Life in America wasn’t easy in the 18th century.
America was carving out its new identity. Science and medicine were floundering in guesswork. Religion was preaching fiery sermons on damnation and hell.
Thinkers mobilized in the 19th and 20th centuries to enforce more scientific, compassionate organization. Not that there is a perfect system today in the 21st century, but much of what these old-time thinkers did, brought us to where we are today.
Author, Mitch Horowitz’s book, One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life, tackles the history of a national movement that echoes in statements such as, “Hey, you need to change your attitude.”
Most of us know the “change” referred to is a more positive attitude.
Positive thinking has its benefits, but it also holds a strong suggestion that people can be responsible for their fortunes, or misfortunes. If the status-quo of positive thinking people isn’t challenged, broader social problems can be marginalized and blaming fingers get pointed where they shouldn’t. The privileged have better results with positive thinking.
I will admit, I like myself better when I have a positive outlook on life. However, in my study of Christian Science, I’ve learned the “positive thinking coin” must be flipped. I need to not just think positive, but I also need to “unsee” the problem.
I can’t just ignore problems. It’s foolish to deny problems as if they aren’t real. But, I can un-see them, just as humankind was able to un-see a flat earth.
The technique of un-seeing is mental.
For example, years ago I had Strep. It included a severe ear pain. There was no positive thinking on my part. I begged God to take away the pain. I called a friend from church for help with prayer, but felt no relief, so called her back and told her I was going to call someone else. Within fifteen minutes it felt as though a pump went on in my ear and puss began flowing out, to my blessed relief.
My husband took me to the doctor who confirmed Strep and prescribed me antibiotics for 10-days. The doctor didn’t have much hope about my hearing returning to normal.
I only took a few of the pills because even the doctor admitted I was on the mend. And, by now, my life picture had broadened.
The bigger picture: At the time I got sick, our young family was moving to another job, home, and community. It was exhilarating yet scary and the stress got to me.
While resting and praying, I could see God in the popular Biblical depiction of a Shepherd. My trust in God as Love to guide me and my family with wisdom and safety solidified. The fear lessened.
What I’m about to write now, sounds totally contradictory, but I saw more clearly, that Strep wasn’t a part of God’s shepherding and this helped me un-see the disease.
I didn’t try to get rid of Strep. I didn’t try to create God. I saw life, and myself, as an image of divine Spirit, Mind.
I didn’t even have a positive human mind of my own. I was image of God. My ear healed quicker than predicted and my hearing returned to normal.
Although I try to have a positive attitude, I don’t rely on it as a source of guidance.
I often seriously scrutinize problems to unsnarl their purpose and makeup, but this mental work is grounded on the fact that the physical body and mind are temporal while I believe God’s mind is substance and eternal.
The Lord Is My Shepherd
A Psalm of David.
23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord