“Real” positive thinking

Photo: Newthoughtdocumentary (CC)

Photo: Newthoughtdocumentary (CC)

Swami Lego Ver explains the benefit of letting go of pessimistic fears.

via Anxiety Culture

Once upon a time, people performed ritual sacrifices in an attempt to avert natural disasters. Nowadays, the most popular ritual for avoiding disasters is to accumulate money. Our ancestors didn’t know when to stop spilling blood, as their gods never announced: “That’s enough”. Modern people can’t stop accumulating money for a similar reason.

A conviction (or suspicion) that the world is essentially hostile probably underlies this behaviour. In which case, no amount of sacrifice or money will remove the underlying sense of insecurity. No burglar-alarm can make you feel safe, if you believe the neighbourhood is dangerous enough to require it.

Feeling safe requires an alteration of your belief-system to remove the archaic “programming” concerning the hostile/dangerous “nature” of things. The gimmick is to do this without offending your sense of “reality” (which might be difficult if you live in a war zone). In other words, you experimentally “stretch” your beliefs further towards “optimism” than you might normally allow.

Pessimists need not find this distasteful. It doesn’t mean subscribing to rose-tinted stupidity. Cognitive dissonance can be avoided by viewing it as “nothing more” than a temporary experiment/gamble.

If letting go of pessimistic fears made us more susceptible to harm, we’d be in peril every time we went to sleep. There’s no cause for physiological unease: optimism never undermines the biological fight-or-flight response when the latter is needed.

Two obvious things help with the gamble: i) reasonably convincing evidence that the universe is not essentially hostile towards you – eg you still exist; ii) reasonably convincing evidence that no metaphysical entity wishes to punish you for your moral failings – eg you still exist despite your laziness, selfishness, unkind thoughts, perverted lusts, etc.

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  • echar

    People Aren’t Against You; They Are for Themselves.

    -Caroline Zelonka

  • jnana

    no, the universe is hostile. but the human soul is greater.
    i’d rather not practice contrived positive thinking than simply observe my negative thoughts with the understanding they aren’t my thoughts and my emotions are just manifestations of psychic energy, waves that I can ride rather than swim against

    • echar

      This is another approach I have encountered. Gnostic?

      • jnana

        possibly, but definitely Buddhist. I suspect gnostics were influenced by Buddhists. I take the story of jesus going to the cross to symbolize man facing his fears without evading them. I don’t always expect to do this in life, but when I simply observe my experience without attachment, I notice I benefit immensely. I do practice some more active positive thinking, in prayer and such, but its more because of my own weakness

        these are a couple sayings that makes me think jesus taught the practice of observing the present(as opposed to fundy jesus who looks to the future in heaven):

        5. Jesus said, “Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. [And there is nothing buried that will not be raised.]”

        18. The disciples said to Jesus, “Tell us, how will our end come?”
        Jesus said, “Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is.
        Congratulations to the one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end and will not taste death.”

        91. They said to him, “Tell us who you are so that we may believe in you.” He said to them, “You examine the face of heaven and earth, but you have not come to know the one who is in your presence, and you do not know how to examine the present moment.”

        • echar

          “Man Know thyself” is another.

    • kowalityjesus

      No way dood, the universe is very loving. Good and evil are in constant battle, and all the good guys have to do to be better is be good. But it is hard to be good. It is a brilliant skit, this world.

      • jnana

        it is irrational and chaotic, like its creator. it is built on evil principles, like blood sacrifice and power games. jesus is drawing the good people out of this world. that’s the point of his resurrection; to teach us how to return home. you sound like an addict in denial. I know good can be found in this world.(Jesus said, “It is I who am the light (that presides) over all. It is I who am the entirety: it is from me that the entirety has come, and to me that the entirety goes. Split a piece of wood: I am there. Lift a stone, and you (plur.) will find me there.” ) but you shouldn’t pretend that evil has a purpose. it is by its nature purposeless. and it is an accident. it is a tragedy that good should be bound by the limits of the flesh. as I said to an earlier commenter who was speaking the praises of the LHP, you may have a case of Stockholm Syndrome.(doesn’t jesus tell you, you have to HATE the world to follow Him?)

        a brilliant skit? that’s more descriptive of monty python. I would say its closer to a black comedy. what makes it funny is evil only harms an image of themselves, and good returns to the eternal when all is said and done.

        • kowalityjesus

          heh, an “addict” and possessing a case of “stockholm syndrome”… very apt and incisive I must admit.

          I used the term skit to illustrate triviality in the face of the unknowably profound creator. duly copy/pasted, thank you.