A lot has been written about the power of positive thinking, and at first glance it seems very, well, positive. It would be difficult to carry on or even get through the day if we did not believe that at some point, some day, things will work out just fine. With the growing popularity of self-help books and life coaches, we are often led to believe that anything is achievable, as long as we put our mind to it. Well, what is wrong with that? Surely, we want the best for ourselves and our families, and as counsellors we want the best for our clients. Yet, over the years, I have often experienced a growing discomfort around what I call extreme positivity and uncurbed enthusiasm, popularized by motivational speakers, coaches and other people I know. For a long while, I found that I could not quite understand or explain that discomfort, which would often grow into deep annoyance. Am I simply jealous? Or am I rejoicing in cultivating a little bit of misery and suffering in the dark corners of my heart? Or is it, perhaps, that I do not quite believe the pep talk? Maybe it is all three, but I would like to look at the believing part here. A popular Polish writer, Slawomir Mrozek, wrote a story about a man who could achieve his goals by wanting them hard enough. He did not have musical talents or voice, but when he wanted it really badly, he could sing beautifully. He did not speak a word of English, but when he concentrated really hard on his desire to speak it, he was able to speak fluently. This was of course a comedy, but it reminds me somewhat of motivational theories. As long as you know what you want, you want it badly enough, and believe that you can do it, that is the key to success. I am sure it sells well, because it sounds easy. I have to be honest. I am not comfortable with that, neither am I convinced. All those things are of course necessary, but is that enough? Is visualizing your goals, and having a firm belief in success enough? Many motivational theories would have us believe that it is all up to us, in our hands, and that our desire to obtain certain things, or achieve certain goals, is in itself enough. This may not necessarily be the case. What about our environment, and the external conditions, that can either foster or interfere with our plans? Sometimes, the environment can be difficult to change. Finally, what about our competencies and skills? After all, we must have the ability to do whatever it is that we want to achieve, or have a contingency plan. Can positive thinking obscure that somewhat? And, what is the price to pay?