The author behind the new One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life, Mitch Horowitz, is apparently the first to present “a serious and broad-ranging treatment and history of the positive-thinking movement.”
Although I’ve posted in the past on such related topics as “positive versus rational thinking” and how negative thinking can actually be more helpful than its opposite, I also believe positive thinking has its uses. But it’s all in how you approach it.
First, some ways it doesn’t work for me? How about when positive thinking isn’t based in reality, when it involves the implication of blaming people for not getting what they want, and when others are judged for not thinking “right.” What does work for me? When it’s acknowledged that needed changes in one’s life can occur with the aid of hopeful thinking that’s also rational.
Positive thinking as a movement holds that thoughts are causative. Which also happens, by the way, to be a basic belief of one of the types of therapy currently considered most effective, cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Although Horowitz concluded from his research that the positive thinking movement needs to be “reformed,” he also cites successes. The following mini-documentary, directed by Ronni Thomas, introduces what Horowitz discovered while studying the positive thinking movement:
Selected Book Reviews
Judith Viorst: “Serious skeptics, true believers, and seekers of every stripe will want to read Mitch Horowitz’s vibrant, probing, and richly researched account of the impact of the positive-thinking movement on every aspect of American life today. Filled with a cast of remarkable characters and many lively tales, One Simple Idea is a readable, responsible examination of the limits and possibilities of mind-power as a source of constructive transformation.”
Publishers Weekly: “Horowitz offers a spell-binding survey of the evolution and persistence of positive thinking and its shaping of modern America.”
Booklist: “Even those who are critical of the positive-thinking movement…are likely to agree that this is a well-researched, thoughtful, and frequently surprising history of the subject…the point is to educate and inform, and the author does that splendidly.”