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Chapter 8 entitled “Mind Cure and the Happiness Machine” by William Leach focuses on the philosophy of mind cure that turned into some kind of religion in the early 20th century, as well as on its underlying premises, bright representatives and the impact on all spheres of life in the USA, including economic, religious, social, and cultural. The chapter is highly informative in this respect and covers several decades of the early 20th century with a particular emphasis on the influence of the above mentioned matter on economy.
Overall, mind cure may be considered as a peculiar philosophy that gave a rise to a wide range of various religious groups and ideas, leaving the foundational premises the same. William James was the first psychologist who drew the public attention to this particular notion (Leach 226). Supporters of the philosophy, often refered to as “new healers” believed that positive thinking and optimistic outlook could significantly influence their lives and make them much better, and urged to abandon the negative thinking and such emotions as worry, anxiety, and fear. Besides, they were sure that by wishing for success sincerely and by thinking of themselves as of successful people, sooner or later they would really become such.
In a nutshell, representatives of the mind cure philosophy claimed that people were responsible for their lifestyles and for everything that happened in their lives, which is why the positive thinking is so important. Based on these assumptions, there were religious groups founded on the premises of the philosophy, claiming that the Christian religion was erroneous in terms of its belief that all human beings could and should be considered as sinners. Hence, they preferred to think that individuals could become divine and happy if they deeply believed in their divine nature. In terms of the impact of this philosophy on the economy, supporters of the mind cure believed in supply and abundance, as well as adopting a positive approach to economics. They refused previous noions of scarcity and self-denial and since the new ideas were more appealing, they attracted wide support from the public.
Withal, mind cure supporters sincerely considered themselves to be the rulers of their own life, i.e. their wishful thinking governed everything that happened to them. They advocated for abandoning the past and adopting a positive approach to all aspects of living. According to this philosophy, if an individual decides to be happy, they will turn into a sort of a happiness machine able to realize all wishes and live in a truly productive and fulfilling way.
Although I cannot imagine myself becoming a convert of a religion based on the mind cure philosophy as it greatly resembles a sect, some of the ideas are quite appealing and can be really integrated into a daily routine. These ideas primarily concern positive thinking and its potential impacts on human life, which have been also confirmed by some psychologists. Yet, it is sometimes difficult for me to abandon negative thinking patterns and negative emotions. I tend to worry a lot about all kinds of things, the overwhelming majority of which may be considered as trifles in the grand scheme of things in the world. Thus, it seems beneficial to adopt a deep belief in the good impact of positive thinking and that it can help to avoid serious problems. Besides, it seems that people who have taught themselves to feel happy all the time or at least most of the time are merely bound to be optimists and tackle all life difficulties with a smile and a sincere conviction that they can overcome anything the destiny throws at them.
When I was a child, I had serious problems with math. At school, we were studying the basics of this subject, but I simply could not understand anything the teacher was saying. Sometimes, it seemed to me that the teacher was speaking a foreign language and all my classmates knew this language. I was extremely frustrated and spent many evenings literally crying over the textbook as I was desperately trying to understand all these strange things that math seemed ffor me then. I started fearing classes and sometimes even thought of silly reasons not to go to school when we had math. The teacher noticed my frustration and asked me one day to stay after the lesson. She offered to come to her after classes and was patiently explaining all the material that I found confusing. We laughed a lot during these extracurricular lessons as she was inserting jokes and creating a funny and positive atmosphere. She even gave me candies for accomplishing tasks. Soon, I found myself smiling at math lessons and solving tasks along with other classmates. I overcame my barrier and learned this previously maddeningly confusing language of math. I did not realize it back then, but now I know that positive attitude helped me to cope with my fear and confusion. Thanks to my teacher, I have learned to smile when facing the difficult, which has significantly assisted me in life with overcoming other problems. This is my best personal example of how positive attitude can become extremely helpful in life, which complies with the mind cure philosophy to some extent.
In general, the article under consideration is well-written and easily comprehensible in addition to being highly informative and providing a thorough description of the mind cure philosophy. The author supports theoretical basis of this philosophy with some religious ideas adopted by groups who founded their own beliefes under the impact of the philosophy. Besides, it seems essential to learn about the influence of mind cure on economics and other spheres of social life like literature. Based on the chapter, it becomes evident that mind cure was quite wide-spread and influential in the beginning of the 20th century and it had many supporters, including famous people who shaped directions for future development of significant sciences, including arts and economics. Although not all ideas seem sustainable and well-justified, some of them, especially regarding the importance of positive thinking, are worth implementing in daily life of all people as they positively contribute to the worldview and assist in coping with daily troubles.
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