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Beyond Toxic Positivity

  • Posted by: Ellen Kandell

When people are experiencing conflict, friends and family may urge them to stay positive. But as organizational psychologist and author Adam Grant points out, positivity can be toxic.

In hard times, urging people to be positive doesn’t boost their resilience. It denies their reality.

People in pain don’t need good vibes only. They need a hand to stay steady through all the vibrations.

Strength doesn’t come from forced smiles. It comes from feeling supported.

Over the past month, I’ve been diving into the science and practice of emotional authenticity and emotion regulation. Listen here:


Of course, there’s a difference between welcoming unpleasant emotions and wielding them as weapons. If you haven’t read Chicken Littles are ruining America, it’s a powerful reminder that spreading doom and gloom is a self-fulfilling prophecy. No one needs constant positivity, but everyone needs a sense of possibility.

If you’re looking for new insights about how to solve problems, Bob Sutton has a wealth of insight on overcoming friction: Apple | Spotify | Transcript

And if you’re grappling with what’s next, Jared Cohen dives into how seven American presidents decided to use their time after leaving office: Apple | Spotify | Transcript

In solidarity,


Author: Ellen Kandell

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