The Tyranny of Optimism

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Optimism is a state of mind in which an individual will tend to “expect the best possible outcome or dwell on the most hopeful aspects of a situation” ( Over the past few decades, optimism has become more than just a state of mind; it has become its own empire, a power in itself. In Barbara Ehrenreich’s book, “Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America,” she expands on the notion that optimism, or positive thinking, has emerged as a strong “ideological force in American culture…--one that encourages us to deny reality, submit cheerfully to misfortune, and blame only ourselves for our fate” (Ehrenreich 43-4). By using her own experience of being a breast cancer victim, a victim constantly bombarded by pink ribbon culture and the overwhelmingly positive attitude that comes with it, she shows how America’s “retreat from real life drama and tragedy of human events is suggestive of a deep helplessness at the core of positive thinking” (Ehrenreich 59). Many movements have been overrun by the power of positive thinking that swept the nation, including the breast cancer movement. With all the campaigns, pink products, and corporate sponsorships that the movement has come by, a sort of breast cancer culture was created. This culture, otherwise known as pink ribbon culture, is deeply rooted in positive thinking. The problem with positive thinking is that it distracts us from the reality we are living in, a reality where we have yet to find a cure to breast cancer, and that it makes us lose sight of larger problems at play. Positive thinking does more than just divert our attention away from our primary goal to eliminate breast cancer completely with the discovery of a cure, it ... ... middle of paper ... once and for all as long as positive thinking is a domineering force in America. Works Cited Ehrenreich, Barbara. Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. New York, NY: Henry Holt and, 2009. Print. Holland, Jimmie C., and Sheldon Lewis. "The Tyranny of Positive Thinking." The Human Side of Cancer: Living with Hope, Coping with Uncertainty. New York: HarperCollins, 2000. Print King, Samantha. Pink Ribbons, Inc.: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2006. Print. Sulik, Gayle A. Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women's Health. New York: Oxford UP, 2011. Print. "optimism." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. 2003. Houghton Mifflin Company 7 Dec. 2011
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