Finding Balance Between Positive Thinking and Reality at Bedtime

Would you be stupid for taking a bet that would pay off one time in 1,750 chances?

Are those odds really that bad?

A lot of people might say those odds aren’t that bad. They are, after all, better than winning a jackpot in a state lottery.

The payout from taking such a bet, while potentially tempting, doesn’t change the fact that it’s very much a longshot. Something that has a one in 1,750 chance of occurring probably won’t happen.

Those odds are far worse than a coin flip, for example, (1 in 2), or drawing two pairs in a hand for 5 card stud poker (1 in 20).

The 2023 World Series

At the start of the 2023 baseball season that was the chance the Arizona Diamondbacks would play the Texas Rangers in the World Series.

Amazingly enough, that’s what ended up happening.

Anybody who followed those two teams closely would have had more faith in them than what those odds represent. They’d still be a long shot, but not such an extreme one. They might have thought they’d defeat a few opponents in their leagues, for example. But to make it all the way? Incredible.

The Diamondbacks had too many rookies, for example. They played in too-tough of a division. The Los Angeles, San Francisco Giants, and the San Diego Padres were predicted to finish ahead of them at the start of the season. Further, the Diamondbacks are on the bottom half of major-league payrolls.

Two years ago, both the Rangers and the Diamondbacks had seasons where they lost more than 100 games, which is far more than half of their games. That they could make it to the World Series is too improbable.

Is this proof of the power of positive thinking?

After all, the players and the rest of the organization emphasized how they believed in themselves and each other. There might be something to it.

What would have been a reasonable goal? Maybe finishing with as many wins as losses.

As the Diamondbacks came closer to winning the National League pennant, one sports media personality, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, promised to “retire on the spot” if they actually won. That promise devolved down to wearing a Diamondback bikini through the streets of New York City (he should have picked Philadelphia, but that would have shown real courage).

Reactions from the teams differed. The Rangers, who were going to play in their first World Series since they became a franchise in 1961 as the Washington Senators, were ignoring the naysayers. The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, said they were keeping “receipts.”

How it turned out

Both longshot teams couldn’t win. The series ended with Texas Rangers winning four games to the Diamondbacks one, concluding on November 1. Both teams kept at it until the final out was recorded. Diamondbacks starter Zac Gallen pitched a perfect game through six innings. Rangers starter fended off five different incidents where the Snakes had runners in scoring position.

Positive thinking and you

When you go to sleep, you’ve got time to think. For many people, this time alone with their thoughts, with themselves, is something akin to torture. They torture themselves with doubt and worry.

New thought advocates like Napolean Hill, Louise Hay, proponents of the Law of Attraction, and certain Christian preachers (especially ones who get lumped in as preaching the “Gospel of Prosperity“) emphasize the power of thinking positively. If you believe you can, you can, they say.

How to think about things at bedtime

Is the answer to suppress doubt?

Is it to make yourself believe what isn’t true (or isn’t true yet)?

Looking at the improbable, magic season for both the Rangers and Diamondbacks, there’s no evidence of that.

It seems to be planning, acting on those plans, and getting lucky sometimes.

Buried in the details of the season are a lot of decisions and key acquisitions. Rangers owner emphasized how key acquisitions built his club. The same was true for the Diamondbacks. When the Diamondbacks got Paul Sewald from the Mariners, the bullpen got better overnight.

Then they had to decide to release Madison Bumgardner. Acquired in 2019 from the San Francisco Giants, Bumgardner had an illustrious career. For Arizona, however, he resisted suggestions from pitching coaches on how to adjust his delivery. In start after start, he got hit up early in the game.

The team had $34 million left to pay on Bumgardner’s remaining contract, but team leadership had to make a tough decision. They had to ignore the sunk cost fallacy.

Another tough decision was letting shortstop Nick Ahmed go too.

You’re going to make key acquisitions of people and parts, too.

You’re going to have to say goodbye to what’s not working for you, too.

We could go on and on about different pieces that the Diamondbacks had to do to get to the World Series. We could similarly write about the Rangers. Both of those teams are organizations. You’re going to have to find success or failure as part of an organization too, as part of a workplace or as a family.

Positive thinking types are going to go on and on about how you’ve got to think positively, how you’re going to have to imagine you can before you do.

They’re not wrong.

Yet, there’s so much more you’ve got to do.

None of it happens as if by magic. That’s dishonest, especially if they bring God into it.

It starts with positive thinking, but it doesn’t end there.

Indeed, if you never believe you can do it, you never will. You have to entertain the thought at least that you can.

But believing you can, imagining you can, is just a first step. From there, you’ve got to make all kinds of tough decisions and key acquisitions. Then occasionally you’ve got to get lucky and/or trust God. There’s no way to see how everything can or will work out.

Further reading on the blog:

The Osteens Are An Antidote To Oppressive Realism

Law of Attraction Not Working For You? Clues As To Why May Be In Your Dream Journal

Key Lessons From “The Miracle Morning” Book Series

Put a Series of Dreams Together to Understand What’s Going On


James Cobb, RN, MSN is the founder of the Dream Recovery System, a website dedicated to improving the ability to sleep and to the power of dream journaling. Bedtime thoughts frame dreams and dreams frame our lives.

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