Posted by: GPK | 22.October.2009

Feeling better for the sake of it?

I don’t try to feel “good” just for the sake of it.

Last week I talked about bright-siding.  I found this interview that you might find interesting.  It’s an interview with author Barbara Ehrenreich.  Ehrenreich talks about how positive psychology has hurt America.

While I really do believe Barbara Ehrenreich raises some great questions about balancing a positive outlook with a realistic assessment of current situations, I’m curious what the alternative is?  Shall we succumb to every difficulty with defeatism and sorrow under the rule of being “realistic”?  I just don’t think that’s for me.  Why?

Had I done that four and half years ago, I’d be dead right now.  And if that’s not the case and I might have lived through my Leukemia even with a negative attitude, I still would choose the positive approach because that attitude helped me actually create wonderful memories from what could have been a completely painful, frightening and macabre experience.

I’d rather be alive on every level.  Staying positive and focused on being upbeat in the moment helped me to not be depressed.  I’d go so far to say that my generally positive outlook actually helped me BE happy.  That happiness, I’m certain, stimulated lots of healthy immune response in my body.  That response, I’m certain, helped me heal.  Even my doctors and nurses concede that my transition from completely cancer-riddled to cancer-free in 5 months was amazing.  When the pros tell me that, I believe it!

So, while I respect Barbara Ehrenreich’s right to differ, and while I almost certainly will go the library and read her book, I’ll disagree and say that between feeling like a victim and conceding defeat on the one hand and confidently and gratefully accepting responsibility for where I go from here on the other, I’ll choose the latter.

Who’s with me and why?

Engage, Think, Share!

Peace and gratitude,




  1. That was a very interesting article. I think that she has an good point but that it isn’t well interpreted by the article. Optimism has to be coupled with a healthy dose of realism. For example, when I decided to become a doctor, I was an economics major with a signed 7 year commitment to the Navy for surface warfare. Realistically, I knew it would be 7 or more years before I went to medical school. But that didn’t stop me from plugging away at my prerequirisites every chance I got. At the same time, I still prepared myself for the possibility of needing an alternate source of income if I didn’t get into school directly. My most humbling life experience is also the sole reason that I was able to go to medical school directly after I was discharged from the Navy. I do think that sometimes people think that “bad” things won’t happen as long as they keep a positive outlook but sometimes those “bad” experiences can be the one thing that gets them where they need to be, indirectly.

    George, I am sure that regardless of your incredible outlook and amazing recovery that you made sure to take care of administrative issues that would help your family if the undesired outcome had occurred. That just makes good sense, regardless of your optimism.

    • Wow Jess, you really toughed it out didn’t you? You know how important the idea of not defeating yourself between the ears is! The world is going to make it hard enough on you without you joining in. Good for you for focusing on the dream and overcoming the stuff life dropped on you! As for “administrative” stuff, yes I took care of that stuff long before actually. I had always believed that getting “housekeeping” out of the way freed up lots of energy for me to pursue other wonderful things. Now, if I could only take that approach with actual house keeping! It must come from a deep fear of the vacuum cleaner! 😉

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