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Staying Positive

Here’s a mix of twenty-one tracks to inspire and uplift, occasionally veering into the cornball but mostly keeping it real, including music by Oneida, Ella Fitzgerald and Desmond Dekker.

When I look back over the last few years, there’s sure plenty to get down about: floods, murder, war, personal hardships aplenty for my family and friends. Yet through it all I have continually returned to a more or less positive mindset that amazes even me. Maybe it’s genetic, or maybe it’s the way I was raised. I’ve had many differences with my father over the years, but one fundamental thing we agree on is the value of staying positive. Dad’s actually quite devoted to the philosophy articulated by Norman Vincent Peale in The Power of Positive Thinking. I’ve never actually read the book, but that hasn’t stopped me from forming an opinion. Peale’s philosophy seems too Pollyanna-ish, and indeed that’s my main criticism of my father — that he doesn’t seem to me to take seriously the pain and negative aspects inherent in this existence. For my part, I try not to shrink from harsh realities; I still nourish a great deal of anger over injustice in society, and the universe seems to me a basically absurd place. But I agree with Camus: “Crushing truths perish from being acknowledged.” At the end of the day, I share my father’s conviction that it’s important to stay positive. I really don’t have any other choice.

Published inFamilyMusic & Audio


  1. Grampa Ray Grampa Ray

    After graduating from a Technical high school in Chicago, I was unable to get a decent job in the business world. So, I joined the Army for two years and rose to the high rank of PFC and moved back in with my parents in Chicago. In those days, I was often depressed and had occasional suicidal thoughts. Life was not good.
    Then, I read Norman Vincent Peal’s book and also stumbled on a quote from Rene Descartes: “Cogito Ergo Sum”, “I think, therefore I am”, After that, my life changed. I went to night school, got married, got two degrees, got a good job, had two children, and never had another suicidal thought. The wisdom from those two men changed my life.

    Bart’s Dad

  2. Grampa Ray Grampa Ray

    If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.
    Rene Descartes

  3. Beth Beth

    I very much admire positivity. Thanks for putting together a mix to encourage it. It inspired N. (4) to do some mighty funky dancing.

  4. Jaime Coffman Jaime Coffman

    Life is too short to be miserable. I went through a period a few years ago in which I lost two siblings, my mom and my marriage. I moved 500 miles back to my hometown and started a new job. Bought and sold a home. A lot to stress over. I have learned along the way that you have to laugh at yourself and that you cannot sweat the small stuff. Life is precious and wasting time being miserable is not an option for me.

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