by Ronin Lacy
Thoughts on positive thinking
Some years ago I came across a book about positive thinking. I can't remember the title, but essentially it was a two hundred page assurance by the author that if you thought hard enough about something, anything, then that something, anything, would come true. Of course, the unwritten caveat was you had to think about it hard enough, indirectly bearing witness to the age old axiom, "ye reap what ye sow". This gave the book some vague, illusive veracity, although he did not go so far as to suggest that, over time, one's thinking abilities would grow to be so virile that you were obliged to "watch out what you wish for."
Anecdotal first person testimonials about the soundness of this approach to life abounded, each followed by the basic prescription that all one was to think a lot about his or hers hearts desire and, lo, in time, said object would present itself like manna from heaven waiting to plucked from the ground.
The author, (I suspect he had his tongue firmly in his cheek) carried the popular notion of positive thinking past it's far extreme. Requiring nothing other than the rigorous application of thought directed to the out-of-reach, one could be rich or happy or popular or anxiety free, etc, etc, or any combination thereof.
I had been thinking about those very things for a number of years and to date, not much has changed in that regard, short of a occasional upward spike in one of those areas in my life I have long held to be lacking.
That author had taken a useful but ill named concept, positive thinking, and turned it into excrement derived from the male bovine stinking with preposterous claims. In this new age, preposterous claims abound, but none I have read to date went this far to distort the very healthy and valid, and misunderstood, concept of positive thinking.
The term positive thinking is unfortunate. It imply's that the mere act of thinking "positively" brings, or helps bring about desired results. Books with titles like "Think and Have It Now!" exploit the association between the words thinking and positive. It tries to seduce us into this intriguing but totally false notion that merely thinking will somehow have an effect on something. The sad part is that some may, in desperation, be twice seduced. First by purchasing the book, then by giving it their best shot and failing, therby adding to the long list of of disappointments that compelled then to buy the book in the first place.
I wish they would change the name of positive thinking to something else that would make it clear to everyone that it does not mean that by simply thinking some desired result will manifest itself. That's the stuff of stage magicians and charlatans too numerous to count.
Maybe the term Positive Viewing might do the trick.
Mysterious sounding enough to appeal to those who are intrigued by the mysteries of the paranomal, new agey enough to appeal to those who scorn anything tried and true, and open ended enough to at least interest those who are scientifically minded among us, the term Positive Viewing seems to be less open to misinterpretation. Unlike the implication of passive activity contained in the phrase Positive Thinking, the phrase Positive Viewing speaks of a dynamic act of will, not of passive day dreaming.
Using Positive Viewings as a label for a style of active critical thinking slanted with the intent of warding off the insidious effects of it's collery, a person is urged to view things as being open to interpretation by them as positive, if for no other reason that they have a choice. This is an act of will, controllable by themselves. This approach- unlike an edict from gurus to arbitrarily "Think Positive"- is empowering, asking only that we look carefully at all sides of any chapter in our reality with an open mind as to their value.
After some practice, the brightest side of situations are automatically seen, no doubt the intent of the originator of the phrase Positive Thinking. In the event of perceptions that are too awful to accept on any level, the person can draw his or her own lines in the sand about them and still remain Positively Viewing. At least the decision about this or that reality being untenable was theirs alone and not repressed under the rule of Positive Thinking.