One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life

One Simple Idea

One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life by Mitch Horowitz

BF 204.6 .H67 2014

“The power of positive thinking. It is a cultural axiom that has so deeply infiltrated the American consciousness – from Oprah to The Secret to prosperity ministries – that people rarely consider its foundations. One Simple Idea is the first definitive history of how this New Age tenet seeped into mass modern belief from an expert in the field – Mitch Horowitz, publishing executive and noted spirituality historian.

From Ronald Reagan’s “Nothing is impossible” to President Obama’s “Yes, we can,” political messaging taps into the pervasive idea that positive thought can break down barriers to success. Slogans such as the US Army’s “Be all you can be” and Nike’s “Just do it” transform positive thinking into the cultural zeitgeist. Positive thought is at the root of studies on the placebo effect, the 12-step approach to overcoming addiction, and the mind-body connection in treating illness. For all its influence across popular culture, religion, politics, and medicine, this psycho-spiritual movement remains a maligned and misunderstood force in modern life. In response, One Simple Idea corrects several historical misconceptions about the positive-thinking movement, rescues its pioneers from obscurity, and explores the lives of its most dramatic personalities, including Napoleon Hill and Norman Vincent Peale.

As Horowitz writes, the positive-thinking movement is vastly appealing both for its sense of possibility and the challenge it poses to religious conformity, as well as its practical application. In the past century, however, positive thinking won the hearts of American but lost the heads. One Simple Idea explores how the philosophy failed to address its own deficiencies and shortcomings. Lack of formal structure and an unscientific foundation lead many to dismiss the positive-thinking approach, particularly as no one has satisfyingly answered the age-old question: Does it work? Horowitz addresses these flaws and declares with intellectual seriousness that yes, positive thinking does produce results.

Both an eye-opening look into American spiritual history and a rousing challenge to critics, One Simple Idea is a compelling portrait of a still-unfolding modern Reformation.” – publisher description


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