The Power of Positive ThinkingI’m not sure how we got on the topic but, while trapped in the car for some long driving as we ran errands today, Hyperion and I got to talking about positive thinking sort of as an off-shoot of wishful thinking being related to quantum physics (which is for another post).  Anyway, in kicking this topic around I began to crystallize some of my thoughts on it.

Most people have heard of Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s book The Power of Positive Thinking. The basic premise is that if you feel good about yourself, good things will happen to you or come to you. This is also the basis behind The Secret by Rhoda Byrne where your positive thoughts are like magnets that cause good things to come to you. It’s also the basis for many of the books that instruct how to use your mind to concentrate on what you want and to have what you want come true.

But what I think is that by putting yourself into that place where you are concentrating on what you want, you begin to change yourself and your attitudes. From listening to some of the people who have read these books and dedicated themselves to following the various steps, there seem to be two types of outcomes. One is nothing much happens because they wish or think positively about what they want, but then they don’t do anything but wish or think.

However, the other group not only thinks positively, but they also begin to act in ways that cause the “good” thing/event to happen to them. They take a class in adult education, local technical school, junior college, or evening college courses, or go to the library and study up on what they’re hoping to gain — which is usually, better pay, a vacation, a promotion, or whatever. It’s the activities they are performing to aid them in gaining their goal that helps to change their attitude and gain them the abilities (concrete skills) that eventually gain them their positive outcome. It’s not just the positive thoughts beamed out in the universe; it’s the positive thoughts that are beamed inward that encourage the person to take their future into their own hands and make it better.

People don’t work in a vacuum.  They are worked upon by those around them. If others don’t think much of a person, that person internalizes that and acts accordingly, believing they aren’t worth much. If the other inflates a person’s ego, they also have problems when their expectations and their skills don’t match. However, if by focusing on a goal and then working to actually bring expectation and skills into alignment, their goals are often achieved. Usually not in the manner expected, but in a manner that, in retrospect, actually is what was wanted or needed.

On the other hand, people who simply sit and wish the good to come to them and never do anything to gain that change in their lives are bound to be disappointed and always looking for the next book that might have the key that actually will work for them — as long as they don’t actually have to do more than think about it.

My grandmother used to say, “If wishes were horses even beggars could ride.” This was usually whenever, I complained about wanting something but wasn’t actually planning to do any of the work to earn it. Yes, you need positive thinking but you also need good old fashioned work to reach the goals you set for yourself.

What’s your take on this?

Hyperion AvatarHyperion here:  I freely admit to being a total muggle; sometimes even Gayle despairs at my total disdain for the other-worldly.  For all the above post, there’s a fair bit of romance in her soul.  She may not depend on the magic to do job by itself, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s none out there.  She still has hope.   But, as for me?  “There’s no such thing as magic!”  That’s just the way I’m wired.   Well, there is one exception.  I think Gayle is pretty magical … but then I’m a bit biased, and the matter is not open to scientific inquiry.

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The Little Sleep by Paul TremblayA
Mark Genevich is a private investigator in South Boston. He’s just gotten another case, or he thinks he has a case…he’s not sure actually. You see, Genevich is a narcoleptic as a result of the car accident that killed his best friend and rearranged his face. As far as he can remember, Jennifer Times walked into his office — refused to take no for an answer — and hired him to find her fingers. The problem is that while she was there Genevich had actually fallen into a hypnogogic state and when he awoke he was alone, there was no check, but there were some cryptic notes on his pad and a manila envelope with two black and white photos of a young girl that looked a lot like Jennifer.

Genevich tends not to take jobs that require him to leave his office. He never knows when he’ll drop into sleep or worse, cataplexy, when he’s awake and aware but can’t move. The little sleeps or hypnogogic states are similar to what happens to most of us with a high fever and tiredness. We fall asleep on the couch with the DVD player or TV on and whatever is playing gets incorporated into our dreams along with whatever our brain’s unconscious serves up. Awoken we don’t know at first what was dream and what reality. For Mark Genevich most of his life is like that. Part of any investigation he does involves figuring out what exactly is the job and what he’s supposed to do, which is why he prefers email, written instructions, and internet searches.

His first step is to figure out what the real job is since he couldn’t have possibly been hired to search for her fingers. It must have something to do with the pictures. However, contacting Jennifer reveals that she doesn’t know who he is or what he’s talking about. So, now it’s necessary to step back and figure out who hired him and why?

The entire story is told from Mark Genevich’s point of view, which means most of the information is disjointed and we, as readers, don’t know anymore than he does. Some authors hide information in mysteries by keeping us out of the detectives head but Tremblay lets us into Genevich’s head because it doesn’t matter what he knows because we don’t know if what he knows is real or dream or a combination of the two.

A gritty, noir mystery with a very different private investigator, Tremblay manages to tell a story that keeps the reader engaged from the first page. It’s not just can you figure it out before the sleuth, but will he figure it out because you both have the same confusing information and little to guide you.

I haven’t read anything this different in a while and it was not only interesting as a mystery, but contained a lot of information about a neurological problem that doesn’t get dealt with much in any fiction. Tremblay does a great job bringing Mark Genevich to life. He may not be someone you like very much, but you will respect his determination.

Since the entire novel is told form Mark Genevich’s point of view, the reader is left as much in the dark as Mark, we can’t know more than he does about anything. The reader and Genevich must decide what memories are are of real events and which are a result of hypnogogic hallucinations. Kept off balance throughout, Genevich is fighting a battle to control his neurological symptoms, retain his memories as well as shift through them to figure out which are real and which are a result of his little sleeps, and solve a crime.

Gritty, noir at its best, The Little Sleep manages to allow the reader to be an active participant in the case as there’s little chance the reader will spot clues before the PI since the reader also has to figure out what to believe. Imaginative and entertaining, it’s a story you just can’t put down.

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President Barack Obama

I’ve had a dream for at least eight years now that I’d get my country back. That our Constitution and Bill of Rights and the concepts and ideal upon which this country was founded would once again become important to the holder of the most important office our country has — The Presidency.

Today I watched the Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. That dream became hope during his campaign and his speech today confirmed my hope and belief that finally America will be on the right track. That those hard decisions necessary to move our country forward and to maintain our ideals would be made. I now have more than a dream, I have hope for the future. Today, I am again proud to be an American. (Here’s Obama’s inaugural speech.)

We are what we imagine ourselves to be. (Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.)

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