There was an interview with Jimmy Iovine in the latest issue of Esquire and I was once again struck by the fact that I don't think like successful people. Successful people acknowledge challenges, but they see the opportunities that come with those challenges. They also learn a lot, from both people and experiences. "Think and Grow Rich" is the name of a famous self-help guide, one that has been mocked by many who discount the entire "positive thinking" movement. But there really is a different mindset that successful people have.
I just don't know if you can learn it. The best example of how difficult changing your outlook permanently comes from the Seinfeld episode "The Opposite." In this episode, George, after a series of especially painful setbacks, decides to do the opposite of what his instincts tell him to do. It gets him a date with a beautiful girl and a dream job with the Yankees. But George can't even maintain this new way of thinking over the course of the episode and we never see Opposite George again. This despite all the proven benefits.
I'm positive that positive thinking pays off. I'm just not positive that most people can do it.