Secrets of Success: Staying Positive

Updated:Feb 12,2014

Excerpted from "The Secrets of Success," Stroke Connection January/February 2004 (Last science update March 2013)

Staying Positive

The power of positive thinking has been recommended by successful people for years. According to our roundtable of stroke survivors, it’s an absolute must for successful stroke survival. They spoke extensively about the things they do to stay positive.

Norm Weissman, a retired salesman from Ohio, had a cut-and-dried formula for staying positive: “Dismiss certain words from your vocabulary, such as ‘I can’t’ or ‘I won’t.’

And don’t listen to ‘you can’t’ or ‘you won’t.’ The thing to say is ‘I will’ and ‘I do.’”

“That’s true,” concurred Kate. “You have to feed yourself with positive thoughts. If you are going to say you can’t do this, guess what, you are not going to be able to. I teach my kids this.”

Sherry added, “Never believe never. They said there was a possibility I would never walk, never talk, never remember, never do this or that. That’s the thing, never believe never. I fill my house with positive affirmations. On my bathroom mirror I had one that said ‘I accept myself for who I am now’ and also from The Little Engine that Could, ‘I think I can, I think I can.’”

Norm has another sure-fire way to stay positive, “If you really want to feel good about yourself, volunteer. If you are physically able, go to a retirement home and visit, then you will see how well off you are.”

Kate agreed: “Absolutely, it works because you are making a difference in someone else’s life. I think that defines success. I love that quote from Winston Churchill, ‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’”

David clearly knew what had made a difference for him in sustaining a positive outlook: “Meditation has really helped me physically as well as spiritually and emotionally.”

Sharing things, Wendy has discovered, helps her stay positive: “For instance, I discovered little things that help me sew, and when I master them, I call my old occupational therapists and share them with them.”

Art Gottlieb shared a different perspective on a positive attitude: “I tell every stroke group I talk to, ‘You have to be kind to yourself.’”

Norm had a different strategy: “I find it very important for me to find things outside the stroke that I can address positively. If you can get outside the stroke, you are going to do yourself a lot of good. And also, I tell every stroke survivor I meet to accent the positive and to concentrate on what they still have rather than what they have lost.”

David agreed: “I have visited 600 stroke survivors in our local hospital through a visitation program I developed, and I tell them what Henry Ford said, ‘Obstacles are the things that get in the way when we take our eyes off the goal.’”

“Humor is a big thing for me,” said John. “Humor is the key to staying positive.”

“I set goals,” added Kate. “And when I reach one, I have to set another one. I break the goals into bite-size chunks. Everybody who’s successful in life has a goal.”

More secrets:

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This content was last reviewed on 03/18/2013.


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