Positively Nuts

 

The power of positive thought is nothing new. 

Image
 
It is a multi-billion dollar a year industry in America. 

Plato held that the realm of ideas is more real than that of matter.

I have been reading that the scientific empiricism and religious skepticism of the 17th and 18th centuries led to a backlash called “New Thought”.  A gentleman by the name of Phineas P. Quimby is often credited as the earliest proponent but before you turned around twice Mary Baker Eddy was founding “Christian Science” and the New Thought movement became the philosophical Hula Hoop of the 1860s. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_New_Thought
 
During the great depression two books of the same vein were published, “How to win Friends and Influence People” ( Dale Carnegie-1936) and “Think and Grow Rich” (Napoleon Hill-1937).  With life turning to crap for so many it must have been hopeful to believe turning your life around was a self help book away. 

New Age Aquarian philosophy has embraced many of the tenants of New Thought along with the kitchen sink:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Age

Quite naturally a backlash is forming and a new book “Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America” is the tip of the counterblast.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/jan/10/smile-or-die-barbara-ehrenreich
 
I wish life came in ribbon wrapped Oprah packages. 

It doesn’t.   I declare this a new age of unreason. 

Magical thinking is “real purty”.  Telling people with cancer they caused it is not.  Telling the desperately poor they alone are responsible for their situation is not.  There is a line forming to punch zealous advocates of positive thinking in the nose. 

 To be fair this is a complex issue and there are wonderful things about a positive upbeat attitude, self confidence and seeing the glass half full.   Because it is a complex issue reducing it to bumper stickers and becoming an ideologue, no matter how well intended, is ugly.  

Animals are (gratefully) exempt from “The Secret” and the “law of attraction” thinking.  If an animal develops serious illness no one blames the animal for negative thoughts.  No one tells the animal it called its own misfortune.  No, we love the animal and do what we can to heal it.  Bullshit is a disease reserved for the “crown of creation”.

Let me leave you with a scathing review of Oprah’s favorite book “The Secret”.  It’s worth a read:

http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2007/05/06/there-is-no-secret-the-myth-of-the-law-of-attraction/

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7 Responses to Positively Nuts

  1. Love the subject, as I’ve pondered the yin and yang of optimism / pessimism for many years. Your post pushes further contemplation.

    Isn’t much of optimism just about emphasizing and enabling what we CAN do, rather than focusing on what we can’t? Pessimistic about something? Just switch subjects to something you CAN be positive about.

    One supposes that leaders have no choice but to present as optimists, as people won’t willingly follow a pessimist.

    Unless pessimistic about a common enemy like an opposing politician, political party, or bogeyman group. Like demonized Jews, gays, or women having rights.

    So optimism continues to be successfully employed in many truly unfortunate human endeavors.

    One of the bright spots? Both extreme optimists and pessimists provide caricature entertainment fodder.

    For example, why stop at pessimism, when you can go for the gold with “catastrophic thinking”? For example, from http://goo.gl/d5qf0 on depressive realism:

    “The pain in my knee is getting worse. When I’m in a wheelchair, I won’t be able to go to work and pay the bills. So I’ll end up losing my house, living in the street, and dying of cold.’

    LOLs kill you when you can’t stop laughing. And that’s not pessimism, that’s a scientific FACT.

  2. thomassparky says:

    The power of positive thought? I think the people that promote this crap instead of lending a REAL hand to help people in need positively SUCK! Kind of like the bumper sticker says, MEAN PEOPLE SUCK!

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