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Cult Gains

Some sects are bad
They can really make you mad
Other sects just make you swear.
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a sizzle . . .

Always look on the bright side of life . . .
Always look on the bright side of death
Go for the bright side of life . . .

Is it for good or bad or something else to look on the bright side of sects and death? Is it good to ask a sectarian about his group, "It is a drawn-out joke, isn't it?" and then hop away?

There is much literature that relates optimism to good outcomes, yet the effects make a many-coloured picture. The benefits and costs of optimism and pessimism and their interplay depend also on individual personality; the kinds of outcomes that are sought, and thoughtful consideration. (Chang 2001, 362)

A way of resolving the explanatory dilemmas hovering over cult forms and the larger societies they are embedded in, is in part a two-way street: (1) reasoning from data aggregates "down" to single cases, and (2) reasoning "up" from many single cases to valid enough collective outlooks. This combined way of trying to disentangle effects is possible. (Carter and New, 2004, 51)

From optimism to being optimally critical and realistic

Although Rosalene Glickman, Ph.D., holds that "positive thinking can motivate us to be productive, efficient, and successful," she goes on to say that "good" may have a "better". Better go for "optimal thinking" and self-optimisation above optimistic thinking, is her verdict, also telling that optimal thinking is optimal realism and not just optimism. (p. 23). The words she resorts to imply "optimal" is "best, greatest, smartest, most profitable, most outstanding" and several others. She uses them in key questions like "What's the best solution?" "- best opportunity?" and confirms, "It's time to acknowledge that positive thinking is not enough." (7-18, passim) Why so? (1) It can be used to suppress negativity; (2) It is often no more than wishful thinking; (3) There are varying shades of positive thinking; (4) Less than optimal thinking is not a good mental basis for peak performance, and (5) It can result in making less of situations than we could. (18-33, passim) Glickman says further:

In Learned Optimism [2006], Dr. Martin Seligman states: "If the cost of failure is high, optimism is the wrong strategy. Sometimes we need to cut our losses and invest elsewhere rather than find reasons to hold on." Optimal Thinkers eliminate unnecessary disappointment, because they entertain realistic expectations and focus on optimizing situations within their control. (Glickman, 23)

Susan Webber says in The Dark Side of Optimism (2008) that looking on the bright side keeps us from thinking critically. It sometimes happens. She also points out that some people overdo optimism, and says it is better to build realism.

Are cult members and technology freaks being "tapped happy"?

Does a cult's progress make its once-on-a-time optimistic single members better or happier? One may cast doubt on such an idea. A hot potato could be who make the decisions that directly influence the lives of bewildered and anxiety-ridden members who get prone to depression, are worried about how others see them, unsure of their cult-given friendships, and with little or no community life outside it. Dare to ask, "Does spending considerable sums of money on a cult in the hope that it will make them freer and happier actually have the reverse effect? Does this tapping of individual resources boost or depress subjective well-being?" The cult membership, does it serve as a gate to a treadmill that leads round and round, round after round? Do some sides to modern technology have similar effects? (Agar 2015)

Wise enough could be good

It may not be good enough just to develop an optimistic attitude, even though careful optimism can help health and longer life. If you leaf through the literature, you may find these things and other helpful points too. It might be better to expect the worst and bulwark against it, so that the worst will not happen, or will happen only rarely, and be less devastating, or not happen at all. Keep all your assets from the cult, and be wise enough not to flounder, for example.

  Contents  


Cult optimism, pessimism, realism, optimality, Literature  

Agar, Nicholas. The Sceptical Optimist: Why Technology Isn't the Answer to Everything. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Carter, Bob, and Caroline New, eds. Making Realism Work: Realist Social Theory and Empirical Research. London: Routledge, 2004.

Chang, Edward C., ed. Optimism and Pessimism: Implications for Research, Theory, and Practice. Washington DC: American Psychological Association, 2001.

Glickman, Rosalene. Optimal Thinking: How to Be Your Best. New York. John Wiley and Sons, 2002.

Inman, Nick. The Optimist's Handbook: Facts, Figures and Arguments to Silence Cynics, Doom-mongers and Defeatists. Petersfield, Hampshire: Harriman House, 2007.

Seligman, Martin. Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. New York: Vintage Books, 2006.

Webber, Susan. The Dark Side of Optimism. The Conference Board Review, January/February 2008.

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