Monday, November 15, 2010

My Pharmaceutical Sandbag Notwithstanding: I don't hate Norman Vincent Peale

The book that surprised me this morning in my search for a random quote was Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking. I scorned it for years--as a book and a type of book. Given my knee-jerk classicism, affection for work of mouldering men mostly white and often colonial, and my inbred cynicism, my not hating Peale eight years ago shocked me. Sort of.

Sure, there is something innately cheery about me which might be a predicator for positivism, and yet I am a depressive. As I've written previously, I finally, late 2008, accepted the fact that I got me a case of lifetime blues, though what anyone means by depression varies, case to case. My troubles until end-of-my-days are mitigated by 100 mg of a pharmaceutical sandbag.

Peale was a Christian preacher and if you, reader, have a knee-jerk reaction against the New Testament or Bible in entirety, hey, I can't blame you. The good that's been done in the name of those books is quiet good. The bad that's been done is loud and known as "history." If you, reader, have, however an aversion to meditation or belief in any kind of power higher than yourself, a Creator, a goddess, I don't know what to say except, fine. I don't.

Yes, I wrote The Future Is Happy(my poetry collection, ahem). Read it and you'll (a) be transformed! and (b undertand my chipper-ness is hard won. I don't predict future happiness for the globe or the poor people on it. I merely use "happy" and "positive" as tools so I'm able to do what I can for the poor, hungry, abused, exploited, raped, used.

Also know I don't agree we can "positive think" our way out of illness. Sometimes you get lucky, sure. Mostly I want to run over with my imaginary, black, four-wheel SUV those who tell cancer patients and other among the physically distressed they can heal themselves. We can hurt ourselves and we can help ourselves. The degree to which we do either is not a function of will. Okay. Three quotes from Peale:

"By our speech we can also achieve quiet reactions. Talk peaceful to be peaceful."

"Fill your mind with all peaceful experiences possible then make planned and deliberate excursions to them in memory."

"Frequently I find that people who are lacking in inner peace are victims of a self-punishment mechanism."

That's enough. The stories he tells are not entirely useful but the spirit behind them isn't objectionable.

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