Positive Thinking And The Need To Berate It

It’s quite unbelievable to me that people still feel the need to berate the self-help industry and the notion of positive thinking.

There was an article on the New Yorker website called the powerlessness of positive thinking which, to be honest, wasn’t very good because the title, referred to positive thinking, and yet all the research mentioned, talked about something very different.

Firstly, the author was talking a great deal about Rhonda Byrne and The Secret.  Something which was the flavour of the month when it first came out, then later people found always sorts of ways to hate upon it.   Secondly he was talking about wishful thinking and fantasizing, not positive thinking;  two very different subjects.

I’m not particularly a great advocate of the term ‘positive thinking’ because for most people that brings with it the notion that one needs to think specific thoughts in a specific way. That is only true to very small degree, but to me, self help, mastery and all of those things go much deeper.

Most of the notable and genuinely regarded minds of the self-help industry do not advocate positive thinking; because they know that it just a surface level approach.

Personal development is now more prevalent than ever before. Even in business they now use techniques from the world of self-help to get the most from people. They use NLP coupled with a more holistic approach to enhance the quality of the business. Dan Pink for example talks about autonomy, mastery and purpose as the best types of motivators over money. Many top companies employ those principles.

But the industry is continually demonized and it seems to me that the witch-hunt comes down to two reasons.

  1. Where there is money there is always animosity.
  2. The way in which positive thinking is defined.

You can continue to berate it, but there is something you should now.

Most of the people who work in that industry don’t care that they’re berated and don’t pay any attention to it. It kind of comes down to everything they teach, to ignore the  negativity and just do it.

They’ve made money, usually as a product of their own teachings, then they package that product and sell it.  More importantly, they believe in their product.  They continue to use it to add value to their own lives as well as the lives of others.

What many of them try to do is say to people,  “look at where you are, then think about where you want to be and then here are some ways you can get there, but remember to enjoy the process too.  I did it, and if I can do it there’s absolutely no reason why you cannot.”

What those people have done is try and model those who have dreamed, believed and achieved and packaged it and there is nothing wrong with that. The entire self help industry is like an education system in which you pay to learn to move your life forward.

Youngsters in the UK need to fork out £27,000+ just to do a degree, which isn’t worth as much as it once was.  But they do it with a dream that it will somehow lead them to their vocation.

A person may buy a self-help book for £10 and it may completely change their life.

The outcomes are not black and white, it varies from person to person but those who do really commit and put into practise what they learn, really do get results.

The other part of this is of course the fact that the people who write articles like the one above confuse positive thinking with wishful thinking and fantasizing.

Hoping for things to turn out better, will rarely change someone’s life.  Coming up with a plan, specific steps, trial and error, and persistence will.  I’ve even talked about how you can take your negativity and use it to help you.

I’m willing to bet my life on it that those who’s who have a plan and take action to bring that plan to life do a whole lot better than those who just hope for their life to change.

I don’t know a single personal development guru who just tells people to hope for things to turn out well.  If you’ve ever attended a Tony Robbins seminar you’ll know that he drills into people to “Take Massive Action”.

There’s actually a poetic irony to positivity being met with so much negativity.  It’s expected and I’ve had my fair share of haters too.  It doesn’t bother me and I’m going to continue to teach what I believe in, which is the real kind of positive thinking that includes, grit, determination, risk taking, visualising, and most importantly, taking action!

I was looking on the web and found an interesting article from 2003 in which the writer thought of the Landmark Forum as a cult, but then went to a session for themselves, and got pleasantly surprised.

You’ll never really know until you try things for yourself, so don’t knock it, until you try it! 🙂

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