I saw Barbara Ehrenreich, author of the book Bright-Sided, on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last week. Her book reveals “How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America.” I love Jon Stewart’s interviews and was keenly curious about this author and her book.
As I watched Ehrenreich on television, I got the feeling she’s a wounded soul. She talked about being diagnosed with cancer and how people around her told her to just think positive. I know from having my own cancer scare a few years ago that her feelings were justified. When you’ve been diagnosed with the C word, you’ve been kicked in the gut. Smiling people don’t help. I felt for her and agreed with her. Positive thinking in that dire situation isn’t welcome, at least not at first.
As I often do after seeing a Jon Stewart interview, I jumped on Amazon and ordered her book. I was so curious that I paid extra for next day delivery.
It’s a well written historical overview of positive thinking. It mentions all the positive thinkers you might guess, from Napoleon Hill to Joel Olsteen , Jack Canfield, Will Bowen, Bob Doyle, Rhonda Byrne; to the teachers in the movie The Secret, including me.
Turns out Ehrenreich heard me speak a few years ago at the National Speakers Association annual convention. There were more than 6,000 people there, so I never met her. But I apparently left an impression. She says in her book –
“Vitale, who looks like a slightly elongated version of Danny DeVito, offers the theme of ‘inspired marketing,’ and also love. “
Inspired Marketing is the title of a book I wrote with Craig Perrine, and love is the core of everything I do.
But Ehrenreich didn’t say either fact.
She mentions I’m a disciple of P.T. Barnum in her book, too, but doesn’t explain that’s because I wrote a popular business book on him, titled There’s A Customer Born Every Minute.
For a journalist, she cleverly left off statements that would justify what I, and others she mentions in her book, stand for and teach.
The message of her book seems to be to use critical thinking, not positive thinking, in order to make a difference in your life and world. For her, positive thinking can be delusional, while critical thinking can give you a well-rounded view of your choices.
I agree with her.
The thing is, most people who say they are critical thinkers are actually skeptical thinkers. They quickly dismiss concepts without trying them, or demand scientific proof for concepts that are still being researched. That, to me, is delusional.
The most powerful books I’ve read on the subject of critical thinking are by Steve Siebold. His books are wake-up calls to your brain. Read his book 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class, or Die Fat or Get Tough, or read his forthcoming book on mental toughness secrets of the rich.
While I prefer positive thinking over negative thinking, I have to admit that positive thinkers can sometimes be blind to reality. When I had my cancer scare, I didn’t just think positive. I also took massive action. I searched for cures, I contacted all the healers and medical doctors I know, I tried every method offered to me, and I stayed persistent. The end result is a clean bill of health. But I didn’t get there by putting on a happy face and sitting in a corner.
Bright-Sided is a bestselling book and Ehrenreich is getting lots of publicity for it. While she ends the book with a call to be more critical in our thinking, and to take action to get results, I suspect it will mislead many readers. Too many will jump to the conclusion that positive thinking doesn’t work at all. They’ll use the book to justify not being optimistic, or not choosing to feel good. They’ll just keep on complaining.
My reminder to you is that you always have a choice: When confronted with any moment, you can look at it cheerfully, unhappily, or objectively. I prefer the latter but with a positive expectancy.
When I got the heath scare, I at first was walloped with the news. But then I set an intention to find a cure. I expected one because, as I say in my book The Attractor Factor, there’s always a way to handle any problem. My critical thinking — or maybe it’s better called objective thinking — included the possibility that positive action and positive expectation would be better than just unhappiness, happiness, or no action.
I appreciate critical thinking, but it’s subject to delusion, too. Most of the people I know who claim to be critical thinkers still have limiting beliefs and negative attitudes they aren’t even aware are in their own head. They are actually skeptical thinkers as a form of self-protection.
Combine all this with the Law of Attraction and you might see where critical/skeptical thinkers will find evidence for their beliefs, and positive thinkers will find evidence for their own beliefs. They’ll simply attract what they need to support their mindsets.
So how do you get out of this maze so you can have a clear-headed, productive life?
For me, the fastest thing that helps you get mentally clear is having the right coach. I know I’ve said it before but it needs said again: Every high achiever I know has a coach in their area of expertise. The coach can help them see their thinking patterns. The coach can help them stay accountable. The coach can help them achieve the results they want.
If having a coach is part of what Ehrenreich condemns as something that has “undermined America”, then I have to disagree with her. In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest she get a coach to help her unravel her own thinking about “Bright-Sided” being negative. It could also help her heal her psychic wounds.
But as she openly says, it’s “reckless optimism” that bothers her the most. With that in mind, I suggest she’s correct. You don’t want to be recklessly optimistic, but practically optimistic.
In other words, choose what you want, have an optimistic expectancy about the results, take action to attract it, and monitor your progress for feedback and course changes. That’s how you make practical use of the Law of Attraction.
That’s not being “Bright-Sided”, that’s being smart.
Finally, decades ago I had a landlord who made fun of me for reading success literature, such as positive thinking books.
I was struggling, broke and unknown at the time. I was paying him two hundred dollars a month to live in a dumpy little room in his house. I didn’t look like I was going anywhere in life.
He caught me reading a Norman Vincent Peale book (probably Enthusiasm Makes the Difference) and said, “You believe that shit?”
“I sure do, ” I said.
While at the time he questioned me I had no evidence for any future success, and any critical thinking person could have dismissed me as a dreamer, today I’m wealthy and well known.
Was it because I read positive thinking books?
Was it because I chose to be “bright-sided” about life?
Was it because I took massive action and kept a positive expectancy about my future?
What do you think?
PS – Check out my Miracles Coaching program by clicking right here.
Note: The T-shirt I’m wearing in the photo of me and the book says “I Create My Reality.” It’s backward writing. When I look at my shirt in the mirror, I see it clearly. It’s a direct message to my unconscious, and a real conversation starter for others who see it. Call it “Bright-Sided” clothing.
While in the Siberia region of Russia last month, I met many wonderful fans and received numerous loving gifts. One of the latter was the curious figure called Hochun, known in Siberia as Russia’s Secret Wish Maker. He’s a cool Law of Attraction partner.
Hochun is a Russian doll in the same family of the famous Matreshka. The name of the doll comes from the Russian verb “hochu”, which means “I want.” What Hochun does is help you focus on stating what you want, otherwise known as formulating your intention.
Here’s how it works:
What you do is take Hochun and put him before you. You’ll note he has no pupils in his eyes. That’s a little spooky. There’s a reason for this. He needs you and you need him.
You then formulate your wish. It’s important that you are clear and specific, else no one can help you attract your desire, not even Hochun. I love this aspect of using Hochun as your Wish Maker. As I teach people, you can’t attract what you can’t articulate. Neither can Hochun.
After you express your desire, you write it down.
You then take a pen and draw a pupil in one of Hochun’s eyes. He can now see what your desire, wish, or intention is.
You then place him someplace where you can see him, and he can see you. He will remind you of your goal.
Later, after your wish has been fulfilled, you draw in Hochun’s other eye, so he can see your success, too.
I love Hochun. I think this is a smart tool for helping you pinpoint what you want for yourself. Hochun won’t actually do anything to bring your wish about (you still have to take action), but he’s a great help for formulating your desire and reminding you of it.
I’m not aware of Hochun in English, but the Russian site is at www.hochun.ru I am creating a three-part audio system on how to use Hochun to attract what you want in your life. I’ll tell you about it soon.
Reminder: This Friday I’ll post the story of my hair-raising escape from Russia. It won’t be for the faint of heart. Stay tuned.
PS – If you want to use the law of attraction to attract money, Hochun has some advice: Order the beautiful hardcover printed version of my book, Attract Money Now, and get a free DVD of a live presentation by me when you do. Just click here.
Optimism? How can anyone be an optimist during these times? What grounds are there for being optimistic, anyway? Is it at all realistic?
A few weeks ago a friend asked me how I learned to see the good in life and the good in people. The question stopped me. I had to think. It’s true I look for the good in people and in life. It’s true I learned to do it.
But how? When? Why?
I remember being very unhappy in college. One time I sat on the steps of the house I had a room in (back at Kent State University), feeling sad. A couple walking by looked at me. The woman said, “You look really unhappy.”
A close friend of mine in college even went as far as to say I was “naturally pessimistic.”
Decades ago, on the streets of Dallas, jobless and sleepless with worry, I stood at a bus stop. A man crossing the street looked at me and said, “You look terrible.”
That doesn’t happen today.
No one says I am pessimistic today.
Why am I smiling in this recent photo of Lynne McTaggart (author of The Intention Experiment and The Field)?
Why do I smile more often than not these days?
Why am I now “naturally optimistic”?
What happened to the natural pessimist?
Here’s the secret: I’ve spent a fortune to work on myself over the last few decades – meaning I read books, listened to audios, attended events, and got coaches.
All of this personal development helped me erase the beliefs causing my feelings and behavior.
All of this led to a transformation that today is so dramatically different than what I once was, I’m only the same person by name.
The point is this: Anything can be learned. Anyone can change.
The new science of neuro-plasticity is proving it. So is the new science of positive psychology. We live in an exciting world where even science is starting to point to the miraculous.
But back to me seeing the good in people and in life.
I learned from legendary psychologist William James that whatever I focus on will expand. It’s basic Law of Attraction but without the woo-woo. It’s fundamental psychology.
If you look for bad things, you’ll tend to find them, focus on them, and then see more of them. Your focus will “expand” them into your life.
Change your focus and you change your life.
This is why the work of Will Bowen (author of A Complaint-Free World) and his complaint-free world movement is so important. I’m on his board of directors because I know the power of not complaining but instead stating what you want.
In Law of Attraction terms (as explained in my book The Attractor Factor) it simply means don’t state what you don’t want (the complaint) but instead declare what you do want (your intention).
When it comes to other people, Goethe had something to say about this, too:
“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being.”
I’ve also learned that when you find the good in people and situations, you feel better. You’re happier, healthier, and ultimately wealthier.
People around you feel better, too. They don’t have to defend themselves from your complaining about them or trying to change them.
You love them and they feel it.
This is the core of the Zero Limits ho’oponopono process, as well. You don’t try to change anyone. After all, they are mirror images of you, anyway. Whatever you don’t like in them is something you don’t like inside you.
Might as well love what you see.
In short, reality is what you see, and what you see is what you choose.
Whether the glass is half empty or half full is a choice of perception.
It may not feel like a choice when you start practicing this way of living, but only because of habit. As you continue to pause, decide on what you want to see in any moment, and choose the positive view, you soon learn that being an optimist is a very realistic thing to do. It will become your new nature.
I love that more and people are learning to be optimistic about life. There are a long line of books and people teaching us you have a choice about how you can view life. Whether actor Michael J. Fox (author, Always Looking Up) or Joe Vitale (author, Attract Money Now), the lesson is the same: focus on what you want and you’ll tend to bring it about.
Where is your focus?
Dr. Joe Vitale
PS — Nothing works faster to transform you than having your own coach. Please check out my famous Miracles Coaching program. If you want to be optimistic no matter what, and live the life of an optimist breathing optimism, coaching can be your ticket to freedom. Forget reality. It’s only what you perceive, and your perception is under your control.