Positivity is a tool. Cut the philosophy

October 2, 2016 Jason 1 comment

Happy shiny people, smile! That’s if they are not annoying the hell out of everybody else.


World-wide, there’s this tiny emerging movement against all things happy and positive. I say emerging because while the pro-sadness tribe have been around for some years they are only cautiously embraced. It’s still not politically correct to tell people to appreciate their sadness and aggro, and Ms Sunshine over there is actually more muppet than role model. That makes you unpopular, and not a team player, criticisms that are positively career suicide if you’re the ambitious and establishment kind.


The culmination of the “whole person movement” was Pixar’s release in 2015 of “Inside Out”, a movie which demonstrates the limits of Joy, and Sadness as its necessary ally for the complete life. Since then, however, one has hardly heard its lessons discussed or its holism propagated. My point, exactly. Happy shiny is sticky.


Like anything that sticks, it also suffocates. It needs to be used sparingly.


As a positive psychology practitioner, I confess that I don’t in the least bit practice positiveness every day, if at all. I use it when I need it, but it certainly isn’t central to my life. It’s a tool as much as my key is the way into my front door. Without my key there’s no way I can get into the house to feed my cat, listen to Max Richter on Sonos, get slumbered on a foam mattress and do all the other nourishing stuff to prep for the trivialities and annoyances of tomorrow and its people. Yet there are other occasions when I don’t need this key, such as when I’m out cycling or out commiserating with pals over too many gin and tonics. The point is to know when to use it. Positive psychology becomes bunkum when it forms one’s life philosophy, like if someone insists we should drink eight cups of coffee every day in place of water because antioxidants are good for you. At best, it’s an accent and an art piece to salve savaged hearts.


Like everything tasty in life, it needs to be drizzled, not poured. And definitely not consumed from ready-to-eat bowls. Try it wisely.



1 Comment on “Positivity is a tool. Cut the philosophy

  1. Bravo. I think it’s totally correct that each emotion has it’s limits, and life is a spectrum, not one single color: Like countries, it will be much more fun if we can experience and taste the differences.

    All happy and shiny life is like a donut with heavy glaze icing for some it’s delicious, for me it hurts my teeth:(

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