What you focus on expands - positive approach to life

positive approach to life

I recently had conversations with a few people that are having money problems. Most of them were facing some sort of financial debt. When I talked to them, all they talked about was how much debt they are in and that they want to get rid of their debt as quickly as possible. Every other sentence seems to be related to debt, or how debt has impacted their quality of life. It became obvious that they would enjoy a better life if they were debt-free.

While there's nothing wrong with having debt and wanting to get rid of them... I believe there's a better approach.

Have you heard the phrase "what you focus on expands?"

I used to be a doubter on the above statement but now I'm a true believer. I believe that being positive mentally and using positive words, will help attract positive things in my life. Having a positive approach to life is very important.

Ever wonder why people say: "words of affirmation is a very powerful tool?" Simply, because what you focus on expands. Words of affirmation allows you to keep focusing on the things you want to achieve in life. If you believe in something and focus on it, your mind will put all the energy, consciously and subconsciously, to make this happen. Furthermore, the universe will bend over backwards to help you achieving your goals.

How does this have anything to do with debt? 

Many people who are deep in debt, are not thinking about savings and putting money aside for their retirement. They are focused on getting rid of their debt. They are focusing on paying off their debt first before they start saving. Perhaps a better approach is to focus on savings first (meaning you pay yourself first). Learn the most important personal finance skill - how to manage you money. By managing your money properly and saving a certain percentage of your income each month, your savings will grow. You can use the savings to become debt-free. Perhaps it's putting one dollar aside each day, or allocate 5% of your income toward savings. Whichever way you decide, it's important to develop a system and to stick with it. It's also important to have a budget system. Having a budget system means you can understand what's coming into your bank account, and what's causing money to leave your bank account. This is a very important knowledge to have in order to become financially successful. If you have no clue that you're spending your money on, how do you plan to save for the future or become debt-free? This is the premise of living below your means. The concept is simple and can be achieved very easily, as long as you have a money management system and stick with it.

Some people may read this and start saying "but I don't have any money to save, what do I do?"

Well, you most likely have a pay cheque, don't you? You need to start managing your money even before you have it, or else you will never have any. 

Please repeat the above statement again if you don't understand how important it is.


Speaking of looking at things from a positive approach, compare the following phrases that I hear all the time:

Q: "How are you doing?"

A: "I'm not bad, not bad at all."

"I'm tired all the time because I go to bed late."

"I'm always late for my appointments."

"I'm flat out broke."

"I have a third date curse." -> This is for Henry at Living at Home. 😉


Did I just say that what you focus on expands? Why not put a positive spin instead?

Q: "How are you doing?"

A: "I'm doing great!"

"I feel energized, I always go to bed early."

"I'm always early for my appointments."

"I'm saving one dollar every day for my bright financial future."

"I look forward to the 10th date with this wonderful girl I'm seeing."

"I manage my money successfully."


See how a little difference in wording can change how you view things? When did it become fashionable and cool to use double negatives? 


Do you know how powerful our minds work? Here's a good personal example:

Mrs. T and I started talking about our "perfect" house probably 3 or so years ago. We talked about how we wanted a house with a creative room so Mrs. T can sew and paint and I can do my photography work. We wanted a den room close to the house entrance, away from the living quarter so Mrs. T can use it for her business. We wanted a cozy family room, no formal living room and formal dining room as we think they are wasted space. We also focused on a gourmet kitchen and most importantly, a yard that Mrs. T can create her perfect kitchen garden in. We even clipped some photos from magazines that resembled what we had in mind so we could visualize what our "perfect" house would look like one day. We had these clippings on a board that we called dream board and looked at them every so often.

Years later we started looking for a house. It took us over a year to find a house that we liked (we were looking off and on). After moving to our current house, one night Mrs. T and I were unpacking our dream board clippings and started talking about what we wanted in our perfect house back then. This is when we realized that we're already living in our perfect house. We have somehow manifested our perfect house. Isn't it funny how things work?

Don't believe this stuff works? Here's another personal example:

At beginning of each year, Mrs. T and I sit down and set our net worth and annual dividend goals together. We set reasonable but challenging numbers. Once we set the goals, we write them down and visualize them in our minds. We visualize how happy we will be at end of the year when we achieve these goals. Next we completely detach ourselves from these goals. It will be wonderful if we achieve these goals but we will not feel devastated if we don't. Emotionally we are no longer tied to these goals that we want to achieve. Whenever we update our net worth every quarter we will look at these numbers and then visualize how happy we will be when we achieve these goals at end of the year. It's amazing how much our net worth and dividend goals have grown over the past few years and our results have been higher than our goals.

Positive approach works. It will also make you happier overall.


By now you're probably wondering how to do this. Here's a simple step by step guide.

First step is to take action and become aware what you are saying.

Recognize what you're saying every day. If you're using negative words or phrases, or using double negatives so you can pretend to be a hipster, change it. Force yourself to say "delete" or "cancel" even if you may look and sound weird to other people, and say the same sentence again but with a positive approach.

Ask your families, friends, or even co-workers to remind you if you use any negative words in your sentences. Quite often we are so used to using negative words or double negatives we don't even realize ourselves.

Once you're aware of your words and actions, you're already more than half way toward being positive!

Next step is to practice and practice and practice (cue the Allen Iverson practice clip). Be consistent.

Having a positive approach to life is a continuous practice. Keep working at it. Make it a daily routine.


Another tip, tomorrow when you wake up and get on the floor, state this to yourself:

"I love my life! I'm awesome!"

Notice how wonderful and awesome that feels and how great your day will be. And keep doing it.

Stay positive!


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  • Reply
    March 30, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    I focus on my net worth and my net worth expands. The universe works in some really awesome ways and the law of attraction is one of them. 🙂
    We have to be stay awesome and think positively. 😀 It's like that song in the Lego Movie. I just picture Emmet singing it whenever I need to feel motivated.

    "Have you heard the news, everyone's talking
    Life is good 'cause everything's awesome
    Lost my job, it's a new opportunity
    More free time for my awesome community
    Blue skies, bouncy springs
    We just named two awesome things
    A Nobel prize, a piece of string
    You know what's awesome? EVERYTHING!"

    • Reply
      April 1, 2015 at 2:55 pm

      What's a great song to have in mind to stay awesome and positive. Everything is awesome! 😀

  • Reply
    Mr Zombie
    March 30, 2015 at 11:52 pm

    It's all about motivation and staying positive. If you sit around expecting all the bad things to happen one of them eventually will and you will then feel that you were right to think negatively. When in all likelihood something rough is going to happen at some point. In focusing on the negative you've missed all the awesomeness that's happened. People have said it's easy for you to stay positive ad nothing seems to go wrong. Of course things go wrong you muppet but we have to just crack on with it.

    • Reply
      April 1, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      Hi Mr. Zombie,

      You're totally right. If you focus on the negatives, they will most likely to happen. When that happens you end up saying "see I was right about being negative." Why not turn it the other way and focus on the positives instead?

  • Reply
    Income Surfer
    March 31, 2015 at 4:31 am

    Thanks for sharing Tawcan. The law of attraction is a powerful one. I have always sought balance, but not always been successful in achieving it. Just imagine what the human race can do once we unlock our minds and step out of fear 🙂 Have a great week!

    • Reply
      April 1, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      Hi Bryan,

      It's easier said than done. Like I said, it's a continuous practice each day to stay positive.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2015 at 6:28 am

    Great post, Tawcan.
    I totally agree that what you focus on expands. A few years ago, I used to be stressed about my financial situation with the thoughts of whether I would have enough for retirement keeping me up at night (yeah I was worried about that kind of stuff in my 20s), but I decided that I'd rather focus on improving my knowledge and working on better investments and focusing on increasing my passive income - and that has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. Great post...thanks for sharing.


    • Reply
      April 1, 2015 at 2:58 pm

      Hi R2R,

      I have to admit, sometimes I get a little worked up about our financial situation as well. I think that's a human nature... having said that Mrs. T is great to remind me how well we're doing and to have a positive mindset. It's an on-going practice.

  • Reply
    Dividend Hustler
    March 31, 2015 at 7:00 am

    Great article Tawcan. Positive thinking is critical in achieving great results and overcoming any problems that will arise. I know in order to be successful, we must conquer our own minds first. Life's so short to not be positive. Keep up the hustle and wish us happiness and health! Take care bud.

    • Reply
      April 1, 2015 at 2:59 pm

      Hi Dividend Hustler,

      If you are always negative throughout your life, your life may be pretty miserable. It's best to conquer our own minds and be happy with ourselves.

  • Reply
    Get Rich Brothers
    March 31, 2015 at 8:08 am


    Great post. I'm a firm believer in the notion that what we say and think literally defines who we are and what we become.

    It really irks me to hear when people mutter, "I'm such an idiot!" when they make a mistake. The energy they're costing themselves is considerable.

    I love reading Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, and other classics which expand on this thought process.

    Take care,
    - Ryan from GRB

    • Reply
      April 1, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      Hi Ryan,

      Sounds like we think alike. Everything is energy, whatever you put out will return back to you eventually. Good example on stating being an idiot... if you say it enough times, your mind starts believing it subconsciously and will make all the effort to make mistakes.

  • Reply
    Adam @ AdamChudy.com
    March 31, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Always better to focus on reinforcing the positives that shaming yourself for the negatives. That just leads to a downward spiral.

    • Reply
      April 1, 2015 at 3:01 pm

      Hi Adam,

      That downward spiral never ends. It just goes deeper and deeper. It's better to be on the upward side.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    I'm a huge fan of behavioral analysis like this and you put together a fantastic post here. I wasn't always a positive person, but I've really grown into one over the last few years and am seeing so much more progress on all my life's goals. Now to start dreaming about a house like you have....hehe. Thank you for writing this wonderful article 🙂

    • Reply
      April 1, 2015 at 3:02 pm

      Hi Ryan,

      Definitely start dreaming and visualizing a dream house. 😀

  • Reply
    March 31, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    With positive attitudes and positive thinking, the outcome will be positive. I heard so much negativity at work as well, regarding debt and how hard their work is. I just block my hearing and developed a selective hearing ability 🙂 I block all the negativity and ignore it, just focus on the bright side. It works!

    Have a good day Tawcan!

    • Reply
      April 1, 2015 at 3:03 pm

      Hi FrugalityToFinancialFreedom,

      Hearing negative things only bring us down. That's why we also avoid reading news now. A selective hearing is an excellent ability to develop. 🙂

  • Reply
    Mrs. Maroon
    March 31, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    "I love my life! I'm awesome!"
    Good first words for the morning. Nice reminder for those that fall into the negative camp way too often (slowly raising my hand here...) Thanks!!

    • Reply
      April 1, 2015 at 3:04 pm

      Hi Mrs. Maroon,

      Those are awesome words to say to yourself first thing in the morning. I generally stay those to myself in the shower. 🙂

  • Reply
    M from theresvalue
    April 1, 2015 at 12:28 am

    I loved it when you said just add delete or cancel - one of my colleagues actually tells himself to SHUT UP if he realises he's complaining

    • Reply
      April 1, 2015 at 3:04 pm

      Hi M,

      I've went through a week without complaining before. It was amazing how much better that week was.

  • Reply
    April 1, 2015 at 10:38 am

    I couldnt agree more with your post. So many people talk or convince themselves into failure.

    Everyday I will assign myself a small goal and achieve it the first thing in the morning. I find doing so it will snowball into other goals and by the end of the day I have achieved a few todo items and sets me up for the next day as their is always something to do!

    • Reply
      April 1, 2015 at 3:05 pm

      Hi Asset-Grinder,

      Setting small goal each day is a wonderful way to make sure you achieve something positive. Once you get a nice streak things just get better and better.

  • Reply
    Dividend Gremlin
    April 1, 2015 at 1:52 pm


    Read your post the other day, then got busy doing something (dammit work). I totally agree, with the positive premise. I also agree that you do not need to just get rid of debt, saving and investing is a huge part of the same puzzle. With my new car I plan to pay it faster than expected, but I am not mad or resentful of it.

    Always appreciate your good reads,

    • Reply
      April 1, 2015 at 3:06 pm

      Hi Gremlin,

      Funny how work gets into our way right? No wonder so many of us want to become financially free. Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.

  • Reply
    April 1, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    The power of positivity is pretty amazing. Of course the same for negativity. It's all in what you decide to focus on because I've noticed that what you put out is what you get back. If you're constantly dishing out positive vibes others will want to be around you and give you positive vibes and the cycle just builds on itself.

    • Reply
      April 6, 2015 at 1:52 pm

      Hi JC,

      What you put out you definitely get back.... sometimes 10x more. It's important to give out positive vibes.

  • Reply
    April 2, 2015 at 5:27 am

    Great post Tawcan.

    I'm mostly a positive and optimistic person and I think I've become more so as I've gotten older, in particular this past year, perhaps because I have a 'plan' now!

    Switching my focus to what makes me happy has helped a lot too.

    There are some people at work who I try to avoid talking to for any length of time because they are so negative and even my own positiveness can't penetrate their 'wall of doom!"

    If they're not negative about work, then it's negativity about their private lives and that does appear to be all that they focus on.

    • Reply
      April 6, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      Hi weenie,

      Definitely a good point on avoid negative people. You end up being dragged down to the same level as them when you're around them. Feeling negative about yourself and life isn't a good feeling to have.

  • Reply
    April 2, 2015 at 5:40 am

    Hi Tawcan

    Bingo there. Habits are there for life.

    A young investor should first be focusing on that and wealth accumulation will naturally follows. It seems rather odd but the journey to wealth isn't that complicated to begin with. Some people just need to focus on the right path and action and the results will follow.

    • Reply
      April 6, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      Hi B,

      Once you're on the right path and stays on the right path, you will get to the final destination for sure. The only question is when. But that's better than not getting to the destination at all because you're on the wrong path.

  • Reply
    FI Fighter
    April 2, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Positive thinking does make a huge difference. These days, I'm trying to apply all that magic to health. When I first started early FI, I told myself daily that each day I was getting a little better. So far, so good. I'm also a firm believer that you gotta take things one step at a time.

    • Reply
      April 6, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      Hi FI Fighter,

      Having a positive mindset when it comes to health is very important. Your mind is very powerful. If you convince your mind that you're a sick person your mind will do everything it can to make you a sick person.

  • Reply
    Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank
    April 3, 2015 at 1:04 am

    This past few days, I focused on how I could get another source of income for me to boost my long-term savings and to upgrade my travel plan because I want to go overseas. Being a positive thinker, I looked for ways like applying and getting strategies like cutting my cable line and changing my grocery list. This really excites, Tawcan, because I just started and I think I can really achieve my goals (being a positive thinker), if done consistently.

    • Reply
      April 6, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      Hi Jayson,

      Looking for ways to help generating more income from a positive point of view is great. Thanks for providing some examples.

  • Reply
    April 3, 2015 at 7:30 am

    I totally agree with you Tawcan. Positive minds can truly change the future. I find most of successful people are positive and have can-do attitude. We can do it. Tawcan. We truly can!


    • Reply
      April 6, 2015 at 1:57 pm

      Hi BSR,

      If we all be more positive, the world will be a better place. Let's do that together.

  • Reply
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    April 4, 2015 at 5:06 am

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  • Reply
    April 4, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Hey TC;

    I focus on my debt paying down some each month.
    As it is a HELOC I hope to expand it when my preferred stocks slump.
    Paying down my HELOC gives more room to expand when the time is right.
    You are right. A postive attitude is good. LOL

    • Reply
      April 6, 2015 at 1:57 pm

      Hi Ricardo,

      Stay positive! 🙂

  • Reply
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