If I sold you a shiny, sugar-coated pill that I called “positivity,” would you swallow it without considering the risks? Would you ignore the fine print about side effects and dangers — just because the name “positivity” makes it sound like it must be a good thing? Or would you check what is actually in this pill and make sure there is solid evidence that these ingredients are both effective and safe?
Much of what is being labeled “positivity” — such as trying to make yourself think positive thoughts and look happy when you’re not — is widely accepted by the public as an indisputably good thing when it isn’t. These things may help some people some of the time, but for many other people they are quite harmful. And in fact, the people most likely to be harmed by forced “positivity” are the ones who are most at risk to suffer from feeling bad about themselves and their lives.
Yes, it makes sense to try to act with more compassion and respect for both yourself and others. And to remind yourself to notice the good parts of things along with the bad parts. But the package known as “positivity” contains only a little of this, and a lot of other added ingredients, including forced smiling, feeling as if there is something wrong with you if you don’t always have optimistic/confident thoughts, and pressure to compete with others over who looks more positive.
When you say that a goal of yours is to “be positive,” or when you use “positivity” as a hashtag, ask yourself what the heck you really mean to say. If what you mean by “being positive” is really more a matter of something like “being kind,” (or less judgmental, or less of a perfectionist, or less rigid in your thinking, etc.) why not just say that? Or are you actually wanting to provide free advertising for quackery being sold to help people compete in a potentially deadly race to nowhere?