So far, I’ve described the book and parts of it. Mostly what Barbara Ehrenreich thinks, with some of my opinions thrown in; this post is entirely dedicated to my thoughts of the book. It was brilliantly written by an intelligent woman who refuses to fall into the positive thinking trap. It is comedic and sarcastic, as well as logical and well researched. I was impressed and I loved it. Bright-Sided was one of the best books I have ever read, and one of the most enlightening as well. It may seem like it’s about pessimism and never being happy, but that isn’t it at all. This book tells the readers that it is okay to smile, it’s absolutely fine to be happy, but that it’s also okay to get depressed and feel rage occasionally. I highly recommend it to anyone with an open mind that is willing to actually listen to and analyze what was written. I recommend it to those stuck in the positive thinking trap themselves, and to realists who think that something is wrong with them because others call them negative or pessimistic. Bright-Sided explains what is wrong in our society, how that came to be, and gives specific examples of why the Positive Thinking Movement is more negative than negativity itself. It teaches readers, and hopefully that will include all of America one day, that life is balanced by negative and positive, it is a rollercoaster full of ups and downs, and the sooner we accept the reality, the better off we’ll be.

I previously mentioned that a major belief in the Positive-Thinking Movement was to get rid of all negativity and that those who are suffering are doing so because they don’t have the right attitude. I didn’t go very in depth with that, so this post is dedicated to that idea and its effects. I have to ask you, if someone you considered a dear friend came up to you one day and said “I’m sorry, but I’m trying to make my life better and more positive and you just seem to be to negative for that, so I kinda have to end this friendship. Or whatever.” It is a cruel reality in our country. Positive-thinking has led to a total lack of empathy, which seems to me to be quite contrary to the purpose of positive thinking. If someone sees a homeless individual, what is often their first thought? That they might’ve been laid off from their job? That no one will ever hire them? No, most people will think that they must be some broke drug addict or something, it’s their own fault that they’re where they are in life. When did the world become so cruel? Positive thinking is dedicated to happiness, but where is the true happiness when most can’t find one shred of empathy in their brainwashed minds? This movement needs to be at the very least revealed as a sham, at the most…it should be eradicated.

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Here’s to those called Pessimists!

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I think a lot of us have been there — someone says you’re being a Negative Nancy, a pessimistic. Why don’t you just look on the bright side!? There you are, faced with a notion that is imbedded in our culture whether you’ve noticed it or not. This notion would be POSITIVE THINKING. I know I’ve been caught in this situation many times. Isn’t it just frustrating to have an idea that is shut down, not available for discussion, based purely on a positive ideal?

There are many ways that people can deal with this confrontation. Perhaps, they fall silent and just think their thoughts in their head while all the happy-go-luckiers continue on their happy rants in Optimistville. That’s what I used to do. I would wonder to myself, “Is there something wrong with me? Why can’t I stay positive? Why am I a Negative Nancy? I don’t want to be THAT person, the Debbie Downer!” I’m sure my liberal arts education for which I studied all the woes of the world did nothing to help…

Then I actually gave the topic of positive thinking some actual thought. I did some research on positivity. I read the self-help positivity books for insight on my pessimistic attitude. I read about the positivity industry, the origins of positivity.

Then, it just happened.

I realized that I AM NOT A PESSIMIST. I am not a Debbie Downer. And, ladies and gentlemen, I am not a Negative Nancy. What am I, then? I AM A REALIST. I observe what is real and confront situations with real, gut-wrenching, uncensored thoughts and feelings. I don’t have to tell myself that the way I am thinking is wrong and to think more positively. The reason I don’t have to do that is because the way I am thinking, although not the Eat, Pray, Love way of thinking of things, is A-OKAY. My life is not a PG-13 romantic comedy. My life isn’t even an R-rated romantic comedy most of the time. You know why, folks? Because my life is REAL and so is yours. We live, we dream, we cry, we laugh, we scream. We feel and we think and no one should feel ashamed of natural inclinations.

So the next time Ms. La-La-Land tells you to “think on the brightside,” tell her to get a new tag-line.

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If science is something you can accept or reject on the basis of personal tastes, then what kind of reality did she and I share? If it “worked for me” to say that the sun rises in the west, would she be willing to go along with that, accepting it as my particular take on thing? …In other words, there’s something deeply sociable about science; it rests entirely on observations that can be shared with and repeated by others. But in a world where “everything you decide is true, is true,” what kind of connection between people can there be?
Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America (Barbara Ehrenreich)
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a-weltanschauung:

"But in the world of positive thinking other people are not there to be nurtured or to provide unwelcome reality checks. They are there only to nourish, praise, and affirm. Harsh as this dictum sounds, many ordinary people adopt it as their creed, displaying wall plaques or bumper stickers…

After she wrote about her experience with breast cancer, Barbara Ehrenreich wrote about the origins of positive thinking in American culture. When Calvinism was popular in America, people, especially women, tended to report feeling sick or suffer from depression to a ridiculously huge extent. In response to this, Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, an American spiritual teacher, is credited with starting the New Thought Movement. This is somewhat different from the Positive-Thinking Movement started by Mary Maker Eddy. The New Thought Movement (NTM) is a mind healing movement that originated in the 19th century and promoted a belief that infinite intelligence is everywhere, that there is one God, and that all people are spiritual beings. From this point of view, many NTM practitioners believe that sickness comes from the mind, and can therefore be healed through the “right” (i.e. positive) mindset. It is considered to be  a sub-faith of Christianity, and is more of a principle than a religion. Since there is no hierarchical system, there are often a lot of diverse and often conflicting principles. As far as religions, or…sub-religions, go, I feel that this is all a bunch of quackery that was wrongfully allowed to spread. It influenced the Positive-Thinking Movement, and now that too has spread. In fact, it has become an integral part of American culture. It is a fact, but a sad one. It just proves that good intentions can have disastrous results.