I’m stupefied by the current trend of promoting relentless positivity and affirmations in the mirror as the swift route to everything fabulous in life. Ever since I first dived into the ‘how to live your dream’ industry in search of information about what makes it possible for people to be adventuresome, I’ve come across some great tips for making exciting stuff happen. I’ve also come across an awful lot of bunk.
With apologies to anyone who is really into mirror affirmations, I’m personally much more drawn to the idea of actual, bona fide, proof of performance.
Hence my delight in finding Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright-sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America. It’s a bit of a rant (just a bit), but it is refreshingly in my corner of the universe on this topic. The idea that thinking positively – and only that – will bring you everything you want in life seems to me a recipe for not only lots of disappointment, but also plenty of neurosis over why nothing is good is happening yet. Am I just not positive enough? Do I need to smile more brightly at myself when I’m doing my affirmations? What’s wrong with me?
I’m all for a positive, can-do attitude. Moping and whining are adventure’s kryptonite, turning great possibility into a quivering mass of would’a-could’a-should’a. But I really, strongly believe positive attitude needs to be coupled with positive action.
Then, instead of looking in the mirror and saying ‘that bright shiny person deserves to have something exciting happen to them’, you get to say ‘that bright, capable person has done 3 things this week that are absolutely making exciting stuff happen‘.
That gets me way more cranked about how my future’s going to look. OK, so this analogy still involves looking in a mirror. I don’t actually speak to myself that way. But if you’re going to, isn’t that a way cooler thing to be able to say?