Barbara Ehrenreich, the renowned political activist, journalist, and author of the bestselling expose Nickel and Dimed, visits the RSA to explore the tyranny of positive thinking and its role in any number of our current social and political ailments.
Is there something wrong with a society that tells us we can have what we want if only we focus hard enough, adopt a relentlessly positive outlook, and really, really hope for it? What kind of example does the plethora of self-help books and motivational speakers set in a practical world of markets, job losses and random, unpredictable events? Does our self-analysing, "think positive" therapeutic culture prevent us from approaching problems by banding together in a practical and efficient way? Can change in the world really be brought about by such an individualistic and self-directed approach?
In highlighting the distinction between thinking positively and taking positive action for change, Ehrenreich urges a move away from an inward-looking, apathetic society, and toward a more pro-active and realistic one.