|Inside the New Science of Motivation|
In the first post of this series we took a look at the book "Empire of Illusion" by author Chris Hedges.
Today, we will take a look at another book that is of a similar genre, albeit one concerning personal illusion rather than mass-population-illusion, such as a cultural trance or group-mind trance (e.g. Comparing a Group-Mind Trance to a Cultural Amygdala, Choose Your Trances Carefully, 2).
The author of the book we take a glance at, today, is determined to let us know what true positive thinking really is.
Let me attempt to illustrate that premise with a joke the author of the book uses, a joke that helps to stimulate our ability to focus, because the author who is a doctor, is all about strengthening our ability to actually make use of real positive thinking.
The doctor does that by first humorously showing us what the concept of positive thinking is, and what it is not:
Ever hear the joke about the guy who dreams of winning the lottery? After years of desperate fantasizing, he cries out for God’s help. Down from heaven comes God’s advice: “Would you buy a ticket already?!”(Dare to Dream of Falling Short). Or, as Forrest Gump exclaimed: "your chances of winning the lottery get a lot better if you buy a ticket."
Let's use "buying the ticket" as a metaphor for doing what must be done in order to win, and let's apply it in this situation:
It's one of the jokes of our time that we Americans have literally plowed trillions of dollars into what’s called “national security” in the post-9/11 years without seriously facing climate change, a phenomenon that, if not brought under control, guarantees us a kind of insecurity we’ve never known. Call it irony or call it idiocy, but call it something.(Celebrity Oil-Qaeda). The word "joke," like most words in our doublespeak culture, can have two or more meanings.
II. Will The Real Positive Thinking Come Forth
The author of the book, shown in the graph at the top of the post, goes on to show that improper or imaginary "positive thinking" is a detriment:
Conventional wisdom has it that dreams are supposed to excite us and inspire us to act. Putting this to the test, Dr. Oettingen recruits a group of undergraduate college students and randomly assigns them to two groups. She instructs the first group to fantasize that the coming week will be a knockout: good grades, great parties and the like; students in the second group are asked to record all their thoughts and daydreams about the coming week, good and bad.(ibid, emphasis added). So, just in case you might be wondering what this has to do with a celebrity world of illusion, we have to remember that celebrity is merely being widely known about, i.e., having fame.
Strikingly, the students who were told to think positively felt far less energized and accomplished than those who were instructed to have a neutral fantasy. Blind optimism, it turns out, does not motivate people; instead, as Dr. Oettingen shows in a series of clever experiments, it creates a sense of relaxation complacency. It is as if in dreaming or fantasizing about something we want, our minds are tricked into believing we have attained the desired goal.
There appears to be a physiological basis for this effect: Studies show that just fantasizing about a wish lowers blood pressure, while thinking of that same wish — and considering not getting it — raises blood pressure. It may feel better to daydream, but it leaves you less energized and less prepared for action.
Thinking she could get people to act on their wishes by confronting them immediately with the real obstacles that stood in their way, Dr. Oettingen and her colleagues developed a technique called mental contrasting.
In one study, she taught a group of third graders a mental-contrast exercise: They were told to imagine a candy prize they would receive if they finished a language assignment, and then to imagine several of their own behaviors that could prevent them from winning. A second group of students was instructed only to fantasize about winning the prize. The students who did the mental contrast outperformed those who just dreamed.
So much for the relentless “you can do it” attitude that pervades our culture. Apparently, being mindful not just of your dreams, but also of the real barriers that you or the world place in their way, is a far more effective way of achieving your goals.
It seems like an obvious and deceptively simple concept, yet according to the author, only one in six people spontaneously thinks this way when asked what accomplishment is foremost in his or her mind.
The recent talk about a Chinese - U.S. agreement on greenhouse gases received a lot of celebrity in the media.
That idea or dream is said to be a very good one, so we must "think positively" about it.
But, based on the habits and history of celebrity, perhaps it is wiser to wait to see what action is taken, and what action is not taken.
III. Celebrity Worship Is Not Positive Thinking
The recent Sony hack attack is an example of the effects which blind faith develops.
Even though some competent experts are not sure that the government / media explanations are correct (Did North Korea Really Attack Sony?, cf. Inside Job?), as a nation we still tend to swallow the media story without proper confirmation (The Pillars of Knowledge: Faith and Trust?).
When we consider members of government, business / entertainment, or science to be celebrities who are going to take care of / protect us no matter what, we are decidedly not thinking positively.
Rather, we are wishfully thinking in a very deceptive and dangerous manner, unless we demand to see positive results too.
This wishful belief that takes place inside the celebrity bubble is, unfortunately, a deeply embedded trance in our culture.
A cultural trance that has been around for ages:
ON THE night of October 22, 1929, one of America’s most widely known economists addressed a great banquet of credit men. Not only were Wall Street prices not too high, he told his delighted hearers, but we were really only on the threshold of the greatest boom in the nation’s history. The prophecy evoked a burst of applause. Next morning, a few minutes after the great bell announced the opening of trading on the Stock Exchange, the storm broke. The greatest economic depression in our history was formally ushered in — though it had been in progress for some time. From this point on, as the country slowly roused itself to a consciousness of the far-spreading crisis, leaders in politics and business repeated with invincible optimism that it was all just a wholesome corrective. After several years a waggish commentator published a little volume called Oh, Yeah! It was a sardonic recording of the persistent and unconquerable stream of promises of quickly returning health. There you will find recorded the statements of statesmen, financiers, university professors, leading economists, and editors assuring the people that it was all a blessing in disguise, a corrective phenomenon, that the broad highway to renewed prosperity lay just ahead. All of which proved quite conclusively that these men did not know what they were talking about because they had no understanding of the economic system under which they lived. Then came the collapse of 1933 on the grand scale — and a resumption of the bright prophecies of happy days.(As We Go Marching, by John T. Flynn, 1944, page 166). Some may remember that during a recent presidential race (which are more and more about celebrity issues rather than being about working / middle class issues) one of the celebrities running for president was asked about the then-current "economic problems."
He replied: "what economic problems?" just as some of his ancestors with "clueless genes" had said just before the events leading up to the not so Great Depression.
That clueless ideology is still here with us in Petroleum Civilization (You Are Here).
IV. Petroleum Civilization
Yes, our current civilization actually is Petroleum Civilization, because as the U.S. Department of Energy pointed out:
"Oil is the lifeblood of America’s economy" [- U.S. Department of Energy](Do We Need A Blood Transfusion?, emphasis added). In a medical sense, people, nations, and civilizations are alive based on their having "blood" --which means oil, petroleum, i.e. fossil fuels, when metaphorically applied to Petroleum Civilization.
If oil is the lifeblood, it being a finite resource, and said to be peaking in 2014 (if it has not peaked already as some say) our nation needs a blood transfusion or we will die out economically.
The truth of the matter is that the earth environment with its oxygen, water, food, and protection is the lifeblood of every living thing and nation.
Green renewable blood is better than toxic oil blood because green is of by and for the people, in the sense that the people need new blood that will not run out, or destroy the environment along with humanity itself.
Hence, Oil-Qaeda is a celebrity because of the billions of dollars it spends on advertising and other ways of propaganda (Oil-Qaeda: The Indictment, 2, 3, 4) that present Oil-Qaeda as the lifeblood giver.
Rather than virtually worshipping such celebrities via wishful thinking, government and business celebrities need to get busy about getting busy.
That is, they need to get busy, yesterday, about the real "positive thinking" that requires clear thinking combined with positive action.
Bring on the blood transfusion (Greenland’s Ice Sheet Shifts Could Speed Melt).
V. Petroleum Civilization & Wishful Thinking
There are scientists and others who say that Petroleum Civilization is going to collapse soon (circa 2030).
Others disagree by saying, in effect, what ends up being the same thing, i.e., that Petroleum Civilization will not collapse until circa 2100.
Both are correct, because within the context of the 200,000 year time frame of human existence those dates are both "soon or near term" at the civilization level (even if that is not so soon based on an individual person's lifetime).
Petroleum Civilization is now on suicide watch without doubt, but that is not the end of the matter (Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch, 2, 3, 4).
The direction toward suicide is only one direction on the highway, but hopefully it is not yet a one way highway, even though it could be.
It has lanes, plural, and they go both ways like most highways do (or they might be called one-way streets).
But, as the following song lyrics and video below show, it is not the highway that moves.
The "rolling wheels" and the "flying carpet" are the vehicles that move upon the highway, or in the sky:
i am not your rolling wheels I am the highway("I Am The Highway"). The highway and sky are already both where each "is going" and where each "is coming from."
i am not your carpet ride I am the sky
Two ideologies can be on the same highway, but, at the same time be a thousand miles apart.
Thus, it is the vehicles that must traverse the highway, not the other way around.
This is a metaphor for true positive thinking which is both the highway and the vehicle.
The destination is arrived at via the highway, but the vehicle is the entity that must move, the entity that must be moving in the direction of the destination.
The vehicle is included in real positive thinking, which only exists when real positive steps in the proper direction are taken on the highway.
The highway that both government and business must travel in order to reach the destination.
VI. The Point
Hopeful thinking alone without positive doing is false positive thinking, because hopeful thinking is only the highway.
It does not include the moving vehicle.
The real and lasting point is that the illusion of positive thinking urged upon us by government, business, and the media, is nothing more than an incomplete and illusory cognition.
It is absent the vehicle, absent the positive steps needed to save carbon-based life from Petroleum Civilization.
True positive thinking includes the positive action of a blood transfusion that removes petroleum fuels and replaces them with fuels compatible with the Earth's environment ("As it happens, the planet’s changing climate now demands that we summon up the energy to leave behind the Age of Fossil Fuel ..." - Rebecca Solnit).
VII. The Conclusion
Denial is actually two layers deep (Exceptional American Denial).
The first layer of denial is composed of those who deny any possibility or probability of global warming induced climate change, along with the catastrophes it has been spawning for years (The Most Brazen Lie Of 2014).
The second layer of denial is composed of those who are able to grasp the dire message of climate science, including those celebrities in government and business who are capable of acting on it seriously and adequately, but who are not seriously and adequately doing so (New Climate Catastrophe Policy: Triage).
This is because of their false positive thinking such as "technology will solve the problem for us, so we don't have to take any difficult steps."
That thinking is actually advanced by celebrities in government, business, and the media.
Whether or not this two-tiered denial has already caused the ongoing Sixth Mass Extinction to include the human race is disputed (MOMCOM's Mass Suicide & Murder Pact, 2, 3, 4, 5).
Nevertheless, the growth of the acceptance of the possibility / probability of human extinction
The previous post in this series is here.
"I am the Highway", by Audioslave (lyrics here)