Feedback Friday: The Positive Thinking Uproar, Part 1

Stand in front of the mirror in the morning and repeat 20 times: “I am a good person. I can do anything. I will be successful.” And poof! Your wildest dreams come true. Sounds appealing, right? But the reality is different. Forget about positive thinking. Instead, start working toward the goal you want to achieve or practicing the skill you want to master.

That was Michael Masterson’s main point in a recent article, “Why Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work.” It turned out to be one of the most hotly debated articles he’s ever written. Here is what a few of your fellow ETR readers had to say on the subject…

“I needed to hear the fallacies of positive thinking. I knew it had to be more than that, and of course it really was. Excellent article. I believe what you are saying is get off your duff, set some goals, build on your small successes, and keep visualizing what you want to accomplish until it becomes second nature. I hope all Michael’s ETR followers read this. It really is the only road to success.”

Marc Abramsky

Picton, Ontario, Canada

“I don’t mean to insult you, Michael, because I respect you very much and have high regard for your accomplishments. But I would like to make some comments on your article in ETR on positive thinking. I think you simplify the issue too much and miss some of the point. For one thing, there is a major difference between simply thinking positive thoughts and developing a positive frame of mind and heart.

“The underlying motivation of wanting to better oneself and one’s life is the key, no matter what that motivation is or where it comes from. You have to be at a point in your life where you want to change for the better. Thinking positive thoughts alone cannot do it. I tried that for years.

“Michael, if you look back at your own life, to that point after high school and all the C’s, you had to first change your way of thinking before you could develop a frame of mind that would inspire you to take the actions you did to change your life. I’m sure you’re grateful that changing your thinking came easy for you. But, unfortunately, many of us have to work much harder to even get to the point of beginning to think positively before we can hope to make the changes we want so desperately to make.

“I bet if you asked Dr. Joe Vitale, Bob Proctor, or any of the hundreds of successful people that Napoleon Hill interviewed over the years, their experiences would be similar to my own.

“Michael, I think we agree on the major points. But you do a disservice to the ones who have actually turned their lives around and became successful in their own right by first developing a positive frame of mind and heart; however they managed to do it and however long it took.

“You truly are an inspiration to anyone wanting to be all they’re meant to be and achieve their wildest dreams. I look forward to meeting you at the 2008 Bootcamp.”

Deirdre Feeney

Irvington, NY

“What you say about visualization is so, so true. You buy those programs and sit around reading or listening or both to them, expecting everything to fall into place when you finish. But guess what? Nothing.

“In one article, you made the intuitively obvious plainly simple. Visualization in short steps initially overcomes the stumbling blocks of procrastination and rationalizations re success, failure, and, most important, INACTION.

“I look forward to reading more.”

John Gould

Hermitage, PA

“Most of the time, I find your articles interesting and valuable. However, your article ‘Why Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work’ really disappointed me.

“Absolutely, the Power of Positive Thinking works! If I hadn’t begun to think Positive and allow myself to consider even the possibility of better things in my life, I wouldn’t be one of your readers!

“The real reason most believe Positive thinking doesn’t work is because of a continuous immersion in Negative thinking. If Mr. Disney never thought Positive, we wouldn’t have Mickey. And if Mr. Gates never thought Positive, I wouldn’t be writing this e-mail!

“On a final note, if all your ‘couch potatoes’ do is think Positive and they never reach YOUR idea of Success, but they are happier nonetheless, please don’t label them so harshly. One more happy person creates more happiness for us all! Thanks for reading my ‘two cents,’ and have a great day!”

Christina Hope

Camarillo, CA