The History of Positive Thinking and What It Means in the Post-Truth Era
by Nori Muster
Facts in the Post-Truth Era
Notes on the exploitation of truth in the new century.
Preface to the Original Edition
A few words from the author.
The History of Positive Thinking
Learn from the master minds of history.
Also called visualization, affirmation, metaphor, vision.
Positive Mental Attitude
Also called good temperament, optimism, Zen, flowing with the Dao.
It is said, "Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place."
The Dreaming Peace Workbook
Use the workbook to put the concepts in the book into action now.
Facts in the Post-Truth Era
All of a sudden we find ourselves in an America where twenty-five to thirty percent of adults no longer accept the consensus reality. They have their own set of facts, and do not acknowledge history, news, or science. They build their own reality, perhaps using the power of mind to do it.
In his book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill explains how to use the power of mind to imagine ourselves into a better life. He describes visualization and brainstorming as tools to reach the reality in which the reader wants to live. To Napoleon Hill, the mind creates reality, almost as if life is a dream, and he would wake his readers up to become lucid within the dream.
Another aspect of the truth-free era is the absence of ethics. Apparently, the fact-free world demands no personal integrity. People can lie, saying one thing one day, and then contradicting themselves the next. They can also buy into conspiracy theories that are utter lies. Usually conspiracy theories make scapegoats they then heap up with sins and resentments, and persecute them. Persecuting someone in the new era is called trolling.
In the absence of facts, history, and integrity, the truth-free era is populated with people who have created a dangerous reality for themselves. They've projected devastating fissures in the social fabric, where they imagine minorities taking away the rights of white Christians; where LGBTQ people have a hidden agenda besides just being respected. People in the post-truth world may feel persecuted, and may perhaps believe the end of the world has arrived.
Although people in the post-truth era have gone to great lengths to imagine their own reality, there's a big difference between what they're doing and positive thinking. Denial, hate, and paranoia are negative thinking habits; certainly not positive thoughts. Further, the apocalyptic vision is the precise opposite of positive thinking, as explained below in the section, "New Thought Compared to End Times Religions."
In his celebrated best selling book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, published in 1937, Dale Carnegie describes a business world where managers treat their employees with genuine respect. He didn't write a manual on how to con people and exploit them. Carnegie's vision was to create an wholesome workplace where people cooperate to get things done.
In the post-truth era, government is an enemy. However, this was never written anywhere in the positive thinking literature. In the twenty-first century, belief in government has dwindled as conflict and anger have dominated the conversation. Perhaps it's the twenty-four hour news cycle, or the rise of antisocial propaganda, but it's not the first time a social movement has tried to usurp positive thinking for negative ends.
Around the cusp of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a wide spectrum of mainstream Christians in America came to believe that a person's financial success was based on thought. Rich people had good thoughts, while poor people had bad thoughts. There is still a strain of this thinking in today's world, in what is commonly called the prosperity gospel, prosperity theology, health and wealth gospel, or gospel of success. Learning to believe in god right is the key to wealth.
Thoughts may create reality, but factors outside of our control also play a part. Along with the reality inside our heads, in our thoughts, we also must come to terms with the outside reality, which includes history, collective behavior, and turns of fate outside of our control. Every situation is different, and in general it's wrong to blame victims for their situation. If we're a compassionate society, we look for solutions, and attempt to lift people up. Positive thinking is liberal and compassionate.
When I look around these days, and see the negative effects of people who live in a world of misconceptions about the power of mind, I feel an urgency to defend it and get the truth out. Lies about science, history, and government are not part of the philosophy. Prejudice and cruelty are not part of the philosophy. The amount of money controlling politics these days, and misuse of power, is not positive thinking.
Besides describing the history and how positive thinking works, Dreaming Peace includes a chapter on how to dream a better collective future for humankind. Although a sustainable future may seem more unobtainable than ever, this short manual outlines a plan to get there. That's the purpose of positive thinking—holding onto the belief we can solve a problem if we try.
Dreaming Peace, by Nori