The Power of Negative Thinking

(Picture via LOLFed)

“GREED – and its crafty sibling, speculation – are the designated culprits for the financial crisis. But another, much admired, habit of mind should get its share of the blame: the delusional optimism of mainstream, all-American, positive thinking. As promoted by Oprah Winfrey, scores of megachurch pastors and an endless flow of self-help best sellers, the idea is to firmly believe that you will get what you want, not only because it will make you feel better to do so, but because ‘visualizing’ something – ardently and with concentration – actually makes it happen. You will be able to pay that adjustable-rate mortgage or, at the other end of the transaction, turn thousands of bad mortgages into giga-profits if only you believe that you can.

Positive thinking is endemic to American culture – from weight loss programs to cancer support groups – and in the last two decades it has put down deep roots in the corporate world as well. Everyone knows that you won’t get a job paying more than $15 an hour unless you’re a ‘positive person,’ and no one becomes a chief executive by issuing warnings of possible disaster.

The tomes in airport bookstores’ business sections warn against ‘negativity’ and advise the reader to be at all times upbeat, optimistic, brimming with confidence. It’s a message companies relentlessly reinforced – treating their white-collar employees to manic motivational speakers and revival-like motivational events, while sending the top guys off to exotic locales to get pumped by the likes of Tony Robbins and other success gurus. Those who failed to get with the program would be subjected to personal ‘coaching’ or shown the door.”

(via The New York Times)

(One good piece of advice that I’ve heard lately is to check your bank’s rating. You can check it for free on Bankrate.com. One to three stars are sound. Four to five; move your money.)

2 Comments

  1. This is really interesting. I discussed this lately with my father, who said that we live our lives with a very short term point of view for the most part.
    We don’t think nearly enough ahead. And I’m not talking about planing ahead either.
    You may do that as much as you want to, as long as you realize that you cannot plan for everything.
    Sometime, somewhere, something completely unexpected will happen. Luckily, as humans, we’re more or less made to adapt, to think out a solution.
    We must do that with all our problems, and realize that there will always be something that needs to be done, something that is not only essential, but that will also benefit us in the long run. And do it.

    The worst thing to submit a human to is passivity. To have everything being the same, everything solid, everything easy.
    Because easy is too easy.
    We need the momentum, the train of thought that keeps us evolving.
    Genes are also information when you think about it, so why not accumulate more of it, and evolve further?

    (Yeah, maybe it’s not completely on topic, but I felt like writing a bit. Hopefully someone finds it interesting at least.)

  2. I’m reminded of a line from Devo’s song Pep; “Say you will before you know you can.” Positive thinking is an important tool for doing things that you are going to do anyway, but it’s not a great way to decide what to do.

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