Positive thinking doesn’t work (and makes us unhappy)

I recently wrote an article called 5 Ways Positive Thinking Makes Us Miserable At Work. Among other things I argue that faking happiness and positivity is stressful and contributes to quelling dissent and problem-solving.

And now I can add a 6th reason: positive thinking doesn’t work. From the article:

across dozens of peer-reviewed studies examining the effects of positive visions of the future on people pursuing various kinds of wishes — from health-related, such as losing weight, quitting smoking, or recovering quickly from surgery, to the improvement of professional or academic performance (for example, mid-level managers wishing to reduce job-related stress, graduate students looking for a job, or school children seeking to get good grades) — we’ve consistently found that people who positively fantasize make either the same or less progress in achieving attainable wishes than those who don’t.

So while happiness at work is a fantastic thing that we should all strive for, positive thinking is not the way to do it.

One thought on “Positive thinking doesn’t work (and makes us unhappy)”

  1. Hmmm… since there’s only two ways of thinking, so I assume you mean to say that thinking negatively is much better for most people? Doesn’t that lead to a lot of miserable people affecting the moods of others in a bad way just so they can benefit themselves?

    Personally, I’m always better when I’m positive about things, and people seem to respond well to me because of the positivity. Sure, there are times when it’s hard to be positive about something, in which case I’m just fairly realistic about it until I can figure it out. But I feel it’s the positive part of my nature that helps push me through, and I’d have to go to the dark side as a motivational tool.

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