Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Tyranny of Positive Thinking

Everyone has heard “Just look on the bright side!” or “Happiness is a choice—so choose to be happy!”

Countless self-help books on choosing happiness line the shelves of bookstores; You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero has been on the New York Times best-seller list for 32 weeks; and The Power of Positive Thinking by the Reverend Norman Vincent Peale, published in 1952 and translated into 15 languages, is still popular today.

The idea that you can be happy if you simply choose to be has been integrated into America’s military, classrooms and workplaces to improve coping skills, performance and mental health. But as the movement’s popularity grew, it started being used to shame people with depression, anxiety or even occasional negative feelings. The August and October issues of Motivation and Emotion, the official journal of the Society for the Study of Motivation, have studies that prove the shaming is real. 

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