The Power of Toxic Positivity

I’ve always been a big fan of positivity and always will be. There are so many benefits to having a positive mindset. Life seems easier when you look at things from a more favorable angel, for example I just decide to take everything as a compliment, no matter how someone meant it. It makes me feel better about myself, but there are actual scientific health benefits – according to the mayo clinichealth benefits that positive thinking may provide include:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress


Basically – by thinking positively you feel better, you do good for your body and life just seems easier. There is no reason not to do it, even though it might be harder to do than it seems. But going into that angel is something for another post, with this post, I want to focus on the point of what happens when you lean too far into the positivity. Namely there is something called “toxic positivity” – which is a negative side effect of being positive all the time. Toxic positivity can be defined as:


We define toxic positivity as the excessive and ineffective overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic state across all situations. The process of toxic positivity results in the denial, minimization, and invalidation of the authentic human emotional experience.

The psychology group


There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Forcing yourself to constantly think on the bright side of things might not acknowledge certain emotions that are meant to be acknowledged. Your life is a spectrum of emotions, if you focus on only the positive ones, you are not living life to the fullest. Life will be filled with grief, sadness or angry. It is normal. Even the Dalai Lama gets angry. It is the pallet that we are made out of and is the essential to living life, to living your best life. The term “positive vibes only” stops you from living your full existence. For example, certain emotions may tell you something about yourself – like jealousy make speak to a need you have inside but were not aware of. By shutting out a part of yourself you shut out to be the best version of yourself. You aren’t helping anyone by shutting away your feelings, brushing stuff off as not important or feeling guilty for how you feel. Least of all, you are not helping but harming yourself.


Instead, accept each emotion. Whatever comes up, learn to embrace it but not act on it (a good skill that can be learned in meditation). Each feeling is valid, even if you may think its childish or silly or “being negative” – there is a reason it is there. Without judgement, learn to acknowledge its existence and try to understand why it is there. And guess what- you will find yourself feeling much more positive.

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