“How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four; calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.” ~Abraham Lincoln.

When some new, intriguing, and well-packaged self-help book, system or idea comes out, it is very easy to run straight towards it with a smothering full body embrace. Unfortunately years later, what we are left holding sadly turns out to be nothing more than a half-truth on its way to evolving into full maturity. Even “The Secret” and “The Law of Attraction” still both have the rest of their stories to tell.

Before we can think positively and attract more positive things in our life, we have to get in touch with our subtle negativity that undermines the best of intentions and efforts. And this subtle negativity, being mostly a moving target of unconscious thinking, can be somewhat impervious to seeing and changing. This great challenge requires us to slow down and apply critical thinking about the whole situation, becoming ever so sensitive to spotting half-truths. But, we are in a bad habit of instant need gratification, wanting to have the whole Kahuna right now if not sooner.

We have two very important choices with our behavior in life:

• To choose what areas in which to be balanced and temperate, being better safe than sorry.
• To choose what areas in which to opt for all or nothing, throwing caution to the wind.

The same distinction applies to these very choices themselves. And that is exactly why ½ + ½ doesn’t always add up to one. Each “one” is really only a ½ . That adds up to a possible four ¼ ths.

Getting to the “truth” of something requires a whole, complete approach that always allows for its “opposite twin.” More than a decade ago, Martin Seligman did some important research to distinguish between optimistic and pessimistic mental explanatory styles of both good and bad events that happen to us (this is where ½ plus ½ does equal one).

Most of the self-growth generation has made tremendous progress in increasing positive thinking, but the counter culture, anti-ego gurus have followed-up the early mistaken over-peddling of self-esteem with a self-less humble pie replacement…or one ½ truth for another. And we don’t have the full “one” yet.

Where most normal folks are now, is in being very able to think optimistically about the bad, negative things that happen in life. We have grown in our ability to follow Seligman’s prescription in assuming bad events are not personally deserved or caused, only temporary as opposed to being permanent, and just situational rather than pervasive.

But, we are still struggling with becoming more aware of how we might not be leaning quite far enough in the right optimistic direction of interpreting the good, positive events as being personally deserved, likely to be more permanent than temporary and more likely to be positively contaminating and spilling over to other things rather than being fluky and transient.

Here’s where we run into the over-embracing of self-less humility and complete deletion of the ego pride thoughts and feelings. The whole truth is that ego and humility can become friends and co-exist peacefully, just like our heads, hearts, bodies and souls can work together synergistically for much better results. This is where we have to balance both the balance side and the letting go side of the see-saw. No wonder applying “The Secret” and “Law of Attraction” are both easier said than done! We have to get to the middle of the middle to understand this all. And that place is very murky.

In the meantime, an important choice lingers—do we continue to over-embrace the concept of balance when it comes to being more realistic, in between optimism and pessimism, or do we close our eyes and take a leap of faith and go for the positive abundance that complete optimism of the good things can bring? I think a good start would be to redefine humility, as “having the patience to wait for the abundance to find our egos.”

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA and also a business and personal success coach, sport psychologist, photographer and writer living in the mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, The Prosperity Zone, Getting More By Doing Less, You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too, The Bow-Wow Secrets, Do What Matters Most, “P” Point Management, Reality Repair, and Reality Repair Rx. He can be contacted with comments or questions at 425 454-5011 or bcottringer@pssp.net