F*** Positive Thinking


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Take the bus instead of the car. Or cycle in the rain. Could doing the opposite actually be far more useful?

Focusing on the negative is the first step in dealing with problems. More than that, reflecting on all the negative things that might happen to you — and inevitably will happen to you, since even the most positive person eventually dies — will lead to greater appreciation of the life you are leading now. Step three is about getting used to saying no. The person who stays true to certain values — and is capable of saying no when those values are threatened — has character.

People with peace of mind are precisely the types who are grounded enough to say no to all sorts of unreasonable requirements and demands. Say no with a smile. The modern tendency to worship feelings turns us into unruly children. As an adult, you should instead admire those who are capable of controlling — and even suppressing —— emotions whether negative or positive ones. I soon stop listening to people who gush with praise or joy or gratitude all the time. Often, politely masking our emotions is the most sensible and desirable way to interact with other people.

Act like the Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius and see the insignificance of things as an antidote to anger. So you broke your favourite vase? From the perspective of eternity, where everything is ultimately doomed to perish, it is an extremely small and insignificant matter. Today we have leadership coaching at work, breastfeeding coaching, spiritual coaching, and all sorts of self-development stuff.

But the danger of coaching is that you are never allowed to stand still. This can only lead to self-blame and guilt. Take a walk in the woods. The grass, the trees and the birds existed long before people, and will probably outlast us all. A little humility in the face of nature can give rise to a healthy scepticism about our tendency to self-obsess.

When life hands you lemons: the new science of positive thinking

The best novels are complex, random, chaotic and multi-faceted. Top of the list for women like me who'd passed the menopause is an excess of the hormone oestrogen and I had been taking HRT for a few years so I was awash with the stuff. This, I assured her, was what I believed was the cause. She then proceeded to regale me with endless pieces of what she claimed to be evidence that her theory was right. She had read lots of books about it.

What I must do, she advised, was feel happy - she had read that happiness can cut breast cancer risk by a quarter. I must eliminate all negativity in relationships from my life, stop watching depressing news on TV and begin a programme of 'visualisation' and imagine the white cells in my immune system fighting off all the nasty cancer cells. I remembered another friend some time ago going down the visualisation route she'd embraced the idea that you can use the power of your imagination to help relieve symptoms or manage your problems.

When life hands you lemons: the new science of positive thinking

She, however, died. In any case, it's a little hard when you're a journalist and mother, as I am, to remove yourself from the news, and eliminating difficulty in relationships from your life is just a bit unfair to the rebellious but beloved teenagers who're causing all the trouble and rather depend on you to get them through it. Again, I told my friend that I thought she was talking rubbish; that she'd fallen into the swamp that is the multi-billion-pound New Age industry with its best-sellers, DVDs, life coaches, executive coaches and motivational speakers.

I told her that what she was saying was profoundly upsetting to anyone who was dying of cancer and who really didn't need to be told that they'd brought the disease on themselves, or that they hadn't fought hard enough to effect a cure. I gave her the statistics. Of women diagnosed with breast cancer in to , 82 per cent could expect to survive for five years, compared with only 52 per cent 30 years earlier.

This improved survival rate can be directly attributed to better detection, improved surgical techniques and the development of targeted treatments for different forms of breast cancer. At this point, I must make it clear that I am far from being a depressive or even the sort of person who views the glass as half-empty rather than half-full. I enjoy going through life with a smile on my face, hugging the people I care about and having fun.

Coat Your Mind In Positive Thinking - Motivated

I have no tendency towards the belief that suffering is character-forming and will make you a better person. But to be told that feeling miserable about a health problem that wakes you in the middle of the night and fills you with perfectly rational fear will make the condition worse and your prognosis less hopeful seems to me nothing short of cruel. I have recently been pleased to discover that I am not alone in my scepticism. A pair of American university psychology professors, Anne Harrington and James Coyne, have argued that it makes sense for a doctor to try to make a patient feel positive about coping with their diagnosis and the prospective treatment plan, no matter how horrible it's going to be.

The positive patient is more likely to show up for appointments and have a better diet and exercise programme. But, they warn, it is very stressful to have to pretend to be upbeat all the time. An American cancer nurse, Cynthia Ruttenberg, has similarly expressed her doubts about what another researcher has called 'the tyranny of positive thinking', saying it is 'an additional burden to an already devastated patient'.

I am positive I am going to beat it, yet it does get harder with each diagnosis to keep a positive attitude. For anyone who ever wondered why so many people had been so seduced by the positive thinking gurus and put them at the top of the best-seller lists, Ehrenreich traces a root that makes perfect sense. Calvinism was the religion of America's early pioneers. It was a dour Puritanism that demanded absolute obedience to its rules and required its followers to look to themselves and their own self-control to find their pathway to heaven.

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The result of such perpetual effort and self-examination to the point of self-loathing, she argues, was a pretty miserable bunch, particularly the females among the settlers who, in the midth century, were required to keep their God-fearing homes in perfect order, but rarely emerge except to go to Church, spending most of their lives on the chaise longue feeling poorly. Cosmic ordering believer: Noel Edmonds thinks the universe rewards positive thinkers.

As a reaction to the hell-fire philosophy of Calvinism came a new breed of thinkers who formulated what became known as The New Thought Movement. I also accept and agree to be bound by Postmedia's Terms and Conditions with respect to my use of the Site and I have read and understand Postmedia's Privacy Statement. I consent to the collection, use, maintenance, and disclosure of my information in accordance with the Postmedia's Privacy Policy.


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When life hands you lemons: the new science of positive thinking

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