Positive thinking is positively bad for you so always look on the glum slide of life | Mail Online
: "But, I pointed out, the therapist had not advocated positive thinking. She'd advocated realistic thinking, which is what we all need to focus on.
Had the client come to her banging on about her brilliance, it would have been sensible for my friend to point out that yes, she was brilliant, but that didn't stop the fact that she was also bankrupt and her husband was leaving her.
It's interesting that in an age when the current mantras run thus: 'Every time a door closes another opens,' 'Every crisis is an opportunity in disguise,' 'When life hands out lemons, squeeze out a smile,' everything seems to be going wrong, and particularly for those in America and the UK, where positive thinking thrives.
Far from being the greatest nation on earth, more children die in infancy in the U.S. or grew up in poverty than in many other industrialised nations.
Healthcare is broken. It has the highest proportion of the population in prison, and is plagued by gun crime and personal debt.
However, in the days when the West did well - during and after World War II for example - we were all taught the opposite of positive thinking.
We were encouraged 'not to get too big for our boots'. 'Who do you think you are? The Queen of Sheba?' our mothers would say, if we were too proud of any achievement. Or 'Don't let it go to your head.'
Interestingly, a study recently published in the journal Psychological Science showed that people with low self-esteem felt worse after repeating positive mantras about themselves.
In 1986, the Californian State Assembly appointed a task-force to investigate the subject of self-esteem, examining more than 30,000 research findings.
The conclusion was that there was no correlation between levels of self-esteem and educational failure, crime, alcoholism, drug-taking, teenage pregnancies or child abuse.
In other words, feeling good about yourself will not stop you going off the rails.
Indeed, the pre-occupation with self-esteem could actually be a disadvantage. In an international study, it was found that American students who ranked last in international comparisons of maths abilities ranked first when asked how they felt about their maths abilities."