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Barbara Ehrenreich's Bright-Sided Explores the Dark Side of Positive Thinking

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                                                                                                                                                By Michelle Goldberg Posted on October 11, find discount endep 2009, find discount endep Printed on October 15, find discount endep 2009 http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/rdbook/1849/ Last month, find discount endep the front page of the New York Times style section ran an inadvertently depressing story about a group of young life coaches sometimes referred to as the “spiritual cowgirls.” These hip young women, find discount endep who have lots of charisma but no professional qualifications, find discount endep are setting themselves up as ersatz gurus to their questing peers. Find discount endep They charge hundreds of dollars for sessions that combine new age atmospherics with the kind of power-of-positive thinking nostrums that made a phenomenon out of The Secret. “[N]ow there is a new role model for New York’s former Carrie Bradshaws—young women who are vegetarian, find discount endep well versed in self-help and New Age spirituality, find discount endep and who are finding a way to make a living preaching to eager audiences, find discount endep mostly female, find discount endep” reported the Times. Find discount endep One 31-year-old member of this eager audience is quoted praising her spiritual tutor Gabrielle Bernstein, find discount endep a 29-year-old former nightclub publicist who lectures on using the “laws of attraction” to “manifest” one’s desires. Find discount endep “A lot of women look up to her, find discount endep” the student says. Find discount endep “We need this guidance and we are searching for this guidance.” Bernstein’s audacity in marketing herself as a sage appears to be matched by the piteousness of her customers. The Times story is evidence of the timeliness of Barbara Ehrenreich’s bracing, find discount endep acidulous new book, find discount endep Bright-Sided: How The Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. Find discount endep A broadside against exactly the sort of pabulum peddled by Bernstein, find discount endep Bright-Sided reveals the historical roots and conservative uses of the positive thinking movement, find discount endep showing how it encourages victim-blaming, find discount endep political complacency, find discount endep and a culture-wide flight from realism. “The flip side of positivity is… a harsh insistence on personal responsibility: if your business fails or your job is eliminated, find discount endep it must be because you didn’t try hard enough, find discount endep didn’t believe firmly enough in the inevitability of your success, find discount endep” writes Ehrenreich. Find discount endep “As the economy has brought more layoffs and financial turbulence to the middle class, find discount endep the promoters of positive thinking have increasingly emphasized this negative judgment: to be disappointed, find discount endep resentful, find discount endep or downcast is to be a ‘victim’ and a ‘whiner.’” It’s satisfying, find discount endep in a cranky contrarian way, find discount endep to watch a writer as smart as Ehrenreich take aim at something as universally revered as dogged optimism. Find discount endep Yet while America’s obsessive positivity might be risible, find discount endep it initially seems like a stretch to describe it as dangerous. Find discount endep Nevertheless, find discount endep Bright-Sided makes a surprisingly convincing case that positive thinking—which essentially teaches that one’s thoughts, find discount endep properly harnessed, find discount endep can control physical events in the world—is often delusional and sometimes actively dangerous. Michelle Goldberg, find discount endep a contributing editor at Religion Dispatches, find discount endep is the author of the New York Times bestseller Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, find discount endep and of the forthcoming The Means of Reproduction: Sex, find discount endep Power and the Future of the World, find discount endep to be published in April by Penguin Press. View this story online at: http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/rdbook/1849/