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Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America

1 rating: 1.0
A book by Barbara Ehrenreich

Starred Review. Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed) delivers a trenchant look into the burgeoning business of positive thinking. A bout with breast cancer puts the author face to face with this new breed of frenetic positive thinking promoted by everyone from … see full wiki

Tags: Book
Author: Barbara Ehrenreich
Genre: Health, Mind & Body
Publisher: Metropolitan Books
1 review about Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion...

Becoming Andy Rooney

  • Nov 12, 2009
Moderately interesting barely book-length (200 small pages) magazine essay, but a needed antidote to the poison of relentless "positive thinking." Ehrenreich, a cancer "survivor" (her lead chapter will explain the air quotes around that much-used word), didn't classify herself as an optimistic upbeat person before the disease, and certainly doesn't since--not because she is curmudgeonly, cranky, sour, or dour, but because the relentless pursuit of happy is fraudulent, unhelpful and even dangerous.

Ehrenreich traces the ":positive thinking" philosophy through history, medicine, self-help, religion, business, and the economy and finds Americans are not as optimistic as we think, but more optimistic (using optimism here as a rough equivalent to "positive thinking", which it is not) than we ought to be, given the cost of deception to self, society, and the economy.

So far so good, but when Ehrenreich claims in her chapter on the economic meltdown of 2007-2009 that positive thinking contributed to the mess, she's on shaky empirical ground (and to her credit admits it, unlike the positive-thinking psychologists she interviews). And ultimately, Ehrenreich doesn't find a silver bullet to kill off this insidious problem--which is kind of the point, isn't it? "Positive thinking" is a closed system. If you argue against "Positive thinking", why then you're just a negativist who needs to have a change of heart and some cheer to become a positive thinker!

Kind of makes you want to take the Andy Rooney route.

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