While it is absolutely true to say that positive thinking is not about solving problems, there is no doubt that a bit of the first contributes to good outcomes for the second. I mean, a person with problems who uses positive thinking has more chance of dealing with the problems in a better way. Notice I said “dealing,” which is rather different to “solving.” So why is positive thinking not about solving problems, if that is the case?
Take positive thinking and place it in the context of how a person behaves in life. This person, the positive thinker, will see the glass as half full, never half empty. When confronted by some disaster or trauma, a positive thinker will tell him or herself that it could be worse, and then commence to count their blessings. They will always try to think the best of other people and to see something good in difficult situations. Positive thinking is linked to an optimistic outlook on life, where negativity can be overcome by taking a totally positive approach. As Abba once sang, “Something good in everything I see.”
Thinking positive does of course, lead to positive action. And positive action can almost always contribute to the solving of problems. That is probably why confusion arises, and along with it, the belief that positive thinking is about solving problems. To be fair, there is an indirect link. I have to say that I do not know any positive thinkers who simply stop at thinking, especially in a crisis. An example here might serve to illustrate how I believe this works.
Our positive thinker here, with an optimistic outlook, goes for a job interview and performs quite well. Unfortunately, they do not get the job, but with positive thinking, they are pleased to have got as far as an interview, against a high number of applicants. They think they have done well, but take positive action to learn from the experience, in order to do better next time. The action involved is to ask for constructive feedback, in order to address any deficits in their interview performance, gaps in their CV, skills lack, and so on. The feedback helps to identify a problem, the person takes steps to address it, and so moves towards problem solving.
The two issues of positive thinking and problem solving are separate, yet often become intertwined. Anyone can use positive thinking, without always feeling the need to solve problems. Some problems cannot be solved, but the positive thinker will find a way of dealing with them. Which is why positive thinking is not about solving problems. But it sure helps.