Monday, January 11, 2010


:-) Got some cute emails today after Barbara Ehrenreich was interviewed on public radio in New York for her new book which, thank heavens, is trying to kick a hole in the relentless demand for positive thinking that has swamped this country for so many years. I think she'll make a real dent and I'm grateful for that.

But, as all of you know, I've been making fun of positive thinking -- that is, the notion that you should force yourself to feel positive and that will make the sun shine and your stocks go up, the thought that negative thinking can give you cancer and make it rain frogs -- for over 30 years.

I'm pretty sure I even make fun of it on You Tube. I mention it in every one of my books, and I open every workshop by saying:

"You went to school, held down a job, raised a kid and stuck to it year after year after year. So let me ask you this:

Did you do it with a Positive Attitude?

Did you do it with a Negative Attitude?

Or did you do it with any damn attitude you woke up with that day?


I even wrote a cartoon booklet I've been meaning to make available on that's called: How To Get What You Really Want Even If You Have No Goals, No Character and You're Often in a Lousy Mood

So I don't want anyone under 40, in the next 10 years saying, 'It's great that you're following Ehrenreich's lead on this positive thinking thing.' I think she's great. She may have a much bigger impact than I've had (my beloved fans continue to insist I'm spiritual no matter how I protest), but there is a place for ego to give credit where it's due, and at 74 I'm in a position to declare and confirm make a fuss about the fact that I got there first and have been fighting -- almost alone -- to get the word out to the world.

And thanks, BE. Glad to have the company :-)


  1. Of course, positive thinking, like any other belief, can be idiotic and out of sync with reality, but sometimes it makes me very sad to see people trash it too much. For some of us "positive thinking" means -- don't despair. Don't give in to those voices that say do yourself in, don't bother to try, no one cares. Sometimes positive thinking just means looking for hope that things can be better -- means providing the environment where a dream can grow.

    Please be cautious when dismantling people's sources of hope, 'cuz when you're in complete despair, no success team or flowchart can help you out.

  2. @Inotowok

    That's a great point - we have different definitions of what positive thinking means. To me, it's like training your brain to look for solutions, rather than to look for all of the obstacles (negative thinking).

    I want my mind to be efficient and get me results and I like the quickness with which I can move through issues when I'm looking for solutions.

    I also get hit with negative thinking and that's when it helps to be surrounded by a success team, people and supporters, so that it's their turn to "help" me see past the obstacles and get me moving again.

    I think it's about balancing REALITY with what's going on inside you, me at a specific time with optimism that it's only temporary...

  3. I love this post!
    Very thoughtful comments too!

    After reading Refuse to Choose I actually did the 'How did you do it?' assignment and realized I was pretty damn miserable before most of the things I did that really mattered! (eg tests, exams, singing in public, etc!)

    I also believe in the power of positive thinking, I think Barbara Sher does this too, in a way: when she asks, 'What's the ideal wish-come-true?'

    Then after you have some vision and idea of success to pull you forward, one can get pulled back by own fears and silly considerations, and 'Oh, I'm feeling miserable, so it means I can't do it' or such!

    That's when other people can come handy, to bully you into doing it anyway, if needed! :)
    (I know I often rebel with all my might!)

    For some people it may be helpful to look at an inspiring quote on the wall, others may need actual people to counter the negative thoughts with 'Go do it!' or such!

    I actually wrote a blog post on this today, lol! :)

    I really love the idea of training the brain to look for solutions, not obstacles! :)

    I agree it's important to be careful with definitions and linguistics... We're all different and different things may be great help at different times!

    I still love reading Louise Hay now and then, and am convinced stress can contribute to a big number of diseases, together with nutrition and environment, of course!