Tony Robbins is in My House

Liam Neeson in Star Wars Episode I

Liam Neeson in Star Wars Episode I

“Your focus becomes your reality,” or so says Liam Neeson’s Jedi to a young Darth Vader in Star Wars Episode 1.

The dialogue noted above is related to the power of positive thinking. This term — which originated as the title of Norman Vincent Peale’s controversial 1952 book — is now the slogan for the self-help movement.

Book cover courtesy of

Book cover courtesy of

But does it? Does glass-half-full, positive thinking, really matter?

These sort of questions have come to mind as BR seems to have morphed into the 9-year-old version of Tony Robbins.

In the last week or so BR is regularly giving me high fives for effort, calling out such encouragements as “nice try” or “nice one.” He has offered comfort by telling me, “at least you tried.” Unfortunately, there have been some flashes of negativity and a couple of minor meltdowns as well, but I bet even Robbins, Dale Carnegie, and Ekhart Tolle get frustrated once in a while.

My wife and I were discussing our positive little guru the other night. One question arose. What has inspired this?

Now don’t get me (or my wife) wrong. It’s nice to see BR so positive though watching him call out encouragement to the baseball players on the Wii is amusing.

Anyway, we could not answer what has gotten into BR. He did start a social skills camp the other day. The camp’s philosophy is based on the comic book You are a Social Detective by Michelle Garcia Winner, Pamela Crooke and illustrated by Kelly Knopp. The purpose of the book/camp is to help children become good social detectives by using their “eyes, ears, and brains to figure out what others are planning to do next or are presently doing and what they mean by their words and deeds.” ( My wife swears these books have helped BR to become more aware socially. I think the camp has had an effect but this ‘everybody-is-a-winner-type attitude’ began before the camp.

But does being positive really matter? Well, Michael F. Schier certainly thinks so. Schier is the co-author of a seminal 1985 study, “Optimism, Coping, and Health: Assessment and Implications of Generalized Outcome Expectancies” in Health Psychology. In an interview from April 20th, 2012 that appeared in The Atlantic, Schier said, “I think it’s now safe to say that optimism is clearly associated with better psychological health, as seen through lower levels of depressed mood, anxiety, and general distress, when facing difficult life circumstances, including situations involving recovery from illness and disease.”

Martin Seligman who wrote a book in 1990 entitled Learned Optimism concurs that there are many benefits to having an optimistic outlook. Seligman says that, “Optimists are higher achievers and have better overall health.” On the other hand, “pessimists are more likely to give up in the face of adversity or to suffer from depression.” Seligman, similarly as Schier, believe that optimists have better coping strategies and are more easily able to overcome setbacks. Most importantly, Seligman believes pessimists can learn to be optimists.

Chart is courtesy of

Chart is courtesy of

It seems clear there are benefits to having a positive attitude. After all, don’t we all prefer to be around happy people? So while I am uncertain over the exact reason and benefit of BR’s positive attitude, I do enjoy the results. Great job, BR!



Blah, Blah, Blah

Blah, blah, blah.  Not even chocolate tastes that good.  What’s up?  I don’t know. Everything is fine.  No blues or reds or greens – just grey. Plain low-fat oatmeal.  I’m not going anywhere with this. I don’t know what is going on. I’ve had this feeling for a little while now, and I don’t know why.  I’d like to blame it on January. I hate January. I wrote a whole story about my feelings for this month. It was quite witty, and I do say so myself.  While this January has been on the warm side, there is still the darkness. I told my wife I may have S.A.D. She laughed – thanks Florence Nightingale.  She’s probably right.  Depression can stem from a chemical imbalance and is a serious issue. Thankfully, while I may suffer from an imbalance, it’s not chemical. Thus, I can’t be labeled. Yes, I’ve had the blahs before, but who hasn’t?  However, there is no trend.  

Life has not been terrible – far from it.  Firstly, you got the basics – health – family and meü, working/paying the billsü, house ü. My family and I recently went away for the night. My wife and I celebrated our 10th anniversary.  Bruce Springsteen released a new single, an album is on the way, and tour dates have been announced.  All good things that should contribute to a joyous contented me.  Yup, yup, yup.

I don’t know what to do. Maybe, there is nothing to do about it. Maybe it’s okay to be a little sad, bummed, or depressed.  There was an Everybody Loves Raymond episode where Raymond discovers that Debra likes to be by herself sometimes and have a good cry every once in a while. She is convinced it is a good cleansing while he thinks she is unhappy. Funny episode.  Anyway, I am not suggesting that. It sounds pretty feminine to me and besides, I’m not much of a crier.  Our society places so much emphasis on – must be busy, must be happy. However, I think it is natural to feel a little down every once in a while. I read a book about optimism and the psychologist noted that everyone gets down at times. However, optimists bounce back quicker.  Therefore, I’ll continue living and a remedy will avail itself.  After all, I believe happiness is a choice.  As part of my treatment and desire for happiness, I’ll keep right on eating that chocolate. You never know which piece might do the trick. I’m a good patient.