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a book with a view,
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This review is from: Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World (Paperback)Having read 'Who moved my Cheese?'/ Authentic Happiness etc with makes happiness seem so easy to attain , just an attitude really, it is most refreshing to read 'Smile or Die' which comes across as a well researched and clear thinking explanation of how being a realist is more likely to succeed than the endless Pollyanism of Positive Psychology. I was totally enthralled by Seligman's 'Authentic Happiness' and its ideas,even though it didn't seem to work . It must be me, I thought. However, I realise that all emotions, whether joyful or painful, are markers that point out what is/isn't happening in our lives. In her thought provoking study, Ehrenreich neatly lays out the 'Quo bono' question? Who benefits from Positive Psychology ? Big business and the state! WHo pays for research into Positive Psychology? Big business. Why would they do this apart, from humanitarian motives, wanting to share the 'good' attitudes that got them their megabucks, with the rest of us? Well no actually. The writer points out the rather sinister lining behind the 'positive' facade, showing how brain washing under the Shah and in Korea meant that if you questioned the status quo, the poverty and brutality that existed you were spreading defeatism which was a punishable crime. She points out how financial realists such as Gelbrand, who ran the property section of Lehmans were already pointing out that they seriously needed to rethink their 'positive pollyana' attitude, as early as 2006. The CEO, fired him for being negative! She points out that anxiety and realism are tools that help us to survive rather than hinder us. That unchecked optimism that is not based on fact is an undesirable and often dangerous attitude. After all who would go to sea in a storm without safety rafts,flares etc and feel at ease... a child perhaps ? Ehrenreich clearly illustrates how the assumption that 'positive' = good and desirable, has helped us get into the mess we are in at the moment. As she says, if we realistically examine our circumstances, we have far more chance of putting things right and so being happy. As a Psychotherapist and someone interested in living life to the full, I would highly recommend this book.
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Initial post: 1 Mar 2010 14:53:21 GMT
Just ordered this book - can't wait to see what is in it. Seligman's work on Learned Optimism is far from being about blind optimism, that work suggests flexible optimism - using optimism and pessimism appropriately when we know each approach is most effective. The military expression 'prepare for the worst, expect the best' sums this up for me. I would hate to see what I believe to be the defining work in this area tarred with the brush of ' pollyanism'. When you say Authentic Happiness didn't seem to work I wondered what you meant - Seligmans research in the influence professions, in sport, in politics, in health? as detailed in Learned Optimism. I do agree that blind optimism is dangerous (ref financial crash etc etc etc) but I also believe that blind pessimism is dangerous. Anyway I should hold fire until I've read this, but I couldn't help just saying what I though the message from Seligman's work is - I know that it's not about brainwashing, Stepford, and Pollyanna - for me it is the clearest possible advocation of knowing when your learned behaviour is useful or counter-productive, and giving some concrete ideas around re-framing (looking at the world with different eyes). In the end whether we choose to believe that we can choose what to believe is down to us!!! Thanks for your comments - they made me want to get stuck in to the book. Your final comments on what this book does for you is what Seligman did for me. So thanks.
Posted on 24 Sep 2012 13:26:39 BDT
its a slightly tricky one for a pscychotherapist - because people with depression etc really need to get some kind of help (not just tablets), and changing thinking to less 'negative' is an important part of that. Its funny, as being 'negative' might be good in some ways, viz. this book, but on the other hand some types of negative thinking are just plain bad and making the person ill
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