If you’re someone who dismisses The Smiths as ‘miserable’ and are prone to a continually positive outlook, dismissing any negativity, here’s a different perspective.
Svend Brinkmann in his tongue in cheek resistance of the self-improvement craze, Stand Firm asks us to stand firm against continual development and the latest fad. Using modern world examples and ancient Greek Stoic philosophy we can stop demanding instant success and positive thinking and live with things occasionally being a bit rubbish and then maybe try and fix them rather than ignore it in a sea of saccharine. In a world of constant self improvement and ‘finding ourselves’ to go out and conquer the world, Brinkman offers 7 steps to take a critical look at the positivity at all costs and expensive gurus.
- Cut out the navel-gazing – it’s not all about you! Don’t always listen to your gut feelings – do some thinking.
- Focus on the negative in your life – If something’s not working, recognise it.
- Put on your No hat – If it’s not right or you can’t do it, say so!
- Suppress your feelings – Toddlers have tantrums in the supermarket, you don’t have to even though you feel as though you want to.
- Sack your coach – Stop paying someone for coaching or therapy. Coaching or trying to find the answer from within is all well and good but there’s lots of information and research out there. Thinking and reading instead?
- Read a novel – not a self-help book or biography – Novels give us lots of different viewpoints and deal with joy, love, frustration and pain. Looking at many perspectives gives you a broader view of the world. Brinkmann says read at least one a month.
- Dwell on the past – The past has lots to be learned from unless of course you listen to motivational quotes and self-help gurus.
The book should be read with an open and inquisitive mind with the intention of Brinkmann looking at the extremes of self-help and constant development. From a sociological perspective it is interesting to look at the idea of individuals encouraged to go out and get whatever they want, regardless of others. Examples of the awful pick up artists book, The Game or motivational millionaire Tony Robbins (see below) promoting the individual trampling over others to succeed, throw a serious side to the self-help craze of the individual over society.
Brinkmann takes the ideas to extremes but next time you’re wrapped in a ball of positivity or told to keep your negativity in check – get some critical thinking done.
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