Present Tense

The Power of Positive DOING

I just read an interesting book, called “Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America” by Barbara Ehrenreich.  Now, I’ve been a consumer of several positive thinking and “law of attraction” books and cds.  I’ve tried over the past few years to shift my attitude toward a more positive reaction to events, both in and out of my control, in hopes of becoming an easier person to live with.  Ehrenreich’s premise is that all of the sunshine that’s been blown up our arses, by folks who are selling that sunshine, hasn’t made us any happier, more successful, richer, thinner or more in touch with God.

Even though I’ve dabbled in always looking on the bright side of life, I am a realist;  I don’t believe for one minute, that I can “think” more money into my bank account or more love into my life.  I do believe that one’s reaction to inevitable disappointments, setbacks, grief, trauma or merely a ‘bad day’, is a key to success, however you may define that term.  Having said all of that, I’ve been seeing a therapist who has helped me immensely in working through some self-destructive habits that I’ve struggled with for most of my adult life.  What I’ve learned is that the “law of attraction” and “the power of positive thinking” will not cure what ails me, but a good therapist is a great start.

I’ve also found that the aforementioned books and cds have helped me focus on a goal.  There is a short book, called  “The Law of Attraction” by Michael Losier that has you do several exercises, where you lay out what you want (in my case, it was work-related) and then you make several lists.  You are forced to focus on the goal by concisely writing it down and then you write about how you will achieve it.  Now, if you then ACT, there is a pretty good chance, you’ll see some progress.  That’s the key: action.  My goal required a lot of things to fall into place and so I worked on what I could control, step by step. I then showed how it would not adversely affect others, or how it would actually benefit others and now I’m happily in the situation that I sought.  Forget about just “thinking” and “manifesting” your way to prosperity, even though that is how the “law of attraction” is marketed.

So, here’s the deal:  there is no psychic river of good energy, that you can just dip your ladle into.  That is bunk, no matter what Oprah tells you.  But, there is something to be said for focusing on your goals and devising a strategy, full of action, to achieve them.  A perfect example is happening right now:  the Olympics.  The focus and dedication of these athletes is a forceful reminder of the time, energy, sacrifice and discipline it requires to be the best.  Maybe you don’t want to be ‘the best’, but just ‘better’; who doesn’t?   But, getting better still requires a plan of action, no matter your goal.  Think about your goal, write about your goal and then start DOING.

February 21, 2010 - Posted by | Musings | , ,


  1. You knew I would love this one! Way to hit it home…just “better”…beautiful! What more could one need?

    Comment by Margie Jennings | February 21, 2010 | Reply

  2. My therapist recommended “Learned Optimism” (this was years ago and I never read the whole thing cover to cover). I also liked the granddaddy of them all (despite all the Bible quotes and dated racial references), “The Power of Positive Thinking” ‘by N.V. Peale. DOING doesn’t come until some thinking has taken place; it is the quality of that thinking that affects the actual doing. IMHO.

    Comment by imasink | February 22, 2010 | Reply

    • I’m not sure that I agree, but that’s okay! Most things really don’t require the amount of thinking time that we give them. As an over-thinker, that’s something that I’ve come to realize. Too much thinking is paralyzing; at some point, you MUST take action or in my case, it becomes a burden hanging over you. “I HAVE to get my finances/career/love life/household in order” If you think it, DO IT:)

      Comment by janelondon | February 22, 2010 | Reply

  3. Thanks Jane! I really loved her book, “Nickel and Dimed.” I had to read that for a social justice class in college. I’m gonna have to pick this one up! Just gathering up my courage to take action in my life is something I always struggle with.

    Comment by Roxanne Rieske | February 22, 2010 | Reply

  4. I have to disagree in that ‘prayer’/ the power of positive thought has an affect on the recovery of sick and injured people. There has to be something in the universe that reacts to the very energy of our thoughts. (equal and opposite reactions etc..) I don’t think that there is a cosmic ‘Santa Claus” in the sky, but I don’t think that you can throw the baby out with the bath water either. You can’t think yourself rich or thin, but you can meditate yourself into a state where you can physically change your own body’s internal state. See studies on Buddhist monks as see what the power of thought can actually do.
    If we can change the internal, what’s to say that we can’t influence the external?

    Comment by kandis | February 23, 2010 | Reply

  5. Great post, Jane… very thought provoking, and I appreciate the honesty… quite timely, too… I’m sitting here emotionally and physically exhausted after a horrid shift in the ER, and can’t quite decide what to do to make things better… I’m only one person, you know?!? Looks like I need to find a good therapist to talk to, and pronto!!! Keep up the great work, your writing is really amazing, girlfriend!!!

    Comment by Kathy | February 24, 2010 | Reply

  6. If You Think You’re Beaten

    If you think you’re beaten, you are,
    If you think you dare not, you don’t.
    If you’d like to win, but think you can’t,
    It’s almost for sure, you won’t.

    If you think you’re losing, you’ve lost.
    For out in the world we find –
    Success begins with a person’s will,
    It’s all in the state of mind.

    If you think you’re outclassed, you are,
    You’ve got to think high to rise.
    You have to stay with it,
    In order to win the prize.

    Life’s battles don’t always go,
    To the one with the better plan.
    For more often than not, you will win,
    If only you think you can.


    Comment by Jon Ledin | April 17, 2011 | Reply

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