Monday, October 19, 2009

The Poop on Positive Thinking

Earlier this week I caught an online episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. His guest was author and journalist Barbara Ehrenreich who wrote the book Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. She mentioned she wrote the book after battling breast cancer and how she came out of the experience nastier, tired of people telling her to “stay positive”. Though I can see how that can wear on you during tough personal times, I would think living to tell your story is pretty positive. But, hey. That’s just me. She also referred to the bestseller The Secret ‘s notion you can control the world with your own thoughts and scoffed that if things don’t go your way, then you probably sent the wrong message to the universe. It was a tough interview to watch. This woman really brought me down! 

I’ve read The Secret and I’ll admit I’ve even tried out its message about the law of attraction; the idea that you can draw things to you. I tried to draw on a pair of size 4 pants. Didn’t work. I tried to draw producers from The Amazing Race to watch the entry tape I did with a friend. We’re still here.

Then, I finally decided to draw on the belief that walking on faith and staying positive to the idea that leaving a good job and moving to a new town with an unknown future could actually work.  And so far, it has. So there may be something to it after all. 

Still, as I rode my bike along the historic Columbia River highway I couldn’t help but wonder why Ehrenreich’s comments kept getting on my nerves. All week I felt agitated but didn’t know why. Could Ehrenreich be behind this agitation? I doubted it. Could it be the crazy unpredictable Portland weather I was finally experiencing? It couldn’t be. Then it occurred to me. All the positive thinking I’ve been doing might actually be taking shape: like settling into a home I like, getting back to girls’ night, and bringing in more work. Perhaps therein lies the source of my agitation: the fact positive thinking really is working with only minor bumps in the road. Ironic, isn’t it? That positive thinking actually working is causing negative agitation? I think it’s more that I’m not used to this, or at least recognizing this when it happens. Maybe positive thinking works when you prepare for what you want to draw in, yet stay in the moment. And if you do that, I really can’t see how you could be sending the wrong message to the Universe. 

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