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Is Positive Thinking Poisoning Our World?

February 10th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments
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I was surfing around looking for self improvement topics that would add value for my twitter peeps.  I came across an article that really made me think.  It is called “Wishing It Don’t Make it So”. In this article, about an author by the name of Barbara Ehrenreich.  The premise of the article is that positive thinking is the cause of many unnatural and “bad things” that have befallen the United States.  Wow!  Doesn’t that statement make you sit up in your chair?!

The 2nd paragraph of the article says,

“In isolation, each of these facts may cause no more than mild disquiet, a sense that the harsher realities of life are being brushed aside. In fact, as a U.S. journalist and campaigner Barbara Ehrenreich has discovered, they are all manifestations of the ubiquity of positive thinking in the United States. When she began to put the pieces together, they revealed a nation in the grip of a collective delusion that does damage to people’s lives all the way from corporate boardrooms to those struggling with house repossessions and poverty.”

The article is written about someone who is from a very liberal or progressive bias.  In this article, my understanding of the premise, is that positive thinking is a negative and leading all of us down the garden path to global destruction.  Positive thinking has become so pervasive that “Anyone who was critical or unable to “get with the plan”, was got rid of, until there were no canaries left in the mine.” In other words, positive thinking has made it impossible for whistle blowers to do what they are suppose to do.  If anyone thinks negatively, they are cast out of corporate American and treated like lepers.

I have a hard time believing that all negative people have been thrown out of corporate America or are forced to change into beams of positive light.   If you aren’t  sunshine and lollipops there is no room for you in the corporate world.  My experience in the corporate world has been that really isn’t the case.

There is nothing wrong with feeling negative thoughts in the face of cancer, job losses, illness and death of loved ones.  Those are natural emotions born of frustration and loss of control in one’s life.  Those feeling should be honored.  But, to suggest that we all walk around raging about the dirty hand that life has dealt us, over and over again, seems to be a fruitless endeavor. Isn’t there enough negatives in our lives without listening to some one else?  If I was battling breast cancer, I certainly wouldn’t want to absorb someone else’s negativity.  That wouldn’t help keep my hope alive.  Reading someone on a forum talking about “sappy pink ribbons” seems like a personal affront to the Susan G.Komen for the cure movement.

I must say, that the “thinking only positive thoughts” might be a goal of some people and is taught in the self improvement industry, it rarely happens that someone is always positive, nor should they be.  The danger of that philosophy, that we attract negative things if we think negative thoughts, is the guilt that can be felt for not thinking positive and having the negative things happen to us.  We do need to take responsibility for our own lives.  To think that everything that happens to us is random is to leave us impotent and self victimized.  Rather than feeling guilt for the maladies that befall us “due to negative thinking” it would seem more productive to watch for the lessons in life that we can learn from experiencing the negative.

The natural order of things is that there are polar differences.  For every negative, there is a positive.  By experiencing negative things we can also experience the positive.  Isn’t whether something is negative or positive a matter of perspective?  Couldn’t one person’s job loss turn into an opportunity for something better?

Even the loss of our loved ones can have blessings wrapped deep inside the feelings of sadness and grief. But, is grief really a bad thing?  It may not feel the best, but to have loved someone so much that you miss them when they are gone is not a negative thing.  We shouldn’t stop loving because we may face grief later by their loss.

Call me Pollyanna.  You wouldn’t be the first.  I would say “thank you”.  To be able to turn the darkness into light doesn’t mean that you are deranged or hopelessly maladjusted.  I say, “live and let live”.  If you wish to choose the negative, that is your choice.  I, personally would rather look for the kernels of hope…after I have railed at my misfortune.

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