Posts Tagged 'Positive Thinking'

Welcome to 2011!

Hey everyone! I feel like I’ve fallen off the face of the earth lately, at least when it comes to my blog so sorry for the long absence. I’ve been sick since mid-December with a cold and on top of that I recently caught a bad cough and I feel like I’ve been run over by a steamroller, so I haven’t been in the mood for writing lately. 2011 can only get better from here!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season.

You may have noticed I was a huge failure when it comes to positive thinking month. I’ll try to extend it into January but I won’t make any promises! If you were hugely disappointed in the lack of positive thinking stuff fear not! Here’s Gem Newman’s take on Startled Disbelief:

Alright now I’m going back to feeling sorry for myself. Hope to be back soon!

Positive Thinking

So, December is proving to be a terrible month to do an anything “of the month”, but I’ve been trying to fulfill my intentions to read up on the subject of positive thinking, and to inform myself on the evidence for its efficacy. I hope to go more in depth at what science says about positive thinking, but for now here are some of my initial thoughts on the topic.

When I told my husband that I would be doing positive thinking as my skeptical topic of the month, he thought it was a little bit strange because of his experience as an athlete. He plays and coaches hockey, so he’s familiar with the effects that a positive attitude can have on the outcome of a game. If your team is convinced that they’re going to lose, they aren’t going to over-exert themselves to try in futility to score. It’s easier for the players to get over their own insecurities and to play their best if they’re feeling confident.

I was an athlete myself back in my highschool and university days. I was a competitive swimmer, and my best event lasted less than 30 seconds. I had to be positive about my training and abilities, otherwise I would get caught up in making sure my hands were positioned correctly or making sure I didn’t breathe too often. But here’s the thing, no amount of positive thinking would have allowed me to go faster than I was physically able to go. If I hadn’t worked hard enough in practice I couldn’t count on my optimistic brain to push me into the lead. I could visualize myself springing from the blocks the moment the gun went off, but it wouldn’t change the fact that I had terrible reaction time.

Thinking about something doesn’t make it happen, no matter what Oprah tells you.

Out of curiosity I Googled “Positive thinking can”, and here are some of the results that came up:

·       Help you feel better, longer
·       Reduce stress
·       Ease back pain
·       Change your life
·       Increase your wealth, health and happiness
·       Help you attract success
·       Help children feel confident
·       Help you lose weight
Etc…

How can thinking possibly do all of this magic? I have back issues myself, and let me tell you no amount of positive thinking is going to dull that sharp pain like loads of ice and an anti-inflammatory. Though I might be able to distract myself from the pain by thinking about how annoying Deepak Chopra is…

Positive thinking may be helpful in some of these instances. Being a positive person might make people want to be around you, which will increase your chances of having a friend that can help you find wealth or success. But looking at websites and videos that promote positive thinking make it seem as though if only you start to think more positively you’ll suddenly find yourself in a beautiful green meadow with a big blue sky and rolling clouds, basking in your own success while you spin around with your arms in the air in loose, white clothing.

Google Image search results for "positive thinking"

Thoughts aren’t magical. Conjuring something up in your mind isn’t going to make it happen. Positive thinking isn’t going to help you pass that test unless you study. A good attitude won’t shrink that tumor. Optimism won’t give you the money you need to buy your dream home.

Yet there’s an entire industry out there of people who want to sell you the idea that you can get anything you want by sending your positive thoughts out into the universe. On the surface it’s a nice idea. Just be positive! Your dreams will come true! But what really disgusts me about these ideas is the implication that if good things don’t happen for you it’s your fault.

Terminally ill? Maybe you should have a better attitude. Didn’t get the job? Keep sending those positive vibes and you’ll get a job eventually. Depressed? Well maybe you should smile more.

This is what protects the cult of positive thinking: it’s immune to criticism. If it doesn’t work for you it’s because you weren’t doing it right.

Postitive Thinking – December’s Skeptical Topic

Every month I (and anyone else who wants to join me) will be exploring one topic that’s commonly looked at by skeptics, to try to get a good feel for it. I/we’ll be looking at the arguments for and against the subject, reading blogs or listening to podcasts to do with both sides of the issue, and trying to gain an understanding of what science says on the topic.

In mid-November I posted a poll asking what the first subject should be and the winner was positive thinking, so all throughout December I’ll be getting better acquainted with the idea that by thinking positively you can improve your life, heal yourself, and attract good fortune. Of course I’ll also be blogging about it!

If anyone has any suggestions for resources I’d love to hear them!

So far, Gem Newman of Startled Disbelief has agreed to join me. If anyone else would like to join us let me know and I’ll link to your blog. By the way, the Winnipeg Free Press did a fantastic piece on Gem and the Winnipeg Skeptics in today’s paper. It’s rare to see a skeptical group written about so fairly and accurately, I love it!

The First Skeptical Subject of the Month

Starting December 1st I’ll be focusing attention on one particular subject that’s of interest to skeptics, as a way to expose myself to things that I either don’t believe in or have doubts about. I’ll be looking at one topic every month so that I can expose myself to the arguments for and against the things that I dismiss as implausible. Here‘s the blog post where I proposed the idea.

So, since December is approaching fast I thought it’s time to post a poll asking you all what topic you think I should cover. It’s in your hands! I’ve never used a poll on WordPress before, so I’m hoping this works. If you have trouble just let me know what topic you’d like me to cover in the comments! Your options are Organic Food, Positive Thinking or Near-Death Experiences. I also take write-in votes 😉

Also, if anyone wants to join me in the goal of covering a skeptical topic every month, let me know and I’ll link to your blog or I’ll post your “adventures” as guest blog posts!


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