HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » Video & Multimedia (Forum) » Barbara Ehrenreich - Smi...

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 01:17 AM

Barbara Ehrenreich - Smile or Die: How Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Undermined America


26 replies, 6341 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 26 replies Author Time Post
Reply Barbara Ehrenreich - Smile or Die: How Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Undermined America (Original post)
limpyhobbler Sep 2012 OP
Bozvotros Sep 2012 #1
Manifestor_of_Light Sep 2012 #2
BREMPRO Sep 2012 #3
Populist_Prole Sep 2012 #4
fasttense Sep 2012 #5
Solly Mack Sep 2012 #6
raccoon Sep 2012 #7
3128 Sep 2012 #8
valerief Sep 2012 #9
drm604 Sep 2012 #10
Gregorian Sep 2012 #11
99th_Monkey Sep 2012 #15
Gregorian Sep 2012 #17
CanSocDem Sep 2012 #12
99th_Monkey Sep 2012 #14
JDPriestly Sep 2012 #18
99th_Monkey Sep 2012 #20
JDPriestly Sep 2012 #21
CanSocDem Sep 2012 #22
99th_Monkey Sep 2012 #13
JDPriestly Sep 2012 #19
99th_Monkey Sep 2012 #23
Quixote1818 Sep 2012 #16
DeSwiss Sep 2012 #24
freedom fighter jh Sep 2012 #25
Kurovski Sep 2012 #26

Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 02:23 AM

1. Brilliant stuff.

Well worth watching. Thanks for sharing this. See also Firesign Theatre's "I think we're all Bozos on this Bus."

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 03:22 AM

2. This is like herman cain saying "It's your fault you can't find a job."

My parents gave me that shit in the 1990s, and they were lifelong Democrats!! Bitched and moaned about all the money they spent on me for college, and wondered why my fabulous education couldn't get me a job!!!
Guess I don't belong to the right in-crowd that finds jobs for each other.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 03:30 AM

3. well done! good advocate for more collective "realism" rather than current mass "delusions"

especially in corporate and political arena.

one recent example. the RNC .. one big mass delusion..!!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 04:15 AM

4. Pithy stuff

You can't substitute bullshit for reality but that's what passes for the normal discourse in the political and media message; or at least as long as they need us to buy that BS. You see, first they tell you your pain is illusory. Then when you finally get pissed off and confront them on their BS they flatly tell you your pain is inconsequential.

"Trust us" becomes "Fuck You".

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 06:17 AM

5. Oprah really annoys me with her power of positive thinking crap.

 

I'm glad she's gone off the main stream TV. She got too rich and forgot abut her roots.

Does she really believe she was sexually abused as a child because she was sending out the wrong thoughts?

If just thinking "right" was all that was required to change the world then there would be NO suffering. Who wants to get old? Who wants to get sick? Who wants to be poor? No one and if just thinking is all it takes then no one would be suffering. Yet suffering is all around us. And suffering gets worse the more we claim it only takes happy thoughts to stop calamity and suffering.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 08:11 AM

6. K&R

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 08:35 AM

7. K&R. Great video. nt

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 08:41 AM

8. duh...

 

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 12:06 PM

9. K&R

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 01:11 PM

10. K&R for Realism

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 01:48 PM

11. Reeeeeeally important. This is so basic to most problems we face today. Unfortunately,

I can't send this to the people who need it the most. They just wouldn't get it.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Gregorian (Reply #11)

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 07:06 PM

15. You may also like

 

The Chris Hedges interview I posted downstring, and which I'm
shamelessly promoting, as it relates importantly to this Barbara
Ehrenreich message.

Happy Labor Day!!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to 99th_Monkey (Reply #15)

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 11:52 PM

17. Chris Hedges is on the top of my list.

He is so right on.

Thanks!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 03:48 PM

12. Read this in Harper's a few years ago...

 



...right after I had purchased a subscription for the brilliant essays of Lewis Lapham.

Because I believe in the power of correct thinking, this article seemed like an omen against my new subscription. In the same issue, Laphams retirement was announced.

GRRRR....

But back to Barbara's little rant. Of course it's not her fault; she's bright and articulate and fully aware of all the social forces that make some peoples lives more difficult or shorter than others. Even those of us who believe in the power of our own thoughts can see that some people are having difficulty. Most of us are sensitive enough not to start casting blame at, either the persons attitude or at some other intellectual construction that may or may not be involved.

We can't live someone elses life, I learned long ago. We can offer assistance and support without infringing on an individuals right to exist as they see fit. Our chief goal should always be to EMPOWER the individual. If Ehrenreich wants to throw up her hands and say we have no power then she is as guilty of depressing the collective psyche as she claims the positive thinkers are.

The American corporate culture is all about creating thoughtless, powerless consumers. People who think for themselves and march to their own drumbeat are exactly the kind of people who are vilified by the corporate institutions.

.



























Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to CanSocDem (Reply #12)

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 07:03 PM

14. "We do have power. We have COLLECTIVE power ...

 

...which we could use to end a great deal of unnecessary suffering in the world."

These are the last words of the video, in case you missed them.

In light of the above, how can you say "If Ehrenreich wants to throw up her hands
and say we have no power then she is as guilty of depressing the collective psyche
as she claims the positive thinkers are." ??

Elsewhere you also say "Our chief goal should always be to EMPOWER the INDIVIDUAL."
which contrasts sharply with Ehrenreich's emphasis on the COLLECTIVE power we
have when we somehow find ways to successfully organize ourselves at the base,
to manifest in a way that reframes the collective psyche, changes the conversation,
and sheds a bright light onto the shadowy corruption, unfettered greed, and criminal
behavior of our ruling class.

BTW - you may want to check out the Chris Hedges piece that I posted down-string.

Happy Labor Day!!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to CanSocDem (Reply #12)

Tue Sep 4, 2012, 02:10 AM

18. I did not understand Ehrenreich to be throwing up her hands and saying we have

no power. I think that what Ehrenreich may be objecting to is making people feel guilty if they get angry at bad treatment.

No. When Romney and Bain bought out good companies, bankrupted them and sent the employees packing, something bad happened. Those who profited from it may feel positive about it, but those who lost their livelihoods are right to be honestly angry and sad. The people who lost out did nothing wrong. The people who took exorbitant profits and left good people to fend for themselves did.

I have a friend who bought into the Secret lock, stock and barrel. She was always energetic, creative and pleasant, and since she has adopted this new "positive" philosophy she has developed a superficial, artificial optimism. Money is no object to her you would think -- and yet she was nearly foreclosed on her expensive home.

Her situation is quite dismal. Her "cheerfulness" is oppressive and dishonest in my view. I think she is a bit crazy. It's disturbing to be around her. She is always making fantastic plans and hops from one thing to the other. I suspect that she is suffering from pathological mood swings and that, rather than face the depression that is causing her problems, she calls it "positive thinking."

I think I understand how important thinking can be for success. Clearly, a person who completely lacks confidence can't achieve much. My personal experience is that focusing on what you want, analyzing what it will take you to get it and then comparing that to your strengths and weaknesses is the way to go. I find it works to be realistic but resilient. Setting unrealistic goals just makes us fail and then blame ourselves and become depressed. Telling ourselves that failure is a possibility and then analyzing in advance what the alternatives are if we don't succeed is, in my view, a good strategy.

The essential factor in my method (which has worked in my life) is being realistic -- neither optimistic nor pessimistic -- just realistic and calm about it -- very calm.

I have not achieved all I would have liked to achieve, but when I look back I am pleased that I did some modest things very well. I have used my talents to help others who were in difficulty and could not understand how to help themselves. That is the most gratifying professional achievement that anyone could hope for.

And that is another thing about the whole positive thinking bit that I don't like. The people who follow it set very materialistic goals. Today I'm going to get x dollars. That's the positive thought. That is just dumb in my view. Money is a means, not a goal.

I prefer these kinds of goals. Today I'm going to smile at someone who feels sad or even, today I'm going to be honest with myself.

I have a friend who was going through a difficult time and so she repeated to herself over and over "I am a good person and I deserve a good life." Nothing wrong with that kind of positive thinking. It acknowledges that you might feel bad but that doesn't mean you are bad. It doesn't impose guilt for feeling sad.

So I like what Barbara Ehrenreich is saying. I don't think she is being pessimistic. She is being down-to-earth and real.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to JDPriestly (Reply #18)

Tue Sep 4, 2012, 03:10 AM

20. + 1000 - well said. nt

 

and I've only read the first half so far .... lol ...

btw .. do you have connections in Oregon?
as in being politically active in Portland during 60s?

have I already asked you this?
If so ...sorry ... but I'm "old"
and have a good excuse.


Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to 99th_Monkey (Reply #20)

Tue Sep 4, 2012, 03:33 AM

21. Sorry. I was not in Portland in the 1960s.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to JDPriestly (Reply #18)

Tue Sep 4, 2012, 12:07 PM

22. Good answer.

 



"I think I understand how important thinking can be for success. Clearly, a person who completely lacks confidence can't achieve much. My personal experience is that focusing on what you want, analyzing what it will take you to get it and then comparing that to your strengths and weaknesses is the way to go."

This is where we have to step back and ask ourselves if we truly understand what constitutes "realistic" goals for other people. Many of my childhood friends far exceeded what I thought at the time were 'realistic' goals. They rose above social constrictions, personal limitations and academic deficiency to become successful. Lucky for them they didn't get sidetracked with the "realism" of their life.

As an educator, we were taught that students become what we perceive them to be. In a well known study, low achieving students, along with their teachers were given test results that elevated their grades and academic performance. They became high achievers primarily because of the teachers new attitude. Clearly, it was the students self-perception that did the trick.

After leaving teachers college, I found these principles worked at a personal level. I became very conscious of my beliefs. My own reading list reflected and nourished the importance of 'beliefs' in day to day living. I met people whose beliefs were truly bizarre and like you, thought they were "a bit crazy". Of course, what I thought was irrelevant in their lives and they managed to survive without my input.

As for the general pursuit of material wealth (which I have yet to achieve), I once read a good definition of abundance that has served me well over the years.

Abundance is having what you need, when you need it.

"I prefer these kinds of goals. Today I'm going to smile at someone who feels sad or even, today I'm going to be honest with myself."

That's the ticket!!

.





















Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 06:42 PM

13. This is an awesomely important piece of work. Thanks Barbara!

 

It also dovetails nicely with an interview with a recent interview of Chris Hedges, from which
I've excerpted a few paragraphs:

"We stand on the cusp of one of the most seismic and disturbing dislocations in human history, one that is radically reconfiguring our economy as it is the environment, and our national obsessions, because of these electronic hallucinations, revolve around the trivial and the absurd. The illusionists who shape our culture, and who profit from our incredulity, hold up the gilded cult of Us. Popular expressions of religious belief, personal empowerment, corporatism, political participation and self-definition argue that all of us are special, entitled and unique. All of us, by tapping into our inner reserves of personal will and undiscovered talent, by visualizing what we want, can achieve, and deserve to achieve, happiness, fame and success. It is, of course, magical thinking. ....

All we have, as Vaclav Havel wrote, is our own powerlessness. And that powerlessness is our strength. The survival of the movement depends on embracing this powerlessness. It depends on two of our most important assets - utter and complete transparency and a rigid adherence to nonviolence, including respect for private property.
This permits us, as Havel puts it in his 1978 essay "The Power of the Powerless," to live in truth. And by living in truth we expose a corrupt corporate state that perpetrates lies and lives in deceit."

Whole Interview here: http://www.alternet.org/books/why-chris-hedges-believes-serious-revolt-only-option-people-have-left?akid=9330.35035.FyollR&rd=1&src=newsletter703564&t=12&paging=off

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to 99th_Monkey (Reply #13)

Tue Sep 4, 2012, 02:23 AM

19. Thanks for that quote from Chris Hedges.

I was thinking along the same lines.

When facing sadness -- like how you feel when you lose a job -- I think the best approach is to sit down someplace in the presence of another so you won't hurt yourself. Don't say anything. Just let yourself feel really sad. Cry if need be. Don't drive a car or anything like that until that deep sadness has worked its course for the moment. And if you let yourself go into it, it will pass. All things pass. And then when you have let the despair work, it just goes away and you can move to feeling more positive and then doing something positive. Do the same thing the next time it comes upon you. Sometimes it is good to take a walk with someone.

But don't do go into despair when you are alone. Just go someplace and sit alone in the presence of others -- even strangers. That is just enough of an inhibition to prevent you from foolishly hurting yourself. Sooner or later, your mind will become distracted by something or someone and you will feel better.

Just let yourself be quiet. A lot of people find it helps to write their thoughts out in tough times -- or draw a picture of what is on their mind. Don't leave it for others to see. It's yours and it is part of letting sad thoughts pass through you.

All things pass. Hard times pass. Depression passes. And life is not complete without those experiences.

And if you still feel sad, you should try to get help. If depression is a long-term problem, medications really can change your life. I have a close friend who did not want to take any medications for many years and got a new lease on life thanks to changing that attitude.

But just forcing yourself to be optimistic probably won't work. At least it doesn't for me.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to JDPriestly (Reply #19)

Tue Sep 4, 2012, 07:44 PM

23. That is some very good advice, and timely too. Thanx.

 

I'm dealing with lots of sadness related to aging (I'm 68) and facing new limitations
on a number of fronts. What you say is so true.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 11:41 PM

16. Always thought the Secret was a load of crap! nt

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Tue Sep 4, 2012, 07:55 PM

24. I agree with Ms. Ehrenreich....

 

...and yet we were warned it would be this way in the not-too-distant future, but few wanted to believe it. And even fewer knew what to do about it. So as usual, we left it up to government to tell us what to do, and they said nothing. Government basically reacts to situations (and usually quite badly) rather than planning to avoid problems that are not clearly defined. Not unless you're planning trip to the moon or something:



''While covering Congress, it occurred to us that big technological and social changes were occurring in the United States, but that the political system seemed totally blind to their existence. Between 1955 and 1960, the birth control pill was introduced, television became universalized, commercial jet travel came into being and a whole raft of other technological events occurred. Having spent several years watching the political process, we came away feeling that 99 per cent of what politicians do is keep systems running that were laid in place by previous generations of politicians.

Our ideas came together in 1965 in an article called 'The future as a way of life', which argued that change was going to accelerate and that the speed of change could induce disorientation in lots of people. We coined the phrase 'future shock' as an analogy to the concept of culture shock. With future shock you stay in one place but your own culture changes so rapidly that it has the same disorienting effect as going to another culture.'' ~Alvin Toffler, Future Shock (1970)

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Tue Sep 4, 2012, 08:41 PM

25. Attraction

I agree with most of what Barbara Ehrenreich says. But I think there's a different way to look at attraction.

Certainly realism beats delusion. But sometimes attitude can be improved with no compromise to truth, and that improved attitude can improve outcome.

Take the example of someone who loses a job. That person may feel shocked, depressed, frightened. That person may look at the job market and think he or she has no chance. With that attitude it will be hard to look for a job, and indeed there is *some* possibility of finding a job even in a terrible market like this one. After allowing some time for the shock to wear off, the person can sink into depression, or he/she could think "How *could* this work out all right? If someone can use my skills and experience, who is that likely to be and where are they likely to look?" In other words, it's by thinking positively that you can come up with something that is likely to work out.

Feeling good helps. There is no way you can feel great about losing a job. (Of course there are exceptions, like someone who didn't like their work and has some savings and not a lot of people depending on them, etc.) But within a range you can feel more or less miserable. There are lots of things you can do just inside your mind to feel good. If you remember that feeling good is important -- if only because we have only so many days to live -- then you are giving yourself permission to feel, if not good (under the circumstances) then less miserable. Remind yourself that what happened is not your fault. If you believe it is your fault, then forgive yourself, because your carrying guilt around does nothing for anyone.

This improved attitude will give you more strength to look for a job.

Attraction also works through visualization. Even people who don't believe in magic work this way all the time. See if you can get up from your chair and walk into the next room without visualizing or somehow imagining what you're going to do before you do it. Visualizing gives you a framework for a plan. It can work the same way with anything you want. That's not to say that if you write up a plan for $1,000,000,000 it will come to you (although some proponents of positive thinking may say so). But creating a plan that you believe in at least as a possibility will take you some distance toward getting it. And the more you plan, the greater that possibility seems, and indeed becomes for you, because of your focus on it.

I don't know much about what goes on in the corporate world. It seems quite plausible to me that corporations have distorted this message because the distortion works for them.

Barbara Ehrenreich says we have power together. Indeed we do. Attraction need not be a solitary activity. When you get together with people to plan things you can get a nice energy going. The difference in an attraction attitude, I think, is where you draw the line about what is realistic. You don't have to believe that what you dare to dream is definitely coming to you. You only have to open your mind to the possibility that it may come, and then think about how that would be, and then try to plan for it.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to limpyhobbler (Original post)

Tue Sep 4, 2012, 08:54 PM

26. If thinking things made them come true,

Cheney and Bush would be in prison. The world thought very profoundly and quite often that they were war criminals.

More's the pity.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread