the impossible weight of positive thinking, the having it all mentality, the conservative hate machine gets points for mendacity

The Power of Negative Thinking

Consider the technique of positive visualization, a staple not only of Robbins-style seminars but also of corporate team-building retreats and business best sellers. According to research by the psychologist Gabriele Oettingen and her colleagues, visualizing a successful outcome, under certain conditions, can make people less likely to achieve it. She rendered her experimental participants dehydrated, then asked some of them to picture a refreshing glass of water. The water-visualizers experienced a marked decline in energy levels, compared with those participants who engaged in negative or neutral fantasies. Imagining their goal seemed to deprive the water-visualizers of their get-up-and-go, as if they’d already achieved their objective.

Or take affirmations, those cheery slogans intended to lift the user’s mood by repeating them: “I am a lovable person!” “My life is filled with joy!” Psychologists at the University of Waterloo concluded that such statements make people with low self-esteem feel worse — not least because telling yourself you’re lovable is liable to provoke the grouchy internal counterargument that, really, you’re not.

Vindicated! Not really, in some previous posts that have been critical of the positive thinking movement and self-help books my point has always been not that it is wrong to think positively, but overly simplistic at best. While it frequently undermines critical thinking and is counter-productive. The average person, a little crazy, but relatively normal person cannot think positively all the time. That is why people who are really into positive thinking as philosophy or lifestyle, when challenged, start to get a little angry. Some try to hide it , but they’re afraid you’re going to bring down this construct they work so hard to maintain. To think solely in terms of the negative is just as counter productive. The article has a good snip from The Stoics. They pictured the “the premeditation of evils”. To honestly look at the worse possible outcomes. As modern life presents the possibility of so many possibilities one might  expand that to considering as many outcomes as possible. Then considering actions or coping mechanisms for each outcome. This, according to some studies anyway, tends to reduce anxiety. Thoughts contemplating the future, like dreams, are not real. They might become real, but until they do, all the happy or negative thoughts in the world remain just that. As a semi-professional at anxiety I can say it is easier to read suggestions on how to cope than putting them into action.

I recently read this interview with Gay Talese that contained this part about confidence and believing in yourself. Positive thoughts, positive self esteem…all feelings we enjoy having, but not absolute requirements for success in one’s endeavors. Gay Talese, The Art of Nonfiction No. 2. Interviewed by Katie Roiphe


One of the good things about being a copy boy was that you got to know a lot of people on the staff. Especially if you were polite. I had good manners, thanks to growing up in the store—a reverential attitude toward the customer. So I approached Meyer Berger, one of the famous reporters on the paper at the time and a wonderful, generous man. He said I could write up the piece on his typewriter and show it to him. I did, and he liked it. He showed it to his editor, and soon it was published, without a byline, on the editorial page.


That took a lot of confidence.


Well I didn’t have great confidence in myself because I had nobody, really, who had confidence in me. I always think of John Updike, who had tremendous confidence in himself because his mother said, You’re the greatest little shit in the world. You’re so wonderful, wonderful, wonderful—and he believed it. David Halberstam too—his mother told him he was the greatest shit in the world and he believed it. He had a tremendous sense of self. In his mind he was Charles de Gaulle. My mother never told me I was the greatest, my father never did either. They were very critical. I felt that I had to prove something to them. Neither they nor anyone else gave me the sense that I was gifted.


When did you realize that you had talent?


Never. All I have is intense curiosity. I have a great deal of interest in other people and, just as importantly, I have the patience to be around them.

There is probably a healthier middle ground between Talese’s parents and Updike’s parents.

lake grass wallpaper

Many people would think less about anxiety, negative outcomes and self esteem if they realized they cannot have it all, nor should they try to. Columbia University professor says ideal of ‘having it all’ is impossible

Lee think much of the unhappiness and discontent people feel in their lives is fueled by expectations of rewards and the fear of missing out on something important. In general, human beings don’t really have a choice as to what life we’re going to live, she said. We’re in our own lives and we either have to accept that or spend a lot of time hoping for something else.

“The idea to me of having it all is less about having it all and feeling really fulfilled. I think what happens is you’re in this kind of conundrum where ‘having it all’ is sort of a gloss for a fear of missing out on something,” she said. “Once I had my child, it has just been what it is. I guess I feel that comparing my experience with others, it just isn’t really practical.”

I’m probably not in agreement with every word. Articles like this are not important in the sense of measuring every word or action that worked for the speaker. They’re useful as a starting point to figuring out what should be the deeply personal journey of finding out what is important to you. Be prepared, guaranteed that when you come up with some, let’s call them semi-answers rather than something written in granite, some people in your life – parents or the boss or a significant other – will not be happy with what you have found.

Study Finds Conservative Talk Radio Promotes Echo-Chamber Of Hate Speech

On Wednesday, the National Hispanic Media Coalition and UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center released a study showing that guests and topics discussed during “The Rush Limbaugh Show,” “The Sean Hannity Show,” “The Glenn Beck Program,” The Savage Nation” and “The John and Ken Show” overwhelmingly marginalized minority groups.

…These viewpoints have far reaching consequences. NHMC President and CEO Alex Nogales told Fox News Latino that the social network surrounding conservative talk radio and Fox News has spread to social media websites resulting in “an echo-chamber of voices, both online and off, that promotes hatred against ethnic, racial and religious groups and the LGBT community on social media web sites.”

Another study confirming several other studies that the conservative movement is filled with malicious hate mongering, contempt for basic standards of morality and always seems to twist their autocracy into victim-hood. The recent events surrounding a horrible fast food franchise ( have these people never eaten a good chicken sandwich. Maybe that is why they’re in such a cranky mood) are a good example of the last tendency. Anyone who objects to conservative Republican eliminationism, where conservatives revive the Jim Crow mentality and force of law to deny some citizens their full rights as citizens – are “intolerant”. If this was an Olympic events, points to the radical Right for reaching new heights of mendacity.

Romney Smears Obama, Falsely Claims He Filed Lawsuit To Restrict Military Voting In Ohio. If Mitt Romney has moral values, exactly when can the nation expect to see him display some? Maybe Mitt thinks they’re green M&Ms and he is saving them for a special occasion.

From the depths-  William Balfour, artist.  Done in 1906 for Published in: The silent war by John Ames Mitchell. ” Print shows a lavish social event in a large ballroom attended by the well-to-do; the party is disrupted when a fist erupts through the floor, beneath which are the struggling masses of the less fortunate who provide the foundation support on which the wealthy rest.”  There has never been a period of history where most of the wealth and power has been concentrated in the hands of the few and things have turned out well.

Faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is tango. Artist: Udo J. Keppler. Published 1914 February 7. The fast-food franchise also reminded me of this. Not all Christians are jerks, it just seems that way some days. “Illustration shows a mother with an infant and a young child standing in the windblown snow at night, looking at a notice posted on a wall that states “Charity Ball” and “Proceeds for the Benefit of the Needy” and a new notice posted over the old “Called Off on Account of the Church’s stand on Modern Dance”.