The Perils of Positive Thinking

I think the major point — that a unquestioning devotion to “positive thinking” is both dangerous and immoral — is a good one. We definitely allow suffering because we think everyone has a shot, so if they’re suffering, it must be their fault. It’s pretty easy to see how comforting this is, to people on top.

There are poor people who are poor because they are lazy or bad.  There are rich people who are rich because they have worked hard and applied intelligence.  What we don’t like to recognize, however, is that there are also poor people who are poor despite living right and working hard, and there are rich people who are rich despite being lazy or stupid.

Luck plays a huge role in our lives.  The part of our lives that result from forces outside our control — luck, history, social mores, etc. — probably dwarfs the fragment of our lives we can directly influence.  And that terrifies people.  It means that maybe, just maybe, their success isn’t really deserved.  Maybe the fact that they have a giant house and three cars and five iPhones doesn’t mean that they’re better people than someone who struggles to find food every day.  And if that’s the case, then maybe they should help out those who are struggling.

But no one wants to hear that, so they prefer to imbibe The Secret and believe that they are the root cause of all they have.

We are a sad, little species.