Thursday, September 17, 2015


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In recent years, there’s been so much written about “Positive Thinking” and “The Law of Attraction” (LOA) that they’ve become almost completely clichéd.

They’re BOTH often seen as syrupy, pseudo-snake oil by many of us and that’s partly the fault of the unrealistic way in which such things have been packaged and marketed...and partly due to the public’s unrealistic interpretations of those things.

Today, those who advocate “Positive Thinking” are often derided as naïve Pollyanna’s because so many of us have apparently “tried and failed” to achieve our dreams and desires through this path.

1st, Positive Thinking is NOT at all easy. (…)

In fact, it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible to change, or convert a negative thinker into a positive one. Our thought patterns seem to be set at a very early age and aren’t very easily changed. Moreover, most negative thinkers don’t see themselves as negative, even when most, if not all those who know them would.

Changing your basic thought patterns and outlook, is no less a daunting task then changing your basic extremely difficult, if not seemingly impossible thing to do.

I was struck awhile back by an article by Tony Norman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette written right after Reverend Frederick J. Eikerenkotter (“The Reverend Ike”) died entitled “The Wretched, Venal Life of Rev. Ike.” (…/The-wret…/stories/200908040223)

In that piece Norman derides the “hucksterism” that was a hallmark of Reverend Ike, a devout preacher of “the Bible of Prosperity.”

Reverend Ike preached the power of what he called "positive self-image psychology" to his 5,000 parishioners at the United Church Science of Living Institute in New York.

In the 1970s, Reverend Ike was one of the first evangelists to reach an audience of millions through television.

"This is the do-it-yourself church," he proclaimed. "The only savior in this philosophy is God in you."

Reverend Ike's preaching re-interpreted basic Christian tenets, by bringing the idea of God into the interior self, with the power to bring the believer anything he or she desired in the way of health, wealth and happiness.

Without question, that philosophy didn’t sit too well with traditional Christian ministers, nor with many civil rights leaders who saw the role of the black churches as social reform, rather than self-fulfillment.

His harshest critics went even further, claiming that he “Preyed upon the poor,” by conning the faithful into giving him donations that he spent on his own lavish lifestyle. The IRS and the Postal Service investigated his businesses without any findings of criminal wrong-doing.

Of course, there were others who defended his philosophy of "mind over matter," which resonated with middle-class believers who felt their hard work should be rewarded here and now, in this life.

One of the Reverend Ike's more colorful exhortations was, "If it's that difficult for a rich man to get into heaven," he said, "think how terrible it must be for a poor man to get in. He doesn't even have a bribe for the gatekeeper."

Of course, Tony Norman didn’t just take the moment to bash the late Reverend Ike, he felt the need to include the likes of renowned self-help writer Norman Vincent Peale and the Crystal Cathedral’s Robert Schuller in his cavalcade of “hucksters.”

In truth ALL of those men were evangelists in “The Gospel of Prosperity.” Whereas traditional Churches cynically taught the faithful that “money is give it to us,” these folks taught their followers that personal prosperity was blessed and there is no virtue in poverty. Especially Norman Vincent Peale offered nothing close to "hucksterism." Peale actually offered truly inspiring tales of the "power of positive thinking," and how a positive outlook could change a life.

All of that was a “New Age” twist on that “Old Time Religion” that sought to make prosperity and productivity respectable again, after eons of misinformed rants about how, “Money being the root of all evil,” which often took to mistaking striving, ambition and productivity for “greed.”

That’s a much needed lesson. In truth there is NO virtue in poverty, and even LESS in the lack of PRODUCTIVITY.

But this “New Age” pro-prosperity message has also been misconstrued. It is NOT a “Get rich quick scheme,” nor should it be marketed as such. It is NOT some “magical route to riches.”

In truth Positive Thinking is truly its own reward.

Positive people are happier. They are more optimistic, even in the face of adversity. They enjoy life more, because they look for the fun and enjoyment in every circumstance.

There are really only two modes of thinking, or “looking at the world” – a positive and a negative one. It really is a binary choice.

Positive Thinkers make the best of any situation and look for the good and the opportunity in everything, while Negative Thinkers find fault in everything and always find something to criticize.

Some may argue that, “There’s also an in-between those two poles, a 3rd choice,” they might call “A practical realism,” but in fact we ALL tend toward one of those two poles. We are all either predominantly POSITIVE or NEGATIVE.

A positive, upbeat attitude that looks for the joy in every situation (“If you can’t get out of it, get into it”) is generally a much happier and healthier outlook.

So, “Can you THINK your way to riches, or not?”

Probably not, at least not in the way most of us conceive of that, BUT our THOUGHTS are practical, tangible THINGS and they DO very much influence what we get out of life and most importantly, how we perceive life to be. How we view the world internally, is ultimately how the world will appear to us externally.

Few, who truly believe, “What’s the use,” truly TRY, or strive. After all, WHY strive for something that you believe to be unattainable?

One of the chief complaints many lodge over Positive Thinking and the LOA is that, “I’ve tried all that and it didn’t work, and of course, the Pollyanna’s all said it was because I ‘didn’t really believe.’ It’s all just BS.”

THAT, in a nutshell, is why it’s nearly impossible to convert a Negative Thinker.

For one thing, they see themselves as “practical,” NOT “negative.”

They don’t understand the idea that merely saying, “I believe,” while harboring real and deep-seated internal self-doubt means nothing. In fact, it probably only amplifies that self-doubt.

Also, focusing on “avoiding the negative,” like, “I will NOT be poor,” or “I will NOT get sick,” or even, "I will get out of debt," brings the thought-focus on poverty, debt and sickness, NOT on wealth and health, so our thoughts tend to animate what we IMAGINE (make an IMAGE of) rather than what we claim to "believe," or even believe we mean.

Beyond the concerns of health and success/personal wealth, the fact is that HAPPINESS is NOT always synonymous with wealth, or fame, or any of the other things we often claim to want. There are many miserable people who are financially well-off and many people who are very sickly and have few possessions that are incessantly upbeat and happy.

Which of them is more “wealthy”?

Often, high income earners spend 70 to 90 hours working at high stress jobs they really don’t like, while many low income earners do jobs that pay less, but take up much less of their time and get them out in the sun and fresh air. In many ways, that income disparity is the cost of balancing off the other (all too often ignored disparities in wealth) leisure time wealth, the wealth of a healthier, lower-stress lifestyles, etc.

In general material wealth is usually a byproduct of high-end production. Producing a large volume of what others WANT, whether that’s food stuffs, Reality TV and/or porn, alcohol-based products, automobiles and/or computers, or junk bonds filling the needs and desires of others is the surest pathway to wealth. The question is, are we willing to produce products, of often dubious value, sometimes even detrimental products (like alcohol, tobacco, porn, etc.) to “enrich ourselves at other’s expense.”

HINT: Those who see such things as “Enriching themselves to the detriment of others,” tend NOT to be able to do such things. That DOESN’T necessarily make such people “better,” or “more enlightened” people, even though many of us might like to think so.

At least one ancient occult verse makes clear; “Do what thy whilst and let the buyer beware shall be the whole of the law.”

THAT is also probably why so few Negative Thinkers actually produce real wealth. That “Why should I submit to serving others” mentality tends to thwart productivity and wealth creation.

The primary mistake that most advocates of Positive Thinking make is, in BEING Positive Thinkers themselves, they naively believe that ANYONE can simply choose to “think positively.” That’s because they can scarcely believe that anyone would innately BE a Negative Thinker.

That view overlooks the reality that our thought patterns are generally set at a very early age. Perhaps we’re even born into them, at least to a certain extent, so it’s no easy feat to change our basic mode of thinking, or our outlook on life, any more than it’s an easy thing to alter our very personalities.

In the same manner, it’s very difficult for Negative Thinkers to see any actual benefit in positive thinking, or that the so-called “benefits” of such an outlook are anything but “BS.”

Since they don’t look at things that way, they don’t easily see how their own negative thoughts influence their overall outlook on life, impacting even the extent to which they will strive and even their very own health, as they see their “negative thought patterns” as “realistic” and nothing more.

As a result neither type of thinker is able to impart very much upon the other, probably as much because our thought patterns and outlooks influence our realities so much so, that the positive thinkers see a largely positive world, filled with opportunities and goodness, while the negative thinkers tend to see a bleak, sparse, unfair world filled mostly with either adversaries, or naïve dolts who inanely look at what they see as “the good” in this overwhelmingly ugly and very negative world.

If our thought patterns don’t create our very world, they DO indeed generate our perceptions of it and those perceptions BECOME our own realities over time.

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