I found an interesting article on positive thinking that gives the upbeat in heart some significant issues to consider. “The Problem with Positive Thinking,” by Oettingen, printed in the New York Times, October 26, 2014.
The author points out that positive thinking does have positive effects. It’s a lot better than negative thinking. But there can be bad effects too. Significantly, that when one expects a result to occur from merely holding a positive thought they are less likely to take corrective actions to reach the desired goal. Their thinking goes into a semi-fantasy world that believes certain things are happening that are not happening. And results are not forth coming.
For the student of Christian Science there is a lesson to reap from this observation. It’s important that affirmations of truth are not modes of positive thinking. For a reformative effect, prayer needs to be backed up by genuine spiritual understanding and willingness to reform when and where needed.
For instance, the words, “I am a strong and able child of God,” is a truth, but when saying the words we need to examine whether our words grew out of understanding what it means to be a strong able child of God, or are they words with no understanding? If we’re still ignorant on what it means to be a strong able child of God, we need to be honest about that and strive for the proper understanding. This is where the reformative action happens, in the pursuit of a higher understanding. Once reached, the truthfulness of our words is confirmed by improvement. But if our words are only positive thinking, we don’t seek the improvement. We stay in a mental fantasy land of believing we’re already there without taking the necessary steps to make the demonstration.
Oettingen wrote, “Positive thinking fools our minds into perceiving that we’ve already attained our goal, slackening our readiness to pursue it.”
So, positive thinking may be a start, but the need is for understanding—spiritual understanding that sorts out the wrong from the right, and mightily sides with the right.
The article is easy to read through.