Positive Thinking

I’ve been reading a bunch on Barbara Ehrenreich. She’s written a book on how horrible positive thinking is. Now RSA has done this very cool “animated” videos of various “expert” talks. One of them is … yes Ehrenreich. I watched it last night.

Oh you want to see it too? Here.

All right, now you’ve seen it. There was some good stuff in there. Some. Like the crazy lady from the Secret. I sat for like 20 minutes last night reading the comments.

But I take issue with her blaming positive thinking on the bank disasters and Iraq War. People were not fired for “not thinking positively” they were fired for speaking out against greed and false evidence. Maybe under the guise of positive thinking but come on lady. The whole housing bubble, sub-prime mortgage stuff happened out pure greed of the bankers.

Positive thinking is not ignoring the bad stuff that is happening. It’s not just sitting around and wishing for things to happen, knowing they will come to you if you just focus your mind.

It’s positive thinking AND positive action. If you don’t action, then your thoughts can’t come to fruition. (Tho there are people who claim to have gotten shit just by thinking about it. Have they? Well who knows? Some of these people have made a ton of money hocking the positive thinking aspect-  very few of them talk about the WORK side).

All the positive thinking in the world won’t get me a good job, a house or anything else on it’s own. That’s what the lazy people want to think. But, what’s wrong with putting good thoughts out there while looking for a job or my dream house?

I focus my thoughts on selling lots of my books. Has it happened? No. Does that mean I should stop focusing my positive energy on it? No. Does my hopes that I’ll sell lots of books mean that I can sit back and wait? No.

I’m realistic. I may never make my only paycheck be writing. I will keep working on it and thinking positively about it.

Ms. Ehrenreich was diagnosed with breast cancer and told to “see it as a gift”. Now that’s a hard pill to swallow, but often cancer patients take the cancer as a time to slow down, reconnect with family, do things they love. There can be a “bright” side of everything. Even cancer.

And really who needs to see the bright side of things more than a cancer patient. It would be REALLy easy to fall into depression and stop caring about life. Doesn’t mean you should not seek out treatment and listen to your doctor and all the rest of it.

And we do see what we focus on. If I think I’m lucky, then I will find luck. If I think life stinks and people all suck, I can find evidence of that.

Another thing that positive thinkers believe is that all your thoughts have to be positive. If you have a negative thought than it’s terrible and your a bad positive thinker.

Wrong. We have thoughts all the time. We have “good” thoughts and “bad” thoughts. What I mean by good is thoughts that make us happy- like cute puppies and smiling babies; bad thoughts make us sad or angry.It depends on what we choose to believe. You can have a bad thought and look at it and say “oh bad thought” and then that thought is replaced by something else.

Say someone cuts you off in traffic. What story do you tell yourself? That guy is an inconsiderate jerk and he nearly caused an accident and blah blah blah. Right? What if I told you that he was late for his son’s soccer game or no, his son was rushed to the emergency room? Would you have some sympathy for him? Probably.

Do we know why he cut you off? No. You’ll never know. I still hold a grudge against a guy who passed me and then drove just under the speed limit in front of me because I was driving about 2 km/h over not 1o or 15 over.

So, when you get cut off in traffic you can think “that jerk,” while fuming the whole way to your destination or you can say “oh, that guy is in a hurry, I’m just glad he didn’t cause an accident now I’m going to continue my nice drive” and turn up your favorite song and forget about the whole thing.

Which sounds like a more peaceful experience?

So next time you have a thought that makes you sad or mad, remember it’s just a thought. It’s probably not even a true thought. And watch it walk away and be replaced by the next one.

As with everything, balance between positive thinking, realism and actual work is the key.

I’m hoping they do some actual studies on positive thinking or how thoughts affect the universe. Maybe I’m  crazy, but I do believe there is an energy that binds us all and we can affect that energy.

With that, I have a crappy novel to write.  Or more RSA videos to watch. they are pretty good.

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Filed under culture, emotions, happiness, life, mood, personal, power, rants

3 responses to “Positive Thinking

  1. I’m with Ehrenreich, though I haven’t read that particular book. Positive thinking has become another new-age religion in this country, a substanceless cliche, another way of dumbing-down amerikans and dismissing people’s legitimate hardships as simply a failure of “positive thinking.”

  2. Pingback: Barbara Ehrenreich on Positive Thinking… « Under The LobsterScope

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