One Simple Idea: The Power of Positive Thinking – Part 2
In a recent post, I asked where the idea of positive thinking came from and, what seems to be happening to it in this age of pessimism and negativity. Author Mitch Horowitz in One Simple Idea calls positivism – the belief that a positive attitude can impact success – “The American Creed.” This creed has roots with our Republic’s founding fathers: Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Hancock and Paul Revere. Incidentally, all of the aforementioned were Freemasons, early proponents of positive mindset philosophy.
Freemasonry has been a favorite of authors and script writers, woven into vast conspiracy theories. The group originated in the Middle Ages as a professional union representing the interest of mason workers. By the 1700’s it’s mission evolved to promoting a free-thinking, positive mindset which was deemed essential to a successful life. These philosophies contrasted with the Church’s position at the time, so the Freemasons were forced into a secret society.
The philosophy emerged again in the early 19th century as a “prosperity gospel” proposing a positive mindset could be applied towards entrepreneurism. Books sprouted to teach a hungry public, including The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles and my favorite, Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. Both Wattles and Hill were influenced by the work of Emile Coue, a French psychologist who used positive thinking and autosuggestion to heal terminally ill clients. Though Mr. Coue was widely ridiculed and shunned by the technocrats, his ideas were tested and adopted by the Americans.
But the evolution of Western medicine and the practical nature of objective science pushed positive thinking to the fringes again. How could a professional, certified Doctor promote a philosophy that could not be objectively measured? Then in the 60s, it returned with the New Age movement, greatly influencing the boomer generation of entrepreneurs and politicians
However, the New Age movement lacked aspects of the philosophy evident in the early authored works – that is that positive mindset must be accompanied with realistic goals and real action. Practicing positivism yet avoiding essential action toward the attainment of worthy goals is wishful thinking and yields no results. Disillusionment set in once again as media and mainstream science communities became judge and executioner of the ideas, declaring positivism a lark. And they are correct in the New Age manifestation movement. It is obvious that all three elements: proper goals, a positive mindset about achieving them, and hard work, are all necessary components of great success. However, it is less clear how much of a challenge it is to implement the skills, which require constant practice and vigilance. No matter how powerfully a SEAL team thinks positively about mission success, and even visualizes that success, the mission will fail without a solid plan and direct and sustained action.
It is clear to me that America is at a crossroads, with negative forces drowning out the positive thoughts and actions of entrepreneurs, philanthropists, educators and everyday people. We’re inundated with poisonous network news and social media drivel, pushing herd mentality thinking and grooving a negative bias into our daily lives.
We must push back against this tide and maintain an abundant attitude about our future. Though the challenges will accelerate, and we will not prevail against them all, we must maintain front sight focus, set meaningful goals toward creating a better future, and charge hard every day. Don’t let the constant barrage of negative news and people we intersect with cause us to lose focus and get pulled into their rut. Misery loves company, but you don’t want to be that company. Stay focused and positive that you can create the future you desire. You deserve it…and that is a simple idea.