Positively bad thinking

“Anybody who ever built an empire, or changed the world, sat where you are now,” says George Clooney’s “termination engineer” to just-fired employees in the comedy Up in the Air. Satire? Hardly. “We Got Fired! … And It’s the Best Thing that Ever Happened to Us!” declares one book title. There’s a cottage industry built around convincing canned workers that they just won the lottery.

A whole chapter is devoted to it in Barbara Ehrenreich’s brilliant exposé of our smiley-faced culture in Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. It’s “an ideological force in American culture,” she says, “that encourages us to deny reality, submit cheerfully to misfortune, and blame only ourselves for our fate.”

Read my Forbes Online review of Ehrenreich’s provocative and powerful book.