User Tag List

123 Last

Results 1 to 10 of 25

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    4,226

    Default The Powerlessness of Positive Thinking

    ygolo posted a thread a few months ago called "The Poison of Positive Thinking" and what I'm going to post here is closely related. "The Poison of Positive Thinking" was an article written about the effect of unmitigated positive thinking on the American economy ("I'll put myself into enormous debt to buy ____ even though I can't service that debt 'cause everything will eventually work out!"), whereas "The Powerlessness of Positive Thinking" is about the deleterious effect of positive thinking on general happiness.

    The Powerlessness of Positive Thinking

    Since publishing “The Secret,” in 2006, the Australian author Rhonda Byrne has been writing self-help manifestos based on the idea that people who think positive thoughts are rewarded with happiness, wealth, influence, wisdom, and success. In November, 2013, she published “Hero,” the fourth book in the series. The book showcases the wisdom of twelve heroes—businesspeople, sports stars, writers, and philanthropists. Byrne’s idea isn’t new—it’s been a mainstay among greeting-card companies, motivational speakers, and school teachers for decades—but she’s become one of its most visible prophets. “The way to change a lack of belief is very simple,” Byrne writes. “Begin thinking the opposite thoughts to what you’ve been thinking about yourself: that you can do it, and that you have everything within you to do it.”

    There’s some truth to Byrne’s ideas about the relationship between thought and action. New inventions emerge after their inventors struggle through years of planning and mental preparation, for example. When people have a condition called somatization disorder, their psychological or emotional distress can manifest in physical symptoms—joint pain, headaches, even seizures. Byrne is also right to emphasize the stubbornness of thought. Once you think something, it is very difficult to eradicate that idea from your mind. The late, brilliant social psychologist Dan Wegner described this as the great irony of mental control: in order to insure that you aren’t thinking about an unwanted idea, you have to continually turn your mind to that very idea. How do you know that you aren’t thinking of a white bear driving a red Ferrari unless you think about whether you’re thinking it?

    The books have many adherents; most of their Amazon reviewers give them five stars. But they also have detractors. One criticism is that the books use a technique popularized by fitness gurus: when you see actors with tanned, chiseled bodies promoting a new piece of fitness equipment, you get the sense that they aren’t in excellent shape because they’ve spent hours using that particular machine. More likely, they jog or lift weights, or have great genes or a lightning-fast metabolism, or have some combination of these characteristics. It’s just as hard to believe that the heroes in Byrne’s books—let alone a feverishly productive polymath like Goethe or the notoriously irritable Beethoven—succeeded because they cultivated good thoughts. Moreover, as the journalist Oliver Burkeman noted in “The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking,” “Ceaseless optimism about the future only makes for a greater shock when things go wrong; by fighting to maintain only positive beliefs about the future, the positive thinker ends up being less prepared, and more acutely distressed, when things eventually happen that he can’t persuade himself to believe are good.”

    Burkeman is onto something. According to a great deal of research, positive fantasies may lessen your chances of succeeding. In one experiment, the social psychologists Gabriele Oettingen and Doris Mayer asked eighty-three German students to rate the extent to which they “experienced positive thoughts, images, or fantasies on the subject of transition into work life, graduating from university, looking for and finding a job.” Two years later, they approached the same students and asked about their post-college job experiences. Those who harbored positive fantasies put in fewer job applications, received fewer job offers, and ultimately earned lower salaries. The same was true in other contexts, too. Students who fantasized were less likely to ask their romantic crushes on a date and more likely to struggle academically. Hip-surgery patients also recovered more slowly when they dwelled on positive fantasies of walking without pain.

    Do you use "the power of positive thinking"? If so, do you find it helpful or do you believe you set yourself up for disappointment?

  2. #2
    Member JustAMind's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    MBTI
    ?
    Enneagram
    ?
    Socionics
    ?
    Posts
    86

    Default

    I do. I find it very helpful when paired with good preparation/effort. You have to be honest with yourself where you now/what are your possibilities. Wishful thinking/fantasizing is good for the moment but will not get you far.
    Negativity/pessimism may be as destructive as wishful thinking to me, it robs you of a chance of reaching your potential. I dislike this "that will never work", "I'm not good enough" mentality. People who are less optimistic can be very successful obviously but ultimately they could be even better in their respective fields with a positive attitude. It's sort of a cliche what M.Jordan said “You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them.” - but I think it's true. To sum up, whatever you embark on positive(rational!) thinking is IMO one of the foundations of success.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    4,226

    Default

    Would it be fair to characterize your thinking as "realistic"?

  4. #4
    WhoCares
    Guest

    Default

    To an extent, you have to have a certain amount of self belief in order to function effectively. But there comes a tipping point where telling yourself something you fundamentally believe to be untrue (ie, a lot of affirmations about enormous wealth etc) do set up the condition to fail as results fall so far below expectation that reality cannot be ignored and seems to beat you mercilessly instead. The key to a successful life I believe, is to hold expectations of success that are reasonable for where you are, then incrementally increase those expectations as you progress, while simultaneously holding a controlled level of anxiety about failure so that you are motivated to take action in your favour.

    Life isn't a genie lamp of magic wishes, it is mostly a paradox in which you have to learn to balance fear and ambition\desire so that you feel a real motivation impetus to take action.

    As a side note Rhonda Byrne is one author I have zero respect for, it takes no talent to prey on the hopes and wishes of a disempowered populous by offering the easy (and false) way out. Its the same thing as the govt selling lottery tickets.

  5. #5
    Member JustAMind's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    MBTI
    ?
    Enneagram
    ?
    Socionics
    ?
    Posts
    86

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by 93JC View Post
    Would it be fair to characterize your thinking as "realistic"?
    To be fair in some cases it is, in other it's not. I sure try to though.



    Quote Originally Posted by WhoCares View Post
    To an extent, you have to have a certain amount of self belief in order to function effectively. But there comes a tipping point where telling yourself something you fundamentally believe to be untrue (ie, a lot of affirmations about enormous wealth etc) do set up the condition to fail as results fall so far below expectation that reality cannot be ignored and seems to beat you mercilessly instead. The key to a successful life I believe, is to hold expectations of success that are reasonable for where you are, then incrementally increase those expectations as you progress, while simultaneously holding a controlled level of anxiety about failure so that you are motivated to take action in your favour.
    I agree with this

  6. #6
    likes this gromit's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    6,651

    Default

    Yeah, similar to @JustAMind... I think honesty/realism is important, but also that a sort of sense or belief that things are gonna work out for you if you put in the effort is good for your health and maybe for your success in your attempts at life.
    Your kisses, sweeter than honey. But guess what, so is my money.

  7. #7
    likes this gromit's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    6,651

    Default

    But there's a difference between wanting something/believing you can get it and being totally emotionally wrapped up in that concept and then being disappointed if you fail to achieve or obtain it.

    It's about being (or not being) to attached to the idea of a thing...
    Your kisses, sweeter than honey. But guess what, so is my money.

  8. #8
    Senior Member NK258's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    MBTI
    INFJ
    Enneagram
    6w7 sx/sp
    Posts
    288

    Default

    Read this article this morning actually. Loved it! Debated checking into the author. I absolutely agree. People who rely ONLY on positive thought and optimism set themselves up for a rough road. It needs to be tempered with realism/objectivity. I do belief the power of thought incredibly powerful. But the mind has to be flexible and prepared to embrace hardships as well.
    6w7 Sx/Sp (621 or 612. Same diff :p).

  9. #9
    Senior Member NK258's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    MBTI
    INFJ
    Enneagram
    6w7 sx/sp
    Posts
    288

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by gromit View Post

    It's about being (or not being) to attached to the idea of a thing...
    Perfectly stated. I think it boils down to managing expectations.
    6w7 Sx/Sp (621 or 612. Same diff :p).

  10. #10
    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    MBTI
    ENFP
    Enneagram
    4w5 sp/sx
    Posts
    9,472

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by NK258 View Post
    Read this article this morning actually. Loved it! Debated checking into the author. I absolutely agree. People who rely ONLY on positive thought and optimism set themselves up for a rough road. It needs to be tempered with realism/objectivity. I do belief the power of thought incredibly powerful. But the mind has to be flexible and prepared to embrace hardships as well.
    Learning realism/objectivity is a process, best accomplished by shooting for the stars and falling flat. If you don't have an unhealthy amount of positivity, then you'll only ever accomplish things that are only reasonable. There's nothing wrong with this, but it's definitely not for me.

    I feel that when I spend a lot of time managing expectations, then I'm taking away energy that can be applied to the task at hand. I'd much rather pick up the pieces later rather than never get the rocket off the launchpad in the first place.

Similar Threads

  1. Kazimierz Dabrowski: The Theory of Positive Disintegration
    By hacbad macbar in forum General Psychology
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 01-04-2015, 01:47 PM
  2. The Poison of Positive Thinking
    By ygolo in forum Philosophy and Spirituality
    Replies: 34
    Last Post: 12-11-2013, 05:49 PM
  3. Critique of "Positive Thinking"
    By tcda in forum General Psychology
    Replies: 22
    Last Post: 06-22-2010, 03:35 PM
  4. [INFJ] Seeking feedback from outside the confines of INFJ thinking
    By Z Buck McFate in forum The NF Idyllic (ENFP, INFP, ENFJ, INFJ)
    Replies: 39
    Last Post: 06-05-2010, 03:37 PM
  5. Do you think the removal of habeas corpus was a good idea?
    By Annuit Coeptis in forum Politics, History, and Current Events
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 04-24-2008, 04:54 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Single Sign On provided by vBSSO