiness are bound to be frustrated sooner or later. Material things are by their very nature temporary, whereas we long for lasting happiness. Gita wisdom explains that this longing comes from our spiritual core: the soul, which being eternal longs for eternal fulfillment. Material reality being perishable is incapable of living up to our expectations of happiness.

By giving matter monopoly over our conceptions of happiness, we lock ourselves in a doomed pursuit – seeking the lasting in the fleeting.

What makes us spiritual beings seek pleasure in temporary material things? The illusion induced by subtle material forces known as modes – they distort our perceptions according to the desires we have entertained in the past. The Gita (14.20) states that those who transcend the modes go beyond the miseries of material existence.

For transcending the modes, the most efficacious way is bhakti-yoga. It enables us to find happiness in loving and serving Krishna, the all-attractive, all-loving supreme person. By thus providing us higher spiritual happiness, bhakti-yoga empowers us to engage material things without being enamored by them. And by living in the light of Krishna’s love, we embrace the highest positive thinking because, no matter what negative things happen to us, his love, being unfailing and unflinching, always shelters, encourages and empowers us.

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