Pinoy ‘Positive Thinking’ and How It Prevents Positive Change

Everyone these days is blabbing about “positive thinking” as if it’s a new religion of some kind. Well, I guess for some it already is a religion and one that they believe can have beneficial impacts on their lives. I even had a friend who recommended the book “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, saying that it could change my life for the better.

positive_thinkingNow look, I think positive thinking is good and all but without positive action, positive thinking will just be that: thinking. Thinking that you and everyone around you will become happy and get along together and that natural disasters won’t come to the Philippines anymore isn’t going to do squat unless you do something about it. In the end, all the so-called positive thinking people talk about will just be a fantasy if no one is willing to act on the perceived “positivity”.

Now another issue I’d like to discuss is how, over the years, GRP has been attacked by commenters claiming that GRP is “negative” and that it just causes needless stress in people. Well, I’ve got news for these people:

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

When in a dangerous forest, closing your eyes and covering your ears won’t make the bears, wolves and snakes that live in it go away. In fact, doing just that will make you easy prey for the said animals.

So what do the topics I mentioned have in common?

They all have to do with just how Filipinos think of “positive thinking” and how it’s supposed to work. The fact that so many people in the country think that just thinking happy thoughts (and doing nothing in the meantime) will make a happy community is a dangerous lie that a lot of Filipinos have put into practice since time immemorial. One can note the many pictures of smiling Yolanda victims being put out today. Are they smiling because they haven’t lost their sense of hope or are they smiling because they have resigned themselves to their fate?

Another point I would like to cite is the way we always make a motto of “walang basagan ng trip” (don’t ruin my enjoyment) as well as more foreign ideas like “they hate us ’cause they ain’t us” and “haters gonna hate”. GRP as well as a lot of other national critics attract a lot of flak for voicing out their opinions in this day and age. These so-called “positive thinkers” seem to think that criticizing the country’s ills is bad because it creates “negativity”. Apparently, the only solution they can offer regarding the country’s problems is deluding oneself into thinking that we all live in a happy and productive country. They somehow think that by pretending or fantasizing that we live in a Utopian Society complete with a royal family (perhaps with Noynoy Aquino as our king and maybe Dingdong and Marian as our Prince and Princess) will somehow make our country just that.

It’s sad to note that the way that most Filipinos cope with the difficulties of their lives is by living in a fairy tale. What’s worse is that they attack anyone who tries to wake them back to reality. Its similar to the way an alcoholic or junkie will refuse to even acknowledge what they are and even attack people when their bad habits are pointed out to them.

It’s quite clear that most Pinoys have a very strange way of defining “positive thinking”. If you ask anyone else, positive thinking is about hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. Its about making the necessary precautions about the negative aspects of life while doing your best for yourself and for others.

Remember always, pretending the bad things in life don’t exist isn’t going to make them go away. Our government will always be corrupt, criminals will always infest our streets and our people will continue to sink deeper into poverty unless we actually do something. You solve problems by confronting them not by ignoring them.

Positivity is about facing the negativity of life and making something positive out of it. Denying and ignoring the negatives has never solved anything. All the positive thinking in the world will amount to nothing if positive actions are not taken.

“La plus belle des ruses du diable est de vous persuader qu’il n’existe pas.”

(“The devil’s finest trick is to persuade you that he does not exist.”)”

― Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen

21 Replies to “Pinoy ‘Positive Thinking’ and How It Prevents Positive Change”

    1. Not the book. I haven’t read it actually.

      I’m talking about how people (most of whom also haven’t read the book) are reacting to its perceived points. Besides, that book is not what this article is about. I just cited it as an example of the way people tend to embrace the concept of “positive thinking” these days.

  1. TRUTH HURTS only if we (Filipino) keep on denying/running away or pretends it’s not happening. Our leaders have to face it, deal with it and hope our condition improve.

    1. @Dale Jose Gozar:

      Why would you want our leaders to “hope our condition improves?”
      We should work towards improving our situation by doing X, Y, and Z. Then evaluate and see if the strategies have been successful. Reject what did not work and try again; this time focusing on what has been demonstrated to be effective. What is needed is public policy based upon social science, and statistical analysis. What is accomplished by HOPE??? It is a quasi- religious. magical concept that Filipinos just will not let go. It does not encourage progress, but hinders it. Why build adequate water storage facilities? If it does not rain, we can pray for more.

  2. Too much positive thinking can lead to self-delusion. You experience a
    false sense of growth because you lower your awareness, blinding
    yourself to your problems instead of truly facing them (Credits to the author)

  3. In The New Living translation of the Bible Proverbs chapter 13 verse 18 says this- If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept criticism, you will be honored.

    1. Awesome, the Bible is known to be the book of life and it is definitely the book of wisdom. With regards to topic take a look a simple Math lesson, positive signed integer times positive signed integer equals to positive integer, negative integer times negative integer still positive integer but positive integer times negative integer equals to negative integer. in other words, plus thinking times plus action equals to positive result, while plus thinking times minus action is equal to negative result. Many people think that thinking criticism and and doing criticism is ultimately give negative result. They are wrong criticism is not similar to insult which has only negative aspect but criticism if you understand it thoroughly is more motivation and challenge to have what is best.

  4. Even without action, positive thinking is already good as a start. Positive action emanates from positive thinking. And I find it hard to accept that you can have positive thought without positive action. Let me explain.

    When we have positive thoughts, do we just keep it to our self? How will people know if we have positive thoughts if they don’t know it? Is action the only way we can prove that we have positive thought? I don’t think so. Action does not necessarily mean you have to physically do something in what you think. Positive thinking when shared is already an action in itself.

    For example, to put it bluntly and with irony, since you brought it up, the GRP people, every time they tackle the issue of what ails the people and country and what should be done to achieve what is good and to change for the better, is already acting out their positive thinking by sharing and spreading their idea. Just by merely letting people know what your thoughts are is already action on your part.

    Having said that, though, I admit there are some, including posters, who are guilty of negative thinking. They see nothing in the future for the country. They are the opposite of positive thinkers. All they talk about is the doom and gloom of the country. No end in sight, no light at the end of the tunnel. Nada. But hey, freedom of speech, remember?

    Back to the issue. I’d rather have people having positive disposition, the optimists or those who believe the doctrine of the ultimate triumph of good over evil than people who have the tendency to expect the worst and see the worst in all things.

    It is so depressing to hear 24/7 someone’s pessimism about the future of our country when what you actually need at the moment is some inspiration, hope and belief in your self and the idea that all your sacrifices will pay off if you just continue to strive and work hard even in your own little way. I said that because many Filipinos are doing exactly just that.

    “Le pire que vous pouvez faire est de penser et de voir le mal dans tout.”

    (“The worst you can do is think and see evil in everything.”)

    🙂 jameboy, Get Real Philippines

  5. I am not a fan of those “Positive Thinkers”. Think Right, but do something about your situation, is my motto.

    Filipinos are very sensitive to criticism. You can just see, how many Bloggers, attacked a certain :Mr. Nasty”, last week. when he wrote something about “star struck ignoramuses” Filipinos.

    I believe in Solving your problems. Instead, of “Fighting” your problems. Thinking positive can help, but you have to act to solve the problem. Hope for the best; but prepare for the worst.

  6. The mindset described in this article is an indication of how, despite 500 years of colonization, Filipinos still believe in the aboriginal concept of magic. There is widespread belief in fairies and encantos. Telenovelas who subject is the fairy world are wildly popular. The Christianity of the Spanish and the rationality of the Americans is just so much Filipino window dressing.

    In terms of magic, positive thinking makes sense. Thinking a negative thought and speaking of negativity out loud will bring negativity into being. There are negative and positive forces in the universe and we are at their mercy.

    I was exploring an area in Northern Luzon called Sagada, which had many unusual rock formations and tree growths. I pointed to one in particular and was immediately chastened and told that evil spirits lived in these trees and that if one pointed to it, the spirits could jump out and invade the body of the one who was pointing and make them very ill. I have also heard numerous tales of human animal hybrid creatures that come out at night and prey upon children.

    1. It would be so singularly unlike conquered or enslaved people in general if we yielded all of our beliefs at once, or even over a staggered amount of time, though some must yield to modification if not obsolescence in recognition of and response to contemporary events and the societal pressures that accompany them — where are the Tagalog dream-spheres that Rizal wrote about, I wonder?

    2. If you’ve read about The Secret, even if it’s not my article, it’s the same thing – magic. That’s why they have a name for the foolishness: “magical voluntarism.”

  7. There are many things in the world, we still don’t know. Sometimes, if your mind is focused , on a certain thing…they will manifest themselves. The mind is still a very complex feature in our being. The brain is a very complicated machine.

    Belief in Supernatural is there; because, we cannot understand them.

    There is an existing Theory in the Scientific World, that: we live in Dimensions and Planes.
    And, there are “living manifestations” in these Planes and Dimensions. Maybe, when we will advance further in Science and Technology, that we will understand these Phenomena…

    1. This is the reason, we have the:Power of Choice. If this power is taken away from us, thru any means: religion, political indoctrination, brainwashing, wrong choices, etc…we will be what we had chosen…or what we have allowed to happen to us…

    2. d forsaken:

      What is that philosophy? Some kind of self reliant mysticism? For the vast majority of people, the accident of their birth has more to do with the outcomes in their life, than any other factor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.