By Barbara Ehrenreich
A sharp-witted knockdown of America's love affair with optimistic pondering and an pressing demand a brand new dedication to realism
Americans are a "positive" people—cheerful, confident, and upbeat: this is often our popularity in addition to our self-image. yet greater than a temperament, being optimistic, we're advised, is the foremost to good fortune and prosperity.
In this completely unique tackle the yank mind set, Barbara Ehrenreich strains the unusual profession of our sunny outlook from its origins as a marginal nineteenth-century therapeutic strategy to its enshrinement as a dominant, virtually essential, cultural angle. Evangelical mega-churches hold forth the excellent news that you simply in basic terms need to wish anything to get it, simply because God desires to "prosper" you. The clinical career prescribes confident considering for its presumed future health advantages. Academia has made room for brand new departments of "positive psychology" and the "science of happiness." Nowhere, although, has bright-siding taken less attackable root than in the enterprise group, the place, as Ehrenreich exhibits, the refusal even to think about adverse outcomes—like personal loan defaults—contributed on to the present fiscal crisis.
With the mythbusting powers for which she is acclaimed, Ehrenreich exposes the drawback of America's penchant for confident considering: On a private point, it results in self-blame and a morbid preoccupation with stamping out "negative" strategies. On a countrywide point, it's introduced us an period of irrational optimism leading to catastrophe. this is often Ehrenreich at her provocative best—poking holes in traditional knowledge and fake technological know-how, and finishing with a choice for existential readability and braveness.
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Extra resources for Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America
Collecting people by their needs isolates them from the commerce and affection of everyday life. The customized response and the circle of friends and advocates that characterize the community way are just not replicable in an institutional setting of any size. m Seduction by the Promise of Satisfaction The conversion from citizen to consumer is based on two basic value propositions: ﬁrst, that what systems and professionals produce is a set of products and services that are necessary and essential to the good life; and second, that systems and professions are a good way of organizing work and essential structures for a successful society.
This is the world where the good life is measured and deﬁned by the sum of the goods and services that we buy: Want to be safe? Buy a home in suburbia. Want to be healthy? Get a good doctor and comprehensive insurance. Want to have children who are successful? Send them to the best schools and start them as early as possible. Want to be well cared for? Find a good therapist, family counselor, and nursing home. Want economic security? Invest where you can achieve passive income. Make money you do not have to work for.
Plus even if you claim to be a Catholic or Episcopalian, you are still Baptist or Pentecostal. We have discovered a way not to be lonely. We know how to do without. Make ends meet. Make do. We do this together. We take care of our own. There are no foster kids, only grandmothers and cousins. This is a set of beliefs of people who live in a more competent community, who live in a way they have chosen, and who experience a more satisﬁed life than most. They are less dependent on the material culture and its requirements and call.