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The Power of Negative Thinking
Wall Street Journal ^ | December 7, 2012 | OLIVER BURKEMAN

Posted on 12/09/2012 5:55:50 PM PST by lbryce

The holiday season poses a psychological conundrum. Its defining sentiment, of course, is joy—yet the strenuous effort to be joyous seems to make many of us miserable. It's hard to be happy in overcrowded airport lounges or while you're trying to stay civil for days on end with relatives who stretch your patience.

So to cope with the holidays, magazines and others are advising us to "think positive"—the same advice, in other words, that Norman Vincent Peale, author of "The Power of Positive Thinking," was dispensing six decades ago. (During holidays, Peale once suggested, you should make "a deliberate effort to speak hopefully about everything.") The result all too often mirrors the famously annoying parlor game about trying not to think of a white bear: The harder you try, the more you think about one.

Just thinking in sober detail about worst-case scenarios can help to sap the future of its anxiety-producing power.

Variations of Peale's positive philosophy run deep in American culture, not just in how we handle holidays and other social situations but in business, politics and beyond. Yet studies suggest that peppy affirmations designed to lift the user's mood through repetition and visualizing future success often achieve the opposite of their intended effect.

Fortunately, both ancient philosophy and contemporary psychology point to an alternative: a counterintuitive approach that might be termed "the negative path to happiness." This approach helps to explain some puzzles, such as the fact that citizens of more economically insecure countries often report greater happiness than citizens of wealthier ones. Or that many successful businesspeople reject the idea of setting firm goals.

One pioneer of the "negative path" was the New York psychotherapist Albert Ellis, who died in 2007. He rediscovered a key insight of the Stoic philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome:

(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: negativethinking; reversepsychology
That's great. I'm feeling better already just thinking about how bad things are, and feeling great at expecting the very worst is coming to come. ...... H'm.... But Wait. If I expect the worst is to come then logically I should not be feeling very well. But not feeling well is actually the power of negative thinking that makes you feel good......

I'll tell you what make me fell not very good. Not being a journalist. These guys actually get paid for writing dumb-as* articles like this, and even feel good about getting paid so well. Mind-boggling. They make counter-intuitive seem absolutely logical in a reverse, mirror-image convoluted,circumlocution doppleganger sort of way.

1 posted on 12/09/2012 5:56:05 PM PST by lbryce
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To: lbryce

This “think positive” drivel has always driven me crazy. If you must say it, at least get it right: The correct term is think positively-—LOL! Mr. Peal got it wrong.


2 posted on 12/09/2012 6:02:47 PM PST by basil (Second Amendment Sisters.org)
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To: lbryce

So, why did you post it? To posture as a person superior to the author?


3 posted on 12/09/2012 6:11:01 PM PST by Revolting cat! (Bad things are wrong! Ice cream is delicious!)
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To: basil

. And you got his name wrong!


4 posted on 12/09/2012 6:13:37 PM PST by mommyq
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To: lbryce

The holidays have long been stress from start to finish. I used to always start the Christmas holidays off sending cards to a long list; at one time at least 75 people. Then one year, I decided to just wait - until someone sent us a card - then I would answer the card with a card from us. THAT cut down on it hugely. I surmised that if anyone really wanted to swap cards with us; they’d do so. It then relieved those who didn’t want to send cards. - We still get the braggadocio holiday “newsletters” from a few people; but we don’t do newsletters ourselves. Some friends who used to do those elaborate and braggy newsletters don’t anymore because of some less than fairytale events in their lives. (I was sorry their illusions of perfection got deflated.) - Doing stuff you don’t want to do for the holidays and then collapsing from exhaustion is not very honest, or smart.


5 posted on 12/09/2012 6:14:43 PM PST by Twinkie (The WICKED walk on every side when EVIL men are exalted. Psalm 12:8)
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To: lbryce

I just had to comment about the Power of Negative Thinking. For years we (our little circle of political activists) have had an on going debate about whether it is more efficacious to be positive about good things or to be negative about bad things.

I don’t know for certain the “correct” answer, but I’m all in for negative thinking as being the best path for results.

There are hundreds of debate points on both sides. In my HUMBLE opinion the negative side wins using the examples of the Declaration of Independence is very negative and the Ten Commandments are loaded with “thou shall not(s).” Obviously, both have been very effective and withstood the tests of time ... and should even crush the Obamanistas in due time.

So three grumbling cheers for the keepers of the negative flames. May before you pass on to the great beyond, you have the chance to burn down your obnoxious neighbor’s house :(


6 posted on 12/09/2012 6:14:49 PM PST by taxcutisapayraise (Making Statism Unpopular)
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To: Revolting cat!
Is that the best you can muster up? That I posted the article to posture as a person superior to the author?

Is that why you queried me on why I posted the article to posture as a person superior to the poster?

7 posted on 12/09/2012 6:24:17 PM PST by lbryce (BHO:"Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds by way Oppenheiner at Trinity NM)
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To: lbryce

The power of Low Expectations.


8 posted on 12/09/2012 6:28:50 PM PST by headstamp 2 (What would Scooby do?)
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To: lbryce

You’re so correct. It’s navelgazing past the last piece of lint.


9 posted on 12/09/2012 6:36:33 PM PST by Attention Surplus Disorder (This stuff we're going through now, this is nothing compared to the middle ages.)
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To: headstamp 2

Catbert in the Dilbert TV cartoon said something to the effect of expect the worst in people and most of the time you will be right.


10 posted on 12/09/2012 6:42:31 PM PST by wally_bert (There are no winners in a game of losers. I'm Tommy Joyce, welcome to the Oriental Lounge.)
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To: Twinkie

I am at the point where I really dread Christmas and am glad when it ends.

It is the same stuff I get caught up in by relatives who want to go to the same Christmas events at the same places and are always on the lookout for new ones just like the old ones to reinforce the experience. They are always on days where I want nothing more than to be left alone to do things I want and need to do.

I can forget a free weekend throughout the month of December. If I can have a couple of hours on a Saturday or Sunday, it is a miracle.

I will do my shopping online this coming week and get the few stocking stuffers and I should be done.


11 posted on 12/09/2012 6:46:41 PM PST by wally_bert (There are no winners in a game of losers. I'm Tommy Joyce, welcome to the Oriental Lounge.)
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To: Twinkie

I am at the point where I really dread Christmas and am glad when it ends.

It is the same stuff I get caught up in by relatives who want to go to the same Christmas events at the same places and are always on the lookout for new ones just like the old ones to reinforce the experience. They are always on days where I want nothing more than to be left alone to do things I want and need to do.

I can forget a free weekend throughout the month of December. If I can have a couple of hours on a Saturday or Sunday, it is a miracle.

I will do my shopping online this coming week and get the few stocking stuffers and I should be done.


12 posted on 12/09/2012 6:47:06 PM PST by wally_bert (There are no winners in a game of losers. I'm Tommy Joyce, welcome to the Oriental Lounge.)
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To: basil

I totally agree. All this “law of attraction” stuff makes me livid


13 posted on 12/09/2012 6:47:14 PM PST by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: taxcutisapayraise

My guru says negative thought 9 times more powerful than positive one. So have to think positive a LOT and eliminate the negative thoughts. This does not mean to not think over contingencies - but do it and don’t dwell on them and ruminate.


14 posted on 12/09/2012 7:07:52 PM PST by ichabod1 (Spriiingtime for islam, and tyranny. Winter for US and frieeends. . .)
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To: Twinkie

I quit sending cards years ago, especially to people that I will see during the season. I can wish them Merry Christmas in person, or those I call because they are close friends and wish them Merry Christmas...I would be perfectly happy if no one sent me a card...My kids do yet they have Christmas at my house...its downright silly and expensive. cost of cards and stamps.....After years they still send me cards and I am then obligated to return Merry Christmas....Years back I’d send out 50 or 60 and then it just seems silly....the one that got the most cards was the most popular to some people and they’d brag about how many cards they sent and got.....Off my list entirely... Better to put that amount of money to Salvation Army. They do good with it, or St. Jude. Those are my 2 charitys that put money to good use....


15 posted on 12/09/2012 7:15:50 PM PST by goat granny
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To: lbryce
Mickey Gilley "The Power Of Positive Drinkin'"
16 posted on 12/09/2012 7:17:51 PM PST by ansel12 (A.Coulter2005(truncated)Romney will never recover from his Court's create of a right to gay marriage)
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To: wally_bert

I know how you can halve a portion of your tedious work.


17 posted on 12/09/2012 7:39:37 PM PST by loungitude (The truth hurts.)
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To: mommyq

I see that I did-—LOL!


18 posted on 12/09/2012 8:10:50 PM PST by basil (Second Amendment Sisters.org)
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To: lbryce

One piece of advice I always remember: things are never as good as they seem when they are good or as bad as they seem when they are bad.


19 posted on 12/09/2012 8:17:45 PM PST by TexasKamaAina
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To: lbryce

Funny really! But perhaps there is some balance:

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, THINK on these things.


20 posted on 12/09/2012 8:30:12 PM PST by Lake Living
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To: headstamp 2

www.despair.com for those who dislike the motivational posters in offices.


21 posted on 12/09/2012 9:27:40 PM PST by bravo whiskey
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To: wally_bert

Christmas shouldn’t be this way either. - Neither should Thanksgiving. - Lately, we’ve established a tradition of going over to a nearby state park (Thanksgiving evening) and having the Thanksgiving buffet; sometimes to Shoney’s or other places. None of the cooking like we did for many years, none of the mess of pots and pans. (Fun for the guys; the WOMEN not so much.) This year, I got manipulated into getting back into that trap since my husband’s very elderly cousin insisted on us coming over there. It was OK; I was glad I could help her out in that (she is 84 or 85!). I told husband afterwards that it was not going to become a TRADITION, not for me (like things tend to do with him); that it just WAS NOT RIGHT. He agreed; and I was surprised.


22 posted on 12/10/2012 2:34:43 PM PST by Twinkie (The WICKED walk on every side when EVIL men are exalted. Psalm 12:8)
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To: lbryce
There is this book, The Secret, that is one of the latest secular "Power of Positive Thinking" self-help books... and this link is to the best review I ever read on Amazon. Hilarious.
23 posted on 12/10/2012 2:53:28 PM PST by Rodamala
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