Hi everyone. As some of you know I have developed a desire to encourage the community to grow from within. I have been doing some reading and thinking about what can help us grow and would like to present the material to you periodically.
Online forum life is a fairly new phenomenon, is understudied and presents problems to which real deep-rooted solutions have not been properly promoted.
Thanks for reading my reflections and thanks for your feedback.
The power of constructive thinking
by Philippe Adib
Life on forums is exciting. At once, people can boast about achievements, and at other times they can banter about various topics and poke fun at each other. It is a place for people to connect and feel at home, to be their most natural selves and to enjoy being a part of it.
This same relaxed nature of forums, added to the nature of anonymity, is what also makes them prone to in-fighting or hostility. Ungirdled thought can lead to both positive and negative emotions being expressed.
People are beginning to wonder: would things be boring if we control the way we reply? Can we avoid unnecessary squabbles while being free to express ourselves?
In comes constructive thinking.
What is it?
Constructive thinking is a way of reacting to your world in your own thoughts, in a way that leads to the best outcome for you and others in terms of personal growth, while limiting the amount of problems your reactions produce in your environment.
The importance of constructive thinking grows with the idea that thoughts lead to emotions and emotions lead to actions. It would then serve as the basis for constructive behaviour.
How does it work?
Step 1: Look around you
To make constructive thinking work, the first step is to become familiar with the areas of growth you want to develop or that others seek to develop. You also need to know what is ineffective in a given place, or what can lead to good results. This then comes with observation, and reflection about what's being observed. Taking notes about what you notice, you can become aware of your surroundings and of peoples' reactions or needs. By increasing your knowledge about you, those around you in a given context, and the context itself, you are one step closer to constructive thinking.
Step 2: Making good judgement calls and making an effort
Of course many would love to speak their minds and never be met with adverse reactions, but for those who may have tried you know that it is not possible, a thing of dreams. In reality, one person's free thought may make another person feel chained.
For that reason, it's important to know who your listener is, what common points you share, and to be strategic about bringing about topics that you sense they may react negatively to. Perhaps with that individual, a certain topic may not be right, or perhaps that day something is wrong and that person may not be willing to talk about it. In the context of an anonymous forum it is very difficult to gauge these moods, but it is possible to know who your audience is and what their opinions are by observing them and understanding what they are looking for. Based on your observations, you can make better judgement calls as to what, when and where to mention certain authentic thoughts.
Step 3: Keep it interesting
Negativity breeds negativity, but not many people know that mediocrity also breeds negativity.
Most people would easily agree that negative attitudes invite other negative attitudes, but what is less obvious is that negativity can stem from other sources than attitude.
Here is an example: two people are discussing a topic that fascinates them, enters person 3. This person has no interest in the topic and detract the attention to something else, or suggests ideas which are not very well thought out, because of their lack of interest. The mediocrity of that person's ideas relative to the group's constructive thinking causes a clash which can lead to adverse reactions.
Alternatively, as a poster you might make a statement or an opening post that lacks humour, meaning or doesn't really excite peoples' attention. Instinctively, without intending to offend, people can sense the mediocrity and judge it as negative, and then react negatively in return. Constructive thinking then would ask that the content and the way it is conveyed are equally important in making people excited about what you have to say. Using humour, or by bringing in ideas that are new, people will often react positively because they want to encourage what you bring to the table.
Staying true to yourself
Constructive thinking is a means to increase positive outcomes in community thinking, but it would be silly to think that adverse reactions can be avoided. Really, constructive thinking is not a means to people-pleasing, but a means to personal development, and comes from a place of harmony and allowing one's self and others to say uninteresting things or have negative emotions and be okay with it. The positive nature of constructive thinking comes from a place where expectations are at a minimum but hope is at its highest, where you know that things are difficult in inter-personal relationships but that they can only go up because there is so much room for growth.
Contrary to censorship, constructive thinking is a way to stay true to yourself and avoid unnecessary adversity. When facing adversity or when being bothered for having certain opinions, many of us conclude that it is better to stay quiet, or to mask our actual opinions, or to avoid certain people altogether. Though many times this is effective, constructive thinking is a second tool to help us be true to ourselves and express ourselves authentically while minimizing negative reactions and, at the same time, allows us to bring out the best in those around us!
Teach a man to laugh, you've got yourself a friend for a lifetime.
Last edited by padib - on 27 December 2018