We've all heard it, and probably said it - The book - Bright-sided:

PhillieG
PhillieG Member Posts: 4,866
edited March 2014 in Colorectal Cancer #1
We have all been told to think positive, look on the bright side, there's a bigger meaning behind our cancer...whatever. I saw her interviewed on some show (The Daily Show?) and it cracked me up yet struck a chord with me. Sometimes I want to feel like crap and I don't want to cheer up. Things COULD be worse but they certainly COULD be a hell of a lot better. This sort of sums up (to me) the American concept of everyone feeling they deserve everything just for having a face.

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

~ by Barbara Ehrenreich

Book Description:
A sharp-witted knockdown of America’s love affair with positive thinking and an urgent call for a new commitment to realism

Americans are a “positive” people—cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat: this is our reputation as well as our self-image. But more than a temperament, being positive, we are told, is the key to success and prosperity.

In this utterly original take on the American frame of mind, Barbara Ehrenreich traces the strange career of our sunny outlook from its origins as a marginal nineteenth-century healing technique to its enshrinement as a dominant, almost mandatory, cultural attitude. Evangelical mega-churches preach the good news that you only have to want something to get it, because God wants to “prosper” you. The medical profession prescribes positive thinking for its presumed health benefits. Academia has made room for new departments of “positive psychology” and the “science of happiness.” Nowhere, though, has bright-siding taken firmer root than within the business community, where, as Ehrenreich shows, the refusal even to consider negative outcomes—like mortgage defaults—contributed directly to the current economic crisis.

With the mythbusting powers for which she is acclaimed, Ehrenreich exposes the downside of America’s penchant for positive thinking: On a personal level, it leads to self-blame and a morbid preoccupation with stamping out “negative” thoughts. On a national level, it’s brought us an era of irrational optimism resulting in disaster. This is Ehrenreich at her provocative best—poking holes in conventional wisdom and faux science, and ending with a call for existential clarity and courage.
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Comments

  • dianetavegia
    dianetavegia Member Posts: 1,942
    Hubby likes to say 'If you
    Hubby likes to say 'If you can name it and claim it, how come Benny Hinn has a hairpiece and thick glasses?'

    I am cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat by nature, certainly not bred and raised that way....

    :o)
    Diane
  • AceSFO
    AceSFO Member Posts: 229
    Thanks Phil
    It sounds like an interesting read - I like Barbara Ehrenreich, but I hadn't heard about this one. I'll look for it. John has ideas about the pitfalls of positive thinking and serious illness - specifically how it puts the blame on the person with the illness 'if they don't get better it's their fault" etc but I'll let him speak for himself.
    Thanks for the tip -

    Adrian
  • PhillieG
    PhillieG Member Posts: 4,866

    Hubby likes to say 'If you
    Hubby likes to say 'If you can name it and claim it, how come Benny Hinn has a hairpiece and thick glasses?'

    I am cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat by nature, certainly not bred and raised that way....

    :o)
    Diane

    Funny!
    Diane, I had no idea who Benny Hinn was until I looked him up, I've seen him before but I'm not really familiar with him. I love your husbands saying though.
    (if that's a rug is a darn good one!)

    I'm not trying to say to everyone that we can't be positive but I've had times when I've wanted to floor someone after hearing that or something similar. Next time I will use the Benny Hinn quote
    ;-)
  • PhillieG
    PhillieG Member Posts: 4,866
    AceSFO said:

    Thanks Phil
    It sounds like an interesting read - I like Barbara Ehrenreich, but I hadn't heard about this one. I'll look for it. John has ideas about the pitfalls of positive thinking and serious illness - specifically how it puts the blame on the person with the illness 'if they don't get better it's their fault" etc but I'll let him speak for himself.
    Thanks for the tip -

    Adrian

    Hi Adrian
    First, I'm sorry to hear that your partner has cancer, that just stinks. He should just be positive!!! Just kidding. I don't see how it can hurt to try to be positive but one thing I got out of hearing her briefly was that people often don't know what to say so they feel this "being positive" is always a good thing to say. Jon Stewart compared it to saying "Hi, how are you?" to someone when you really don't give a rat's hoot. I don't think it's good that John had the idea that if he doesn't get better that somehow his lack of positive thinking is somehow the reason. I mean, if he's all droopy bummer dude then that's different but we all should be able to be pissed or whatever and not always keep our chins up. There was one part of the interview where she talked about how we, as Americans, feel entitled to prosperity. It's as if we don't need to work hard and do well in school or anything, we just deserve it somehow. I think that attitude has caused a lot of the world's problems but that's another post on a different site!
    Hang in there.
    -phil
  • 2bhealed
    2bhealed Member Posts: 2,064

    Hubby likes to say 'If you
    Hubby likes to say 'If you can name it and claim it, how come Benny Hinn has a hairpiece and thick glasses?'

    I am cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat by nature, certainly not bred and raised that way....

    :o)
    Diane

    Benny Hinn
    I'm sorry and I don't mean to offend......but Benny Hinn totally creeps me out! EEEEW! I'm with your hubby!

    Yeah, if attitude and positive thinking were everything my sister would not have died. :-(
  • 2bhealed
    2bhealed Member Posts: 2,064
    AceSFO said:

    Thanks Phil
    It sounds like an interesting read - I like Barbara Ehrenreich, but I hadn't heard about this one. I'll look for it. John has ideas about the pitfalls of positive thinking and serious illness - specifically how it puts the blame on the person with the illness 'if they don't get better it's their fault" etc but I'll let him speak for himself.
    Thanks for the tip -

    Adrian

    Not only that but.....
    I got a letter from a zealous Christian "friend" who told me that my sister was dying because she had unrepented sin in her life. Talk about blame the victim. No thank you!
  • PhillieG
    PhillieG Member Posts: 4,866
    2bhealed said:

    Not only that but.....
    I got a letter from a zealous Christian "friend" who told me that my sister was dying because she had unrepented sin in her life. Talk about blame the victim. No thank you!

    That
    is just too weird for me but I've heard it before many times.
    How could someone even THINK that let alone let it come out of their mouth?
    Was their idiot prevention warning light not functioning?
  • thready
    thready Member Posts: 474
    Bright Side?
    Now positive thoughts and warm fuzzies do help keep my spirits up and they do help me be courages but my fight with cancer is becoming more about having the courage to get through today even when the smile is overtaken by tears.

    I am on of those nauseating people who looks at the bright side and I believe that being positive is essential to my well being, but there are times when, at best, the bright side is very dull. If we do not have the courage to face this beast (no matter how we choose to face it) we are doomed. So positive thoughts makes me feel better, but courage is what will win the fight.

    The people on this board are the most courages people I have ever seen and it is your display of courage that lets me know I can do the same. Thanks to all of you!
    Jan
  • luv3jay
    luv3jay Member Posts: 533
    2bhealed said:

    Not only that but.....
    I got a letter from a zealous Christian "friend" who told me that my sister was dying because she had unrepented sin in her life. Talk about blame the victim. No thank you!

    I, unfortunately, have been
    I, unfortunately, have been told the same thing in my "Christian" community. That perhaps because of some things that I am or have done has prevented God from blessing me to the point of healing! It's sad, but true. Christians who aren't "sick" in any way, seem to think they are entitled to throw stones living in their glass houses. As if God understands and forgives their particular "sins"...but not mine. Anyway, I just let it roll off and keep my positive thoughts flowing! :-)

    -Sheri
  • dianetavegia
    dianetavegia Member Posts: 1,942
    Well, Jesus was asked 'Who
    I think everyone here knows I'm a devout Christian (Southern Baptist). Even so,

    Jesus was asked 'Who sinned this man or his parents?' (blind guy) Jesus said 'Neither'. Emily, That friend was way off base! Ignorant, in fact!

    I have been called Pollyanna more than once in my life. Ward and June Cleaver. I do think I tend to see the bright sides of MOST things.... but for the life of me.... CANCER???

    You either love me or hate me.

    :o)

  • 2bhealed
    2bhealed Member Posts: 2,064
    Optimist
    hey Phil interesting topic.

    Yeah, I feel I look at the bright side of life and try to remain upbeat and put a positive spin on bad things happening....but! I also like to remain real about what's going on. If I'm feeling down I don't pretend that life is all hunky-dory. I like to keep it real.

    What I struggle with is when people act all happy happy and never allow you to see their "real" emotions so that puts pressure on you to keep it all happy happy and then no one is being real. I went through this with my sister and it drove me nuts. Bless her heart, she was so very brave and in a lot of ways my hero, but I wished she would have opened up and shared her fears before she died. I think we would have had some "real" intimate moments that I could cherish.

    When I was dx'ed I tried hard to be more transparent to what was going on with me, but with a bunch of kids, I found it hard to balance that. I came to a greater understanding of what my sister may have struggled with as she lay dying.

    I think this Barbara person has many good points to ponder. I have to agree that there seems to be a universal entitlement feeling with Americans.


    As for mega-churches, do you wonder if maybe prosperous people are drawn to those types of churches so they can be validated for seeking earthly riches? Just a thought. I wonder what comes first. So the pulpit is going to "sing it to the choir" so to speak? (I happen to want earthly riches myself so I'm not looking down on wealth--not at all- just to clarify).

    (I've also been in churches where the focus has been on casting out evil so it seemed like there was a lot of evil lurking around).

    But I will say, I am more drawn to people who put out a positive vibe than a negative one though I married a realist and a cynic. HA! Go figure. I guess one Pollyanna in a family is enough. :-)

    peace, emily
  • 2bhealed
    2bhealed Member Posts: 2,064

    Well, Jesus was asked 'Who
    I think everyone here knows I'm a devout Christian (Southern Baptist). Even so,

    Jesus was asked 'Who sinned this man or his parents?' (blind guy) Jesus said 'Neither'. Emily, That friend was way off base! Ignorant, in fact!

    I have been called Pollyanna more than once in my life. Ward and June Cleaver. I do think I tend to see the bright sides of MOST things.... but for the life of me.... CANCER???

    You either love me or hate me.

    :o)

    I was steaming mad!
    when I got that letter. Who was SHE to judge....ok don't get me going! HA!

    There are plenty of examples where Jesus was trying to show us to not judge. We just don't seem to get the lesson. I've been there....sitting on the judgment seat, but to tell someone whose sister is dying such a horrible thing as that. I mean, what was I supposed to do with that? Go to Shannon and say, listen sister, repent or die? I don't think so.

    Phil, how the heck did you get your phrase to flash and all?? You amaze me.

    peace, emily the sinner
  • dianetavegia
    dianetavegia Member Posts: 1,942
    My hubby, too, Emily.
    My hubby, too, Emily. Except when it comes to my health. He keeps saying 'You'll be okay'.

    I Hate Cancer
  • lesvanb
    lesvanb Member Posts: 905
    ain't dead yet!
    is a useful responder though I try to only say that to folks who get it because those others know not what they do (I'm a buddapelian- a cross between an episcopalian and a buddhist)

    My question to you Phil and Diana how do you get those banners and flashing sentences come up? I can't even bold or italicize my posts!??!

    Leslie
  • eric38
    eric38 Member Posts: 583
    thready said:

    Bright Side?
    Now positive thoughts and warm fuzzies do help keep my spirits up and they do help me be courages but my fight with cancer is becoming more about having the courage to get through today even when the smile is overtaken by tears.

    I am on of those nauseating people who looks at the bright side and I believe that being positive is essential to my well being, but there are times when, at best, the bright side is very dull. If we do not have the courage to face this beast (no matter how we choose to face it) we are doomed. So positive thoughts makes me feel better, but courage is what will win the fight.

    The people on this board are the most courages people I have ever seen and it is your display of courage that lets me know I can do the same. Thanks to all of you!
    Jan

    Attitude
    There is a difference between having a positive attitude and going overboard. I have a positive attitude and a peace that I can`t quite understand given the circumstances. Yes, I am a christian and I believe there is a higher purpose but I do not believe that people die because they are not positive enough. That would be highly offensive to me if somebody told me I was dieing because of my attitude but attitude does affect your over all outlook and allows you to enjoy things more. I believe in being positive but I am a realist. I am all too aware that there is a high probability that I will not be around in ten years. I also believe that there is always hope. People on this board prove that miracles happen. Do I think because I don`t want to die and I believe in God that I won`t die? NO. If I was on a sinking ship would I be so blind as to not recognize that there was water all around me? No. Do I think people don`t have the right to get angry about their situation or get depressed? No. But lingering on it will only cause you stress and pain and giving up will shorten your life span. That is why I believe a positive attitude is key. I also believe if you want to rant and rave and get angry that you should. Those things should not be held in as long is it is not done at the expense of others. Meaning I think you should be able to express yourself but not take it out on your loved ones and make them miserable. For now, I will believe that I can beat this disease until proven otherwise. When and if hospice shows up at my door am I going to refuse to believe that the ship is sinking and I am going to magically get out of bed and be healthy once again or feel guilty that I did not think positively enough to keep myself alive? No. I will keep a positive attitude and enjoy my life no matter how long it may or may not be.


    P.s.
    When I said I think you shouldn`t take it out on your family that does not mean you should not express yourself and share your feelings. I was talking about being mean or hateful to them. You should express your feelings. That helps them and you. You may be depriving them of a blessing by not allowing them to be a part of the process. Like Emily said , she wishes her sister would have opened up to her. You could leave your loved ones feeling the same way. Don`t let your sense of nobility or bravery deprive you and your family of a blessing. I have to watch that myself because I tend to have a suffer in silence type of personality but I do keep a positive attitude most of the time.

    Eric
  • Shayenne
    Shayenne Member Posts: 2,342
    lesvanb said:

    ain't dead yet!
    is a useful responder though I try to only say that to folks who get it because those others know not what they do (I'm a buddapelian- a cross between an episcopalian and a buddhist)

    My question to you Phil and Diana how do you get those banners and flashing sentences come up? I can't even bold or italicize my posts!??!

    Leslie

    I guess...
    ...I'm one of those people you want to floor when someone says "Stay Positive" sorry, it isn't because we don't know what to say, I just am always trying to focus on positive energies, and not the negative energies, like Eric, it's bad for stress, and I sure don't want to bring a room full of people down. I am a realist as well, I know I may die even TOMORROW. This disease may be the end of me, I think of myself when my time comes in hospice as well, how my family will be, how they will react, just because one says to stay positive all the time, doesn't mean they are, us positive people do die of cancer, but I won't let it change the way I act, or my disposition on anything, I am usually an upbeat person as well, and wish to just cheer people up as well, I like to put smiles on faces when I don't see one, I don't like to depress people, I refuse too.

    I thank God everyday I'm here for each day, but if people are getting annoyed by a nice phrase, then fine, but I sure won't slam people for doing it.

    Hugsss!
    ~Donna
  • eric38
    eric38 Member Posts: 583
    lesvanb said:

    ain't dead yet!
    is a useful responder though I try to only say that to folks who get it because those others know not what they do (I'm a buddapelian- a cross between an episcopalian and a buddhist)

    My question to you Phil and Diana how do you get those banners and flashing sentences come up? I can't even bold or italicize my posts!??!

    Leslie

    Lesvanb
    That is a great way to describe it. Keep it simple. I had a wordy reply and you said it all in 3 words. Ain`t dead yet. Love it.

    Eric
  • PhillieG
    PhillieG Member Posts: 4,866

    My hubby, too, Emily.
    My hubby, too, Emily. Except when it comes to my health. He keeps saying 'You'll be okay'.

    I Hate Cancer

    Nice ticker
    Diane, cool ticker. This site will let us do some neat stuff with HTML but we can't post photos or even links to them anymore. When you type in "g if" it comes out as ***, same with "j pg".

    I think my message or the authors message wasn't posted clear, I'll try again.
  • PhillieG
    PhillieG Member Posts: 4,866
    Seeing her gave me a different perspective of her
    I heard her talk about when she battled breast cancer and how everyone kept telling her to "be positive". At times she did not want to be positive yet that's all she heard. She came off (to me) with some sarcasm in her comments. She was not saying "Do not be positive" but it was more of a statement on how people, who had absolutely no idea of what she was going through constantly telling her to "be positive". It seemed like they were not allowing her to feel like crap at all for having cancer and going through chemo.

    So, I am not, nor did I feel she was saying "it's bad to have a positive outlook". It seems by many of the responses that some of you think that was her view (or my view).

    I don't think I presented this post well...
    Can't get them all right!
    -phil
    (can I feel bad about it???)
  • AceSFO
    AceSFO Member Posts: 229
    PhillieG said:

    Hi Adrian
    First, I'm sorry to hear that your partner has cancer, that just stinks. He should just be positive!!! Just kidding. I don't see how it can hurt to try to be positive but one thing I got out of hearing her briefly was that people often don't know what to say so they feel this "being positive" is always a good thing to say. Jon Stewart compared it to saying "Hi, how are you?" to someone when you really don't give a rat's hoot. I don't think it's good that John had the idea that if he doesn't get better that somehow his lack of positive thinking is somehow the reason. I mean, if he's all droopy bummer dude then that's different but we all should be able to be pissed or whatever and not always keep our chins up. There was one part of the interview where she talked about how we, as Americans, feel entitled to prosperity. It's as if we don't need to work hard and do well in school or anything, we just deserve it somehow. I think that attitude has caused a lot of the world's problems but that's another post on a different site!
    Hang in there.
    -phil

    I didn't express it very well
    Hi, Phil,

    No, he's not blaming himself or anything like that - he thinks that that is one of the problems with the positive thinking approach. I think he's got about the same mindset as Ehrenreich. He never said "why me" and was never angry about the Dx - we've always approached it as a way to grow. He always thought that telling people they can cure themselves by positive thinking is bad. That's what I was trying to convey. It's such a complicated topic though - of course we are hopeful and focus on living really well, but we don't really believe that a positive attitude in itself can be a miracle cure. I find it can be a really annoying thing to hear over and over "think Positively!! It's SO important!!" arrgh. I think we're all on the same page about it.

    The first two sentences of your reply were great! I cracked up without even getting to the "just kidding" part. We had a crappy day with some less than good news and that gave me a good laugh. Thanks! - you didn't even need to include the "just kidding" - I got it. I'm from northern NJ too and I think that gives us a certain sense of humor that doesn't go over well with everyone.

    More later - I'm back at work trying to get caught up so I'll keep this short. Just wanted to clear up what I had poorly stated before. I wrote down the title and I'm going to see if our local library has it. One of those nasty socialist public libraries that plague our country. ok on that note...