Positivity vs. Toxic Positivity

By Keenan J. Emery, VanNatta Public Relations

In times like these, it’s easy to be negative. When was the last time you heard a positive story on the news? Oregon feels like a pot of boiling water, frothing and churning, threatening to spill over the sides at any minute. Many people are trapped in their homes, losing money, losing connections with loved ones, and trying to find some glimmer of hope in the darkness.

So what to do? The easy answer is to say, “you need to find a silver lining,” “try to be more positive,” “smile through the pain,” “just don’t think about it,” etc. But beware, by doing this, you are adopting toxic positivity. This concept is the idea of portraying yourself as being happy no matter what is going on. You don’t allow yourself to focus on negative things and only look at the bright side. 

While staying positive and optimistic has its benefits, the main issue with toxic positivity is that you ignore your problems. Studies show by rejecting and ignoring negative emotions, we cultivate more negative emotions. By chasing happiness constantly, we really hyper-focus on unhappy things to purge them from our lives. In short, you make yourself worse off by avoiding negative thoughts and emotions.

On the flip side, pure positivity is a powerful tool. Most people would agree that being happy and content is one of their biggest goals in life. Numerous studies have shown that optimists are physically and psychologically healthier than pessimists. The trick is not to ignore the negative/bad thoughts and emotions, either.

Who would argue that they are a better version of themselves when happy? Research reveals that people who work with a positive mindset are more productive, creative, and engaged. Researchers have found a direct correlation between life satisfaction and successful business outcomes. Happy people are more satisfied with their jobs and report having greater autonomy in their duties. Additionally, they perform better than their less happy peers and receive more support from coworkers. They are more likely to be employed and more likely to be physically healthier and live longer.

In short, the benefits of trying to be more positive far outway any side effects. Just remember to acknowledge the negativity and the hard parts. You will live a zestful, happy life and will find more career success.

You got this.

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