In what I like to call the Great Asymmetry, every spectacular incident of evil will be balanced by 10,000 acts of kindness, too often unnoted and invisible...
- Stephen Jay Gould
It was raining hard when I got up. Good for cooling the city off. Not good for walking to the office on a blown-out knee, so I let my colleagues know I’d be working from home. “I’ll be on email except for a couple of hours when I’m doing PT.”
“Glad to see you dedicate time to positive thinking,” one coworker replied. He was joking—he knows PT is short for physical therapy and that I’m rehabbing the aforementioned knee to get it as strong and flexible as possible before I have surgery next month.
Still, it struck me that physical therapy, which is focused on the body, and positive thinking, which is about the mind and spirit, have a lot in common.
To build and maintain mobility or a positive attitude:
You’ve got to stick with it. Change doesn’t happen overnight—not meaningful, lasting change. Practice regularly, whether it’s leg raises or gratitude exercises or positive affirmations. Make it part of your daily routine if possible.
You need patience (goes hand in hand with the persistence mentioned above). It’s seldom a straight shot to your goal. You’ll have setbacks and hit plateaus. But you’ll also have breakthroughs and make great leaps forward. If you feel stuck, don’t lose hope. Give it time, time.
You have to stretch yourself, go beyond your comfort zone, sometimes even push till it hurts, to keep making progress. As soon as an exercise gets too easy, my physical therapist adds weights or resistance or replaces it with a more challenging move that strengthens those muscles. Same goes with becoming a more positive person—you have to keep challenging yourself if you want to keep growing.
Physical therapy. Positive thinking. Maybe it’s no accident that both can be shortened to PT.
Amy Wong is the executive editor of Guideposts and was a founding editor of Positive Thinking. She lives in New York City with her adopted dog, Winky, a natural-born positive thinker who believes that everyone has a treat for her and every day is the best day of her life. Amy hopes to be that optimistic someday (she’s working on it!).