Secret history of "Positive Thinking" and the New Age




There’s nothing occult about it, unless you want to go really deeply into epistemology. Everything you see around you began as somebody’s idea, which then became reality. We just tend to ignore the middle step - hard work.


“There’s nothing occult about it”

Oh! Did you read an advance copy of the book?


No, but I’m very familiar with the subject. Was it wrong of me to comment? Feel free to delete it.


Not wrong of you to comment at all.


And for balance, let’s throw in Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America.


As far as the power of positive thinking goes, I’ve seen it work for myself in ways I can’t deny. Of course, it goes hand-in-hand with the work, but a huge part of it is thinking you can pull off some crazy shit in the first place.

I’ve seen too many others tragically work hard their entire lives but are chained by their own self-imposed limitations, fear (the mindkiller) and an unhealthy lack of imagination. Instead of finding excuses to not do things, it’s sometimes best to overcome your fears, jump in and learn as you go.

As far as the occult stuff goes, I guess it depends on how you define it. To me, the occult is often just hidden knowledge and esoterica that has little or nothing to do with real, live demons and shit.

Hail Sagan…

I’ve seen time and time again where if I mentally tell myself I can achieve certain things, I do hundreds of thousands of tiny, subconscious acts over time that leads me towards those goals. On the other hand, I’ve watched people locked into self-doubt that do hundreds of thousands of tiny, subconscious acts that leads them to nothing but failure and stagnation.


I wonder if that’s less about the power of positive thinking and more about the hazards of living in denial and wallowing in self-deluded ignorance?


I used to do martial arts. Smashing boards with your hands is pretty crazy shit, but with good coaching even the newbs can do it.


It worked for Stuart Smalley, I heard he’s a Senator now!


The whole “positive thinking,” mantra and school of thought, or at least the lack of needless self-doubt and pessimism certainly has to help achieve goals in a “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” kind of way, but it can also be used, and is often used to excuse real obstacles to success. It often seems to appear as a kissing cousin of the bootstraps argument, where those who fail just “didn’t think positively” when in fact they may have had some real obstacles. I think it has more of a tendency to obscure complex realities than enlighten. Like religion, it should kick in AFTER everything that can be rationally understood and dealt with scientifically, as a “there’s nothing more I can do with my hands here, can’t hurt to believe” so as not to obscure realities.


People with only positive thinking hammers tend to see obstacles as negative thinking nails to be hammered down.


Your comment made me think of the notion that people who say they practice positive thinking are a lot times assumed to be naive or ignorant, with negativity and cynicism seen as a more “realistic” view.


Your comment made me think of the notion that people who say they practice positive thinking are a lot times assumed to be naive or ignorant, with negativity and cynicism seen as a more “realistic” view.

What a downer you are. Nice, unprovoked, dickish slam. (golf clap)

Well, ok… let me know the next time you sell your business to a multi-billion dollar publishing company or surf 15 foot waves in Hawaii (with style, chump).

Like I said, works for me. YMMV, of course. Believe or not, one can use positive thinking, have ambitions and accomplishments in life while also considering the realistic obstacles before them. Nowhere did I say that I actively try to ignore my limitations. If so, among other things, I’d be dead by now, that’s for sure.

I have lower than average intelligence in many regards, but I try to use my other mental strengths to compensate (try is the key word). I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but I learned to make connections despite that fact. I’m sorry to rain on your shit parade, but I’ve had actual successes from my strategies (along with inevitable failures). But, hey… if being a miserable, negative creep has worked for you, then more power to you.


Heh, I think one should never stop doing martial arts (at least mentally) and apply it to life in non-physical ways. That remind me, I need to go mountain biking…

That is, if I can get over my fears of bears, mountain lions, slippery mud banks above cliffs, rock slides, rattle snakes, freezing weather, broken bones, being deathed to death and my own inadequacies!!! :stuck_out_tongue:


But he’s right. His comment was about how people are *perceived,*not how they actually are. Pessimists think optimists are naive; optimists see pessimists as cynical. Sometimes, they both have a point.

As for mountain biking, don’t worry. The grue can’t eat you if you don’t believe in it.


I’d like to try thinking positively, but I just don’t believe it’ll work. Every time I’ve tried it, it hasn’t done me any good.

I’m only half-joking here. I don’t believe it’s everything people say it is, mind you, at least at the extremes (things like “The Secret” seem deeply stupid). At a milder level, I recognize the benefits to a certain degree (particularly the “if you convince yourself you’ll never succeed, and don’t try, you lose anyway”) intellectually, but I have trouble applying it to my life or believing it’s true for me, any any time I try deliberately thinking things like “I’m awesome!” in contradiction to my instincts, I just wind up thinking even worse of myself… maybe it’s because I have a deep dislike for egotistical people and when I try to convince myself I’m better than I genuinely think I am, I feel like I’m one of those people and start hating myself. :stuck_out_tongue:


Think what you like. It’s not as if we actually have any type of agency or free will anyway. Besides, who decides what is “positive” and what is not? Gauged by what standard? Sounds like a controlling grammar to me, with those who dole out the “don’t be negative” in control.
I know that starving people think of food in a very “positive” way, but that thinking does not fill their stomachs. There is no surprise to me that the protestants picked up on this idea, because it’s the ultimate in judgement on the poor. One’s predicament is their own fault because they don’t think positive!


Oh goodness! I in no way meant that as a slam! I was in agreement with your viewpoint, actually, that it might be more about the “hazards of living in denial” - that phrase made me think of how people have often perceived ME as more ignorant if I was being positive, or realistic if I was being pessimistic.
I’m not sure how you got the idea that I was being negative toward you? I in no way meant to imply that YOU are ignorant for being positive, I was just saying sometimes people perceive positivity as liability when it may not be. I guess I should have prefaced my comment.
I am actually supportive of your stance. I personally tend toward positive thinking and I don’t have any million dollar companies to show for it, I have a pretty simple life but it seems being mostly positive in my thinking has helped me to make the best of some pretty shitty situations.


Optimists get really annoyed if you tell them they’re naive. But if you tell pessimists they’re cynical, they’re usually fine with that, though sometime they’ll tell you that no, what you’re perceiving as cynicism is actually naively wild optimism and the reality is worse than that.

And if you’re mountain biking in the dark, a grue probably will eat you after you’ve crashed into a car or run off the road; once you’re mostly dead it doesn’t care if you don’t believe in it.