Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive

Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America ☀ Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America PDF / Epub ✍ Author Barbara Ehrenreich – In this highly original and hugely entertaining account Barbara Ehrenreich confronts the cult of positive thinking in America She examines the impact of positive thinking on religion medicine academia In this highly original the Relentless PDF Ì and hugely entertaining account Barbara Ehrenreich confronts the cult of positive thinking in America She examines the impact of positive thinking on religion medicine academia and the business community and exposes the Bright-Sided: How Epub / psychological effects of a world which tells us to ‘put on a happy face’ From the pink ribbons and platitudes that surround breast cancer sufferers to the blind optimism that led to the recent economic disaster Ehrenreich How the Relentless eBook ´ pokes holes in conventional wisdom and faux science and ends with a rallying cry for clarity and courage.

About the Author: Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara Ehrenreich is an the Relentless PDF Ì American journalist and the bestselling author of sixteen previous books including the bestsellers Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch A freuent contributor to Harpers and The Nation she has also been Bright-Sided: How Epub / a columnist at The New York Times and Time Magazinehttpusmacmillancomauthorbarbar.

10 thoughts on “Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America

  1. Katie Katie says:

    Boy is it nice to see someone exposing Positive fucking Psychology The Secret the prosperity gospel and all the rest of the American happytalk crap I get so sick of it I get so fucking sick of it God I got so sick of it at the Health NonProfit Call Center I worked at all the smileys and balloons and cheery emails with little animated cartoons Join me on the coverage train and the reuired attendance pep rallies and the color coded performance scales with little medals and the cutesy slogans and the kindergarten level decorations and the endless teddygoddamnbears and the bunting and the smiles smiles smiles All of it designed to make you work harder and harder and uit bitching about it One guy I knew got in trouble for telling a caller someone terminal that Cancer sucks The issue wasn't slang so much as negativity You can't say cancer sucks? Cancer does suck Currently my old department is being eliminated and everyone laid off They are trying to be positive and they are all going nutsEhrenreich starts out with her experience with breast cancer Okay so this is not the best time in my life to read this book 'cause on Monday I am having a diagnostic mammogram Thanks again Health NonProfit I'm blaming you for this too I agree with Ehrenreich please let me die any other way than clutching a teddy bear surrounded by pink femininity If this innocent littlethingyturns out to beI don't want to see any goddamn pink for the rest of my life But it's worse than pink; she writes about women who are kicked out of breast cancer support groups when their cancer relapses; who are castigated in chatrooms for not being upbeat About books where cancer is celebrated as life affirming life giving the best thing that could happen to you Even those about to die wasted bald in pain too young seem to be expected to be happy and grateful And the worst seems to be that if you do die it is your own fault This is the attitude not just of patients but of nurses and doctors too This is the scariest part of the mammogram Monday Oh God please please anything but thatEhrenreich who has a doctorate in cell biology points out that even if positive thinking could strengthen the immune system it would not help defeat most cancers since most cancers have nothing to do with the immune systemActually that's just the introduction the teaser if you will She gives a history of positive thinking in America as a reaction to Calvinism but not the oppostive of it an extension of it one that still reuires constant self examination discipline and strictness She exposes positive thinking as a godawful lonely way of living since it calls for extreme self involvement and reuires the practitioner to cut herself off from negative people even if they are family or friends She looks at positive Christianity uestioning as I and others do whether it really has anything to do with authentic Christianity and at positive psychology that's where Seligman comes in Evidently Seligman has lost faith in it a bit himself She agrees with me about the abuse of positive thinking as a tool for making corporate employees compliant and passive in a time of downsizing; it's easier than using dogs and guns after all She also blames positive thinking in part for the economic meltdown The Fed believed in a permanently healthy market; the market believed in permanently high housing prices; the way to get out of the mess is for everybody to keep buying on creditOne weekend in college a bunch of us went on a day hike in the Adirondacks We missed a turn and came to the end of the trail Someone said Hey we have a compass and we know the lodge is west of here right over that ridge Let's cut across country Most of the group said Sure that's a good idea A few said Well maybe we should go back and look for the turnoff We took a vote; it came out 20 0 with one abstention Twenty intelligent people all of whom had some orienteering experience all of whom knew better voted to leave the path at six o'clock on a September evening because hey we got a compass we'll be fine heck And after five hours of wandering in the pitch dark we did find our way home and we were fineI'd give this book 5 stars if Ehrenreich didn't make the people she doesn't like sound ugly or dumb Does that mean I'm being too nice? Or that I don't like cheap shots? Okay Joel Osteen's short and wears a mullet and dumb suits Martin Seligman is rude and controlling I've always thought Seligman was a jerk but do you have to rub my or his nose in it?I like how two of the Google ads that showed up when I selected this book were for books called Manifest Anything and Attract Abundance Ehrenreich would probably spit coffee out her nose

  2. Lena Lena says:

    Barbara Ehrenreich was first exposed to the dark side of the positive thinking movement when she was diagnosed with breast cancer Early into her cancer journey she discovered that normal emotions such as anger and fear were being aggressively denied by those who believed that a positive attitude was crucial to survival Cultural skeptic that she is Ehernreich poured through the literature on the subject and found that not only did science fail to support the hypothesis that a positive attitude contributes to healing cancer but that those who failed to recover from cancer often experienced an especially cruel form of victim blaming at the hands of those who were convinced that it was their own faulty negative thinking that kept them sickThis experience led Ehrenreich to explore in depth the concept of positive thinking and how it is currently experienced in America today She traces its roots back to the New Thought movement of the 19th century a spiritualist reaction against Calvanism that gave birth to among other things Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Science Though nowhere near as depressing as Calvanism these philosophies still heavily emphasized personal effort and striving teaching that perfection was attainable if one worked hard enough and that problems in the physical body or external world were a reflection of work still needing to be done Napoleon Hill Think and Grow Rich and Norman Vincent Peale The Power of Positive Thinking helped to take these New Thought philosophies into the mainstream Though hungry salesman have often sought comfort in the promises of these sorts of speakers Ehernreich explains how over the last few decades these kinds of ideas have deeply penetrated all levels of corporate culture In a chapter titled Motivating Business and The Business of Motivation Ehrenreich details how corporations turned to motivational speakers to pump up workforces demoralized by layoffs and convince both those let go and those remaining that their attitude and not the relentless pursuit of corporate profit was responsible for their plightThough the recent phenomenon The Secret is a textbook example of how badly the idea of positive thinking can be misused in the service of personal gain Ehrenreich also explores how certain Christian prosperity churches have gotten into the act convincing their parishioners that God wants them to be rich and will help them get that way if they just show a little faith by giving money to the church Her comments on how many of the devout poor were convinced the predatory mortgages they were being offered a few years back were a gift from God were particularly poignantOne might think that psychologists who extol the virtues of positive thinking would be on firmer ground than those who have a openly exploitative agenda but in an entertaining chapter in which Ehrenreich describes her futile attempt to pin down positive psych guru Martin Seligman it becomes clear that the science of happiness is much murkier than it has been presented in the press While few would argue that being positive can feel good and many of us would prefer to be around positive people how much we are actually able to control our reaction to circumstances and what effect that ultimately has in our lives is still significantly up for debate Those who would argue that there's no harm in trying to be positive regardless of what the science says however would do well to read the chapter How Positive Thinking Destroyed the Economy The exhortation to cut out negative people from one's life was applied all too literally by CEOs who fired those who warned that they were taking on excessive amounts of risk As someone who was exposed early on to the fantasy that what you think can directly impact external reality I am no stranger to the massive amount of internal stress caused by trying to control one's thinking to be only positive I've spent the last few years deprogramming myself from these kinds of ideas and feel much happier now that I am no longer afraid of my own random thoughts and can experience the full range of emotions without the fear that doing so will somehow screw up my life Despite my own early indoctrination into the cult of positive thinking however I was still very surprised to learn that these are not just fringe New Ageself help ideas but ones that have deeply permeated all layers of American culture Americans are a uniuely positive people likely to believe they will move up in life than people in other countries do This optimism is in direct contradiction to the fact that we are actually less likely to improve our station than socialist minded Canadians and Europeans Yet the idea that anyone in America can succeed despite their background and that those who don't have only themselves to blame is regularly used to deny our less fortunate citizens benefits that are already the norm in other Western Democracies Erenreich's discussion of this phenomenon as well as how positive thinking is twisted to the service of repression by totalitarian regimes was one of the most disturbing parts of the book Ehrenreich concludes her writing with a discussion of the importance of learning to realistically assess both potential positive and negative outcomes of our choices instead of just focusing solely on what we hope will happen As she so thoughtfully points out We want our airplane pilots to anticipate failed engines as well as happy landings Developing this kind of healthy realism will go much farther towards bringing us real happiness than carefully controlled positive thinking can ever hope to

  3. Bill Kerwin Bill Kerwin says:

    It was bad enough that Barbara Ehrenreich suffered from breast cancer what made it even worse was that so many people medical professionals as well as friends and acuaintances insisted that she be upbeat and positive about her affliction Now in addition to feeling angry and scared she had to feel guilty about not looking on the bright side This experience led Ms Ehrenreich to examine the origins of Positive Thinking in America Dr uimby's New Thought Mary Baker Eddy as a reaction to Calvinism that substituted a condemnation of negative thinking for a condemnation of sin She shows how Positive Thinking has infected our Christianity our business community and may even be responsible for the financial crisis of 2008 A short book sharp and well written

  4. David David says:

    I always feel slightly guilty about my reaction to Barbara Ehrenreich's writing I do admire her she is ideologically committed writes with passion is on what I consider the correct side of the various social issues that concern her And yet somehow I always end up with these niggling reservations that prevent me from endorsing her books wholeheartedly In the case of Nickel and Dimed probably her best known work the niggling reservation was the artificiality of the whole endeavor the knowledge that the whole exercise of adopting the role of one of the working poor was undermined by the existing safety net Ehrenreich had available in her actual life Though it didn't invalidate her message it seemed to me enough of a distraction to weaken the effectiveness of her presentationHer recent book Bright sided has much to recommend it Ehrenreich's willingness to uestion received wisdom and dig deeper for answers her characteristically clear thinking expressed in clear and forceful prose Her central target in Bright sided is a US trait that is both a strength and a weakness the uniuely American faith in the power of positive thinking In the opening chapter which I found the most powerful in the book Ehrenreich describes her experience as a breast cancer patient There is an extensive well organized network to which someone just diagnosed with breast cancer can turn for support One of the most prevalent messages promulgated within this support network is that maintaining a positive attitude towards one's disease is imperative Ehrenreich argues persuasively that in many cases this rigidly enforced dogma of positive thinking to the extent of asking patients to view their disease as a gift is in no way supportive and actually ends up making people feel guilty about a bad situation beyond their control Nonetheless the belief that maintaining a positive attitude can actually affect the course of one's disease remains prevalent accepted unuestioningly by the majority of cancer patients despite an almost complete lack of objective scientific evidence to support it In subseuent chapters Ehrenreich shows how variations of the same belief which is essentially little than magical thinking have taken hold in different aspects of American life and different sectors of US society The popularity of books like The Secret the practice of advising people who have been laid off to take control of their situation through positive visualization the explosive growth of the motivational seminar business the rise of evangelical churches peddling the message that God wants you to be rich all are manifestations of the same fundamental belief not just in the importance of a positive attitude but in its ability to bring about change Ehrenreich believes and I agree with her that it's essentially a steaming heap of crap The prevalent faith in positive thinking not only exaggerates its potential benefits its effects can be actively detrimental For instance the amazing lack of outrage within the lower classes at the obscene excesses of the super rich is due in no small measure to the belief that with hard work and luck anyone can achieve a similar measure of financial success This leads to a focus on the individual's own status but works against genuine social change of the kind that might make a real difference And of course the recent financial meltdown had its origins in the exaggerated confidence that blinded investors to the real and substantial risks of subprime mortgages or versions thereof repackaged in the guise of assorted shady financial instruments Throughout the book Ehrenreich makes her case articulately and persuasivelyWhy only three stars? Because I think the book is about twice as long as it needs to be The point that Ehrenreich wishes to make is not particularly difficult nor is it sufficiently important to warrant 225 pages of exposition Much of the material in the middle chapters feels redundant crowding in one anecdote about yet another ridiculous motivational speaker long after the point has been made The phrase methinks the lady doth protest too much flitted unbidden across my mind leaving me feeling slightly guilty as Ehrenreich's books usually seem to doThough it's a little bloated Bright sided is nonetheless well worth your consideration In the words of a 1996 Brookings Institute study Strong belief in opportunity and upward mobility is the explanation for Americans' high tolerance for ineuality The majority of Americans surveyed believe they will be above mean income in the future even though this is mathematically impossible

  5. Trevor Trevor says:

    There is little point writing a review of a book once Lena has written one not of course that that will stop meThis is a wonderful book The main idea behind it is that we have developed a religious uite literally fervour for positive thinking The best bits of this book are when she talks about the Evangelical Churches in the US and how they have moved away from negative images like Jesus on the cross towards Jesus in a three piece business suit with a smile to let you know just how much he wants you to be rich I’m not a Christian but I would have thought that this particular bastardisation of Christianity is so far removed from Christ’s message sell all you have and give it to the poor rings a bell that some Christians out there might even object to it I mean it would be like saying Lenin just wants you to be rich – but apparently Christians don't mind this new and updated message The other bit of this book that is very disturbing is where she continues the theme she started in Bait and Switch The Futile Pursuit of the American Dream in talking about just how obscenely wealthy the CEOs have became at the expense of the rest of us Before I get accused of the ‘politics of envy’ – I really do have to say that I don’t envy CEOs in the least The people I have met who have been wealthy have also tended to be rather sad self satisfied and obsessed with money to the point of fetishism Their greed and their belief that nothing else matters beyond money is so repulsive that I always smile when I hear conservative politicians and their cheer clubs pull out that line I try to avoid envying people their sicknessesI’ve seen Evangelical ceremonies of both the religious and the make me rich uick kind and I feel there is nothing attractive about them Both seem to appeal to our basest human emotions But I have never really made uite the connections that are made in this book between the two The stuff comparing Calvinism and Positive Thinking is really interesting The saddest fact in the book is when she points out that the great American myth the myth that allows the obscenely wealthy to gorge and pillage and to wallow in their wealth with impunity is somewhat worse then mere exaggeration it is uite simply a lie The lie is that the average Joe will one day make it to being a billionaire as he has been promised as a reward for his hard work The problem is that this lie is even less true in America than it is in many other first world countries countries where there is at least some hope of social mobility Social mobility in the USA is actually virtually impossible Ironically the citizens of the USA do not even get upset with the excesses of the wealthy because they the poor citizens are certain one day they too will be rich and so in preparation for that day no limits must ever be placed on the greed of the wealthy Their greed is our greed in waitingI initially thought this book would be limited to the evils of positive thinking in healthcare The first part of this book looks at how positive thinking has a dark side that gets us to look on people who are dying and accuse them of having contributed to their illness by a kind of negative attraction It is an idea I find truly repulsive But this is only one of the kinds of Positive Thinking under attack here The book also looks at how we have created a culture where mentioning the train is about to crash even if we offer the helpful suggestion that we might consider applying the brakes is seen by many as being far too negative We live in a world where the people in charge know they are being lied to virtually all of the time by their underlings even if they can hardly complain because their underlings have been trained to always be positive and to never present senior management with problems unless those ‘problems’ are referred to as opportunities after having been covered in a mountain of sugar Not only has religion stopped being about suffering and been turned into a moronic self help put your hand in the hand of your heavenly personal trainer but companies have become like Churches and so preach the same ‘wealth is wonderful’ message Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers about The new time religion is change downsizing mega profits and smiley faces There are now only two kinds of change – the kind that you affect on yourself by smiling and saying ‘have a nice day’ until you fnally believe it is true and the kind that happens to you when you go from having a job to having the‘opportunity’ to discover the liberation of life without an incomeBarbara thinks that the financial crisis has done much to overcome this childlike positive mindlessness that has swept over us like mass hysteria Although I really do wish this was the case I have to admit to being somewhat less positive than she is I have already heard in Australia that there actually was no financial crisis I watch with horror at what is clearly a housing bubble here in Australia while being told that it will never burst by all manner of seemingly sensible people In fact here in Australia we are being told precisely what Barbara uotes was being said in the US prior to the little problem they had over there with that sub prime mortgages thing from a couple of years back isn't it amazing how uickly that stuff fades into the background I need to chant that all is well and assure myself that house prices can continue to grow annually in double figures while the rest of the economy is growing at 2 or 3 percent Why shouldn’t it be able to? Endless exponential growth sounds like just the ticket and can I interest you in a perpetual motion machine?Obviously there is something to the idea that Positive Thinking has something going for it Like anybody else I also like being around positive people and find negative people a strain All the same I would take a realist over someone who reads self help books any day There is something vacant in the eyes of those who have become obsessed with ‘positive thinking’ The most depressing fact is that the ‘positive thinking’ lobotomy needs to be self administered I’m not saying you should develop the personality of Melvin the Paranoid Android from Hitchhiker’s Guide but any idea that reuires you to smile UNTIL you are happy rather than BECAUSE you are happy just can’t be a goodThe book talks extensively about the 'modern science of happiness' and some of what she says contradicts what is said in Stumbling on Happiness a book I really uite enjoyed and would also recommend However I do think she has got a point and if you are interested in 'happiness' as the key to life perhaps you should read Aristotle's Ethics rather than any of the self help books she refers to that contain 'you' or 'your' in their titleLike I said a book well worth reading

  6. Jan-Maat Jan-Maat says:

    I enjoyed this book It left me feeling angry which I regard as the highest praise Hurrah for realism however bleak and a pox on the blindness of optimism Or instead as the old joke goes lets draw the curtains and pretend the train is still moving Indeed this is a book that reminds me of Douglas Adams' Electric Monk from a Dirk Gently adventureThe first chapter deals with her experience of breast cancer did I mention this is cheerful book her points in passing here the association of femininity and death infantalisation of sufferers view spoiler men she notes are not given matchbox cars when they have prostate cancer hide spoiler

  7. MJ Nicholls MJ Nicholls says:

    This Just InShort paragraphs and emoticons in reviews uadruple reading pleasure Shiny Happy PeopleApparently forced happiness is crushing the spirit of the American workforce and driving ravenous capitalists to unstoppable heights of self delusion that contribute to the one hundred trillion dollars or so national debt I Love Your SmileMillions of unemployed people many middle class professionals have been forced into taking minimum wage jobs in which any negative comments are met with a swift and firm dismissal Happiness is a Warm GunIn Ehrenreich’s startling book the spineless manipulative world of corporate blackmailing Disney oddly absent is exposed as the contagious ideological malaria it is Don’t Worry Be HappyThe disillusioned and depressed in their millions are forced to feign happiness at the workplace despite the rancid capitalist cancer eating out their souls and then be grateful for the chance to work at all Joy UnlimitedThe American Dream has been a con job from the start but those forever optimistic Americans are made to see layoffs poverty bowls of watery gruel and anal lice as challenge Lying in a pool of your own piss and faeces in a Harlem gutter? Stop whining All you have to do is visualise that tuberculosis away and you’re cured This Just OutHow fortunate to live in a nation where whining and carping is a national characteristic—no corporate policy will come between us and a long self pitying moan PostskippedA happier review than mine by Lucy Ellmann here in The Guardian p

  8. Carmen Carmen says:

    Well I basically slept my way through this That sounded wrongI was surprised and disappointed that I was so bored by this especially since Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed On Not Getting By in America remains an invigorating favorite of mine Her brilliance humor and biting cynicism is still in effect here it's not as if her intelligence and wit has gone away however I find the material to be sorely lackingEhrenreich starts out on a high note with one of the strongest chapters in this book the chapter on breast cancer After being diagnosed with breast cancer Ehrenreich finds her smart and cynical personality at odds with the relentless cheerfulness and consumerism promoted by the breast cancer industry She hates pink and she definitely doesn't want any fucking teddy bears But when she expresses her doubts fears concerns and anger she finds herself ostracized from the breast cancer survivorwarrior community scolded for expressing any kind of negativity or despairShe hears over and over again Cancer was the best thing that ever happened to meIn the most extreme characterization breast cancer is not a problem at all not even an annoyance it is a 'gift' deserving of the most heartfelt gratitude cancer is your ticket to your real life Cancer is the passport to the life you were truly meant to liveFuck that shit I swear if anyone ever suggested to me that any kind of cancer is a fucking gift I would edited for content Not acceptable Even though sometimes going through horrible stuff can make you a stronger and better person that doesn't translate to Yay I have cancerEhrenreich is full of rage but she has no one to turn to No one will accept her negative talk that will probably make her sicker and end up killing herThis message is extremely harmful without uestion there is a problem when positive thinking 'fails' and the cancer spreads or eludes treatment Then the patient can only blame herself she is not being positive enough; possibly it was her negative attitude that brought on the disease in the first placeThe reason she died was that she wasn't positive enoughShe also talks about the horror of breast cancer being normalized in our society The effect of all this positive thinking is to transform breast cancer into a rite of passage not an injustice or a tragedy to rail against but a normal marker in the life cycle like menopause or grandmotherhood Everything in mainstream breast cancer culture serves no doubt inadvertently to tame and normalize the diseaseInstead of treating cancer like the shitty disease that it is Ehrenreich was shocked to find it being padded in pink pillows and smiley face journals But rather than provided emotional sustenance the sugarcoating of cancer can exact a dreadful cost First it reuires the denial of understandable feelings of anger and fear all of which must be buried under a cosmetic layer of cheerShe also makes some very interesting mentions of the association of 'beauty' with breast cancer patients even mentioning predatory plastic surgeons egging women on to get their one natural breast that is left a little boost to match their newly reconstructed one You van defy the inevitable disfigurements and come out on the survivor side actually prettier sexier femmehelps you lose weight As for that lost breast why not bring the other one up to speed? Of the than 50K masectomy patients who opt for reconstruction each year 17% go on often at the urging of their plastic surgeons to get additional surgery so that the remaining breast will 'matchWhen my dear friend was diagnosed with breast cancer last year she jokingly said Well at least the chemo will help me lose weight I uickly tamped down my shock and horror but I was indeed shocked and horrified I've seen so many of my friends and family die from various forms of cancer I can't think of an uglier way to talk about it than taking joy in the weight loss that comes from chemo and radiation treatments Of course I didn't say that to my friend And by the way she's done with both the chemo and the radiation now and her hair is finally starting to grow back We can only hope this is the last we hear of the cancer After this chapter on breast cancer I feel like Ehrenreich becomes boring She covers a lot of topics that I already know a lot about I'm not shocked to hear that The Secret is a bunch of shit or that corporations use positive thinking to brainwash and control their employees and ex employees Nor was I particularly interested in the development of positive thinking from Calvinism and it's progression throughout the ages or the holes in psychology's 'examination' of the effects of positive thoughtI perked up again in Chapter Five which was a skilled and razor sharp take down of positive theology Great chapter Instead of harsh judgments and harrowing tales of suffering and redemption the new positive theology offered at churches offers promises of wealth success and health in this life now or at least very soon You CAN have that new car or house or necklace because God wants to prosper youEhrenreich attends Osteen's church and reads his books leading to a hilarious and masterful takedown of him and his theology Osteen's books are easy to read too easy like wallowing in marshmallows There is no argument no narrative arc just one anecdote following another starring Osteen and his family members various biblical figures and a host of people identified by first name onlyShe points out that Osteen's teachings eliminates God from religion and instead makes it all about human entitlement they too will triumph as Victoria Osteen has because that is God's promise to them It just may take a little time because theirs seems to be a forgetful God who has to be 'reminded' of his promises Joel told us Remember your promises one of the songs goes remember your people remember your children as if addressing a deadbeat dad Focus on what you want in other words and eventually after many importunings God will give it to youBut where is Christianity in all this? Where is the demand for humility and sacrificial love for others? Where in particular is the Jesus who said If a man sue you at law and take your coat let him have your cloak also?Even God plays only a supporting role and by no means an indispensable one in the Osteens' universe Gone is the mystery and awe; he has been reduced to a kind of majordomo or personal assistant He fixeth my speeding tickets he secureth me a good table in the restaurant he leadeth me to book contracts Even in these minor tasks the invocation of God seems of a courtesy than a necessity Once you have accepted the law of attraction that the mind acts as a magnet attracting whatever it visualizes you have granted humans omnipotence Joel Osteen isn't the only one she takes down she also talks about Edwene Gaines When the 200 she needed for a plane ticket failed to materialize she writes I sat down and gave God a severe talking to I said Now look here GodAs far as I know I've done every single thing that I know to do in order to manifest this trip to Mexico City I've kept my part of the bargain So now I'm going to go right down there to that travel agent and when I get there that money had better be thereAs she discussed earlier in her analysis of breast cancer culture Ehrenreich emphasizes the dark and insidious message that accompanies this kind of philosophy If you are poor sick or unemployed it's completely your fault Why aren't you thinking positively enough?? You must have done something wrongIt's cruel it's immoral and it's horrifyingPositive thinking is a great way to control the populace Ehrenreich says By and large America's white collar corporate workforce drank the Kool Aid as the expression goes and accepted positive thinking as a substitute for their former affluence and security They did not take to the streets shift their political allegiance in large numbers or show up at work with automatic weapons in hand In the end Ehrenreich calls for a resurgence of realism and the freedom to be someone who asks the hard uestions and points out the flaws in an idea or system She uses the mortgage crisis as an example of a system in which people who tried to warn the higher ups about what was going to happen got fired Kill the messenger I like and agree with her message about bringing realism and clear eyesight back I also strongly strongly recommend Nassir Ghaemi's amazing book A First Rate Madness Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness for some utter brilliance on the topic of realism and whether it is helpful or hurtful to an individual's lifeTl;dr Unfortunately there were only two chapters I can say I honestly enjoyed in this book Chapter One on breast cancer and Chapter Five on positive theology That leaves five chapters that had my eyes glazing overIt's not that Ehrenreich has lost her edge it's simply that I found most of the areas she explored here to be uninteresting Your mileage may vary In my opinion the book is worth reading for the breast cancer and theology part alone whether you skip the other chapters or just skim them is your own affairThis isn't Ehrenreich's strongest offering nor is it going to set your world on fire like Nickel and Dimed On Not Getting By in America didVIDEO SMILE OR DIE Barbara Ehrenreich Sonríe o muere subtítulos en español here Ehrenreich talking and an artist illustrating in English with Spanish subtitles highly recommended

  9. Sara Sara says:

    This is a 2009 review I belatedly found some really embarrassing typos and couldn’t help myself 0Last year while working in one of the roughest schools in one of the roughest districts of Orange County I had a chance to see how the positive thinking self help movement had slimed its way into public education Each day at School X came with newly minted and labeled behavioral issues expulsions and cop cars always cop cars Many of the kids were flirting with or had already joined local gangs and during my last week a group of students caused a five car pile up by hurling rocks into passing trafficDespite the poverty and often abusive situations in which many of these kids lived the only remedy the principal could arrive at with his fevered lack of imagination was chicken soup Real soup might have been better considering the crap they were being fed at school but no I’m talking about Jack CanfieldThe school had made a deal with the Chicken Soup tripe spewing machine and each week before their lessons for the day would commence students were subjected to three minute mini morals read in a cracked schmarmy voice that made the After School Specials of the 70s seem weighty in comparisonI remember standing in the classroom one post Christmas morning the economy having just ground to a halt when a riveting story about a curtain salesman who screwed up an order sprang forth from the loudspeaker The salesman had mistaken a customer’s order for Venetian blinds but rather than owning up to it he’d blamed the credit card company for his mistakeI couldn’t help wondering what kind of loony officious moron would think that a lie told by a terrified eight dollar an hour service rep would be compelling to kids whose parents in the age of deregulation likely had one or creditor’s hands at their throats If they were listening at all they would probably side with the salesman whose foisting the blame on an industry responsible for so many of this country’s financial ills was less a character damning lie than an act of resistanceI tell this story because it is exactly the kind of thing that Barbara Ehrenreich tackles in her book “Bright Sided How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America” Ehrenreich’s book explores how our Calvinist work ethic mingled with the new thought of Mary Baker Eddy into a gallimaufry of blind optimism and a blame the victim mentality just ripe for corporate manipulation Much of it doesn't really come as a surprise although it was great fun reading her evisceration of the new gospel touted by preachers such Joel Osteen who encourage their followers to demand their stuff from God the personal assistantIt’s not your poverty or your “language arts” teacher whose interest in the language stops at the Michael Jackson slogans she’s pasted to her podium; it’s not the lack of art or music available in your school because your test scores haven’t met state reuirements; it’s not the standards peddling principal who won’t let even your good teachers enjoy some creative freedom or that your parents must work two or sometimes three low paying jobs in order to feed you and often must take you with them while they work or that you live in a motel or share an apartment with three other familiesIt’s your attitude see?Now click your heels

  10. Jafar Jafar says:

    I remember reading this line in Paul Coelho’s The Alchemist When you really want something to happen the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true I didn’t think about it too much The book was full of such ridiculous but touchy feely warm and fluffy pronouncements But then I kept seeing this uote everywhere And Coelho is not the only one going around saying such vacuous platitudes The reason why so many people find such patently false absurdities charming or even inspiring has to do with the cuteness factor People don’t really believe this stuff They just read it and feel nice and warm about it and then go about their life The reason that I don’t get the same nice and warm feeling about it must be my dry overanalyzing of everything and my particular brain chemistry That’s what I’ve been telling myselfIt turns out I was completely wrong and didn’t know about it It’s not fluff It’s much much than that There’s this thing called the Law of Attraction which basically says that if you want something you just put a lot of time and energy into visualizing it and it should come to you The universe is just a mail order store There’s a long history behind this drivel and it has penetrated all corners of modern life especially in the US from New Age to mega church Christianity to pop culture to corporate culture It has become big business with coaches and gurus and motivational speakers busy milking the masses who apparently think that this is not the same as the old fashioned voodoo magic The ramifications of this trend of thought are so wide and deep that society in general including those who haven’t fallen for this law of attraction gimmick is in the grips of something called positive thinking This is a great book Ehrenreich starts off with her personal account of her fight with breast cancer and finding herself smothered with pink ribbons and teddy bears She then moves to discussing the roots of American optimism and then all the interesting analysis on the tyrannical hold of “positive thinking” on the American way of life today If Deepak and Coelho are your heroes you need to read and get annoyed by this book

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