Positive thinking? Pah! How many times do you see those memes in your timeline? The ones telling you to everything will fall into place through positive thinking? Are you like us and thinking, yeah right… that’ll work?
Are you going, ah yes, I’ll think positive and I’ll be a great success? My bills will get paid; my roof will mend itself … are you? Or like us, are you thinking fuck that shit, and scrolling down the page. We’ve been wondering where all this Positive Thinking comes from, so we’ve done some digging.
Our favourite Positive thinking memes
We’ve crawled through our timelines and found some you’ll just love!
Where positive thinking all started
We were wondering where all this positive thinking malarkey began. It turns out it has its origins over a 100 years ago. It started out as a bit of a rebellion against Calvinist work ethic. It has influenced lots of New Age thinking. But it also influenced the Christian Science movement: the power of the mind.
But it’s not all great. People have pointed out the danger of positive thinking. Barbara Ehrenreich(1) says that it hasn’t helped the American economy one bit. She argues the cult of positive thinking means no-one makes contingency plans.
Psychologist Gabriele Oettingen(2) devised experiments to see if positive thinking works. What she found out was startling. Those who were thinking positive thoughts about their work achieved less! It was like they’d relaxed too soon.
The Power of Negative Thinking
“Pessimism, when you get used to it, is just as agreeable as optimism.”
Negative thinking all started with the Greek Stoics in the 3rd Century BC. They believed that negative things are only negative because you think they are, and that by facing up to the worst, you can then realise that it isn’t the worst at all. There’s a whole lot more shit can happen, and so you may as well be content with what you’ve got.
More recently, research suggests that the route to happiness is not positivity at all. In fact, it can make things worse. Squaring up to the worst case scenario gives you the heads up. It gives you chance to take evasive action. Pretending you’re not scared doesn’t mean you’re not scared. Best to look it in the face, check the danger signs.
So … we don’t want you going round being negative all the time. And a bit of positivity is good for us. But keep it real guys, keep it real!
- Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World; Barbara Ehrenreich; 2010
- As cited in The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking; Oliver Burkeman; 2012