Positive Thinking Garbage
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15-06-2013, 01:50 AM
Positive Thinking Garbage
Basically, in my experience, most, if not all, blind optimists/positive thinkers have had incredibly pampered lives. If they knew what it was like to fail or be miserable, they wouldn't spout hollow platitudes along the lines of "I just choose to be happy!"

I've written two reviews on related books on Amazon.com -

http://www.amazon.com/review/RWDA4P5BC0D...hisHelpful

The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

Quote:My father forced me to listen to this drivel for weeks on end when I was 12. Even then, I did not find the ideas in this book the least bit persuasive or helpful.

One of Peale's friends is quoted as saying "Every day when I wake up I realise I have a choice. I can be happy or unhappy. So what do I do? I'm not dumb. I just CHOOSE to be happy." What nonsense. I am reminded of a particularly callous sermon I had the misfortune of listening to in Japan back in 2010, where a pampered pastor described the Haiti earthquake victims as happy. If they were so happy, why were they collecting money for them? How someone can live with such blatant mountains of cognitive dissonance is simultaneously disturbing and infuriating.

Peale's friend could easily be shown the error of his ways by someone with more life experience. If I knew someone like that, I would punch him until he realised that happiness is not something that can be "chosen." We would not need psychologists, psychiatrists or people willing to listen and help each other if happiness was that simple. NVP tries to strengthen this platitude with another from former US President Lincoln: "People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be." What nonsense. All this shows is that even charismatic leaders can be incredibly shallow at times.

NVP trots out prayer and dependence on Jesus as a solution (when in actual fact, it is the calming of one's mind that actually helps, not the prayer itself). This is nonsense, as numerous prayer studies and the utter dearth of regenerated amputees has already demonstrated.

If you want your life to improve, go out there and do something to make things better. Don't expect this travesty of a book or wishful thinking to do it for you.

http://www.amazon.com/review/R1T8K4F7UEN...hisHelpful

Smile or Die by Barbara Ehrenreich

Quote:Barbara's fractally correct in every possible way here; one simply *cannot* choose to be happy. We would all be better off if we dismissed this blatant lie touted by Norman Vincent Peale.

She shows how right-wing demagogues often cite pithy positive thinking platitudes as an attempt to blame those in perpetual poverty. And as we all know, those who fail to "will" the cancer away are never the subject of happy positive thinking books. And perhaps worst of all, positive thinking removes all motivation to improve societies and living conditions. External conditions are almost always dismissed by these gurus and charlatans.

Reading Smile or Die, I was reminded of a horribly callous sermon in Japan, where the pastor extolled the benefits of frugality and unequivocally spoke out against materialism. For his example du jour, he cited victims of the Haiti earthquake and how "happy" they were. Really? Is that the best they can do? If I lost everything and everyone I held dear in an earthquake, smiling might be the only way I could cope. It most certainly would not be a sign of happiness or satisfaction after going through such a grueling natural disaster.

Positive thinking has a horrible dark side that would lead to the instant dismissal of any doctor who prescribed positivity in lieu of radiotherapy for cancer. As anyone with any experience with the bile that Pollyannas spew forth on a daily basis, one of their implied mantras is "if you fail, it's your own fault." Spare me, please.

The author's research is impeccable. She unearths the deadly, fatalistic roots of positive thinking that came from the Calvinist branch of Christianity. Every word is enlightening and well worth reading.

Barbara ends this book with a clarion call to reason, citing some of the most cruel, heartless and ignorant consequences of positive thinking, including that of Rhonda Byrne, who claimed that tsunamis could only happen to those who are "on the same frequency as the event."

Everyone who has been deceived by positivity needs to read this book.
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15-06-2013, 02:18 AM
RE: Positive Thinking Garbage
As somebody who has suffered from depression I have to disagree with you.

Of course things are not going to just come to you or fall into your lap, however your mindset will have an influence on what does. Im not saying your opinion is "wrong" as it isn't (to you) however I think some people do need to apply more positivity to their lifes as a general outlook if they wish to enjoy "happiness"

It is also up to the individual. If somebody wishes to think positive thoughts even in the face of overwhelming odds then that is up to them. If people would rather die with a smile on their face rather than to give up at the last hurdle then that is up to them, no matter we think.

With regards to mindsets that I mentioned earlier then its up to people how they see situations. If you think negatively then mostly only negative things will happen, if anything happens at all. However to see things in a positive light may lead to positive actions and also to see more positive ways of doing things for your own particular life.

There has been studies in the past that have shown that people who have "faith" in their healing/treatments have actually done better than people who havent. Yes that faith has sometimes been in "god" however seeing as I dont believe god exists in the way that these people believe I do think that this "faith" has somehow managed to help them recover as it is a positive mindset.

Our thoughts lead to actions.

For no matter how much I use these symbols, to describe symptoms of my existence.
You are your own emphasis.
So I say nothing.

-Bemore.
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15-06-2013, 06:33 AM
RE: Positive Thinking Garbage
I appreciate your rejoinder, bemore. I must disagree with your assessment of depression and how it relates to positive thinking. I have been depressed to the point of suicide attempts several times when I was in high school. Platitudes only make things worse.

While cognitive therapy has been proven to help, it cannot change moods alone. If it really was that simple, we wouldn't need anti-depressants.

I must also say this: I find your blase, dismissive attitude offensive. It's tantamount to claiming that the Haiti earthquake victims were happy even though they had just lost pretty much everything they ever owned.





(I'm on about 36 minutes in)
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15-06-2013, 08:18 AM
RE: Positive Thinking Garbage
(15-06-2013 06:33 AM)AyameTan Wrote:  I must also say this: I find your blase, dismissive attitude offensive. It's tantamount to claiming that the Haiti earthquake victims were happy even though they had just lost pretty much everything they ever owned.

You seem obsessed with this Haiti sermon and you seem to use it as some sort of stereotypical example to paint the rest of the world (including myself) with. Not very fair I must say.

So you think because I have my own opinion that I have only really just skirted over is blase, dismissive and offensive? Would you care to break down my last statement and elaborate on how they are such things?

(15-06-2013 06:33 AM)AyameTan Wrote:  (I'm on about 36 minutes in)

Haiti.........Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

O.K.... so you dont like positive thinking, what would you say should be a suitable replacement to it??? If I said to you that I was using positive thinking, and you told me to stop. What advice would you give me?

For no matter how much I use these symbols, to describe symptoms of my existence.
You are your own emphasis.
So I say nothing.

-Bemore.
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15-06-2013, 09:04 AM
RE: Positive Thinking Garbage
A professor once told me "you can cry at a funeral or laugh. The choice is yours."


I have found myself comforted by these words usually at the most trying times in my life.

It's the choice of viewing the world with pessimism or optimism.

depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain-not just a person being 'moody'.

I would think some people in Haiti did celebrate, even though their island was wrecked, for the simple fact that they just survived. At moments like that losing "things" doesn't matter, life is what matters.


"Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing"--Helen Keller
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15-06-2013, 09:45 AM
RE: Positive Thinking Garbage
There seem to be two (different) levels that are being entangled here.

There are positive health effects for having a positive outlook, for being reasonable optimistic. And there are positive psychological effects that will reflect in our behaviors and can affect outcomes by our actions.

Then there's the utter woo crap like Rhonda Byrne and her ilk spread about.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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15-06-2013, 11:37 AM
RE: Positive Thinking Garbage
I don't know if any of you have read Augusten Burroughs This is How: Help for the Self Proven Aid in Overcoming and More. This is an excerpt from his book and this is how I feel about almost all self help books. I encourage you to read the excerpt. It's rich.

http://www.npr.org/books/titles/15289920...terhood-gr

In the excerpt he references this article from the BBC entitled "Self help makes you feel worse".


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8132857.stm

For the last three years my world was turned upside down with an avalanche of one bad event after another. My father died, my sister completely cut me off and stopped talking to me and six months later my 18 year old son told me he was transgender and then he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. At about the same time my 16 year old daughter started dating a boy from an extremely fundamentalist christian family that created monsters in all five of their children. The boy she dated liked to kill small animals and hit her. At 16 she didn't want to communicate with any adult especially her parents.

There is no god damned way positive thinking was going to change the situation. As a matter of fact positive thinking just made me feel far worse. Positive thoughts actually sickened me. Positives made a denial of what was actually going on and it seemed to enabled more problems to occur.

The way I got through this was the realization that bad things happen in life. There is no rhyme nor reason for it. It definitely isn't caused by some god nor will it be reversed by a god. Like they say, "shit happens." I also realized that the world is always in a state of flux and everything changes with time.

My son, now daughter, it turns out did not have schizophrenia and my other daughter finally broke up with the boy. It took her 3 years to figure it out but she finally did it. My father is now part of my memories, my sister still hasn't spoken to me but that may change sometime down the road, if it doesn't, so be it.

While in the depth of despair ranting and raving made me feel much, much better. It didn't change anything but it released the pain. Positive thinking didn't do squat.

Shakespeare Insult 13 – Henry IV Part 1
“That trunk of humours, that bolting-hutch of beastliness, that swollen parcel of dropsies, that huge bombard of sack, that stuffed cloak-bag of guts, that reverend vice, that grey Iniquity, that father ruffian, that vanity in years?”
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15-06-2013, 07:55 PM
RE: Positive Thinking Garbage
(15-06-2013 08:18 AM)bemore Wrote:  You seem obsessed with this Haiti sermon and you seem to use it as some sort of stereotypical example to paint the rest of the world (including myself) with. Not very fair I must say.

You said it yourself: "It is also up to the individual. If somebody wishes to think positive thoughts even in the face of overwhelming odds then that is up to them. If people would rather die with a smile on their face rather than to give up at the last hurdle then that is up to them, no matter we think."

From my experience, a realistic attitude is far more beneficial than a paradigm of sunshine and rainbows. Barbara Ehrenreich goes into much more detail in her book Bright-sided: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World.

(15-06-2013 08:18 AM)bemore Wrote:  So you think because I have my own opinion that I have only really just skirted over is blase, dismissive and offensive? Would you care to break down my last statement and elaborate on how they are such things?

I just did. You ignored every external influence on happiness (poverty, peer pressure, bullying etc) and blamed anyone who isn't happy for not being happy.

(15-06-2013 08:18 AM)bemore Wrote:  O.K.... so you dont like positive thinking, what would you say should be a suitable replacement to it??? If I said to you that I was using positive thinking, and you told me to stop. What advice would you give me?

I would tell you to weigh the pros and cons of every situation and make a rational, accurate decision based on the data.
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15-06-2013, 08:06 PM
RE: Positive Thinking Garbage
My problem with it is when people attribute magical qualities to being positive, like the universe can figure it out and will do you favors.

No one is arguing that you make friends by being an asshole to everyone, or that complete negativity in all things is a great thing. But there are certainly times it doesn't make sense to be positive.

Quote:As somebody who has suffered from depression I have to disagree with you.
As someone with bipolar (and one of those polarities is depression) I have to agree with the OP. You don't cure depression simply by thinking happy thoughts. If you did, no one would be depressed.

Quote:There has been studies in the past that have shown that people who have "faith" in their healing/treatments have actually done better than people who havent.
I'd say that sounds more like the placebo effect. They expect a thing to work, so it does. It's not because they are thinking happy thoughts about it, it's because they see a thing as a treatment and expect to improve.
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15-06-2013, 08:20 PM
RE: Positive Thinking Garbage
I don't agree that the "power of positive thinking" is crap.

I find if you go into anything in life with a positive attitude it affects how you work, what you see, and how you act, and will give you a more positive outcome as a result.
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