12 Most Negative Results of Positive Thinking

12 Most Negative Results of Positive Thinking

A fellow 12 Most contributor wrote an excellent post about online sniping, where she mentioned the “everybody wins” mindset. That’s the phenomenon of never saying anything negative, only giving positive strokes to other writers. After all, writing is hard. (Correction: good writing is hard.)

Having been in the working world for some four decades, I’ve noticed this tendency to adopt an “everything is awesome” attitude. It began sometime in the 80’s, I think, when we stopped calling things “problems” and started calling them “issues.” Fast-forward to today, to a generation of workers who grew up being told that their every thought, every gesture, every creation was brilliant. Every kid makes the team, and every kid gets a trophy. Everybody wins.

Except they don’t. The problem with all this positivity is that it leads to some seriously negative outcomes. If you can’t stand the slightest bit of criticism or any degree of failure, these are the potential results.

1. Shallowness

This one needs no explaining; if you’re shallow, you won’t know it.

2. Mediocrity

If it “is what it is,” it never gets good.

3. Laziness

Pointing out problems (oops, issues) means you might have to do something about it.

4. Danger

Dude, like actual bad things can happen to you if you don’t see them coming.

5. Blind-sidings

It may not kill you, but an inability to think critically leads to nasty surprises.

6. Isolation

Let’s face it: most of the world’s problems are caused by other people. To avoid problems, you’ll have to avoid people.

7. Lack of recognition

Finding and fixing a problem before the boss does will get you pats on the back.

8. Inauthenticity

Some things are not awesome, like babies with cancer and life in a nursing home. No amount of saying they are fine will make them so.

9. Meanness

Allowing someone else to go blindly and blithely down a wrong path isn’t nice.

10. Cheapness

Poverty and other social ills are true problems; if you don’t acknowledge the problem, you’re off the hook for putting some cash to it.

11. Annoyance

It’s infuriating when Mr. Awesome is sitting on his can while the rest of us go fix the totally-not-awesome problem. Here’s where positive thinking leads to “jerkdom.”

12. A bad legacy

Spend your life deciding everything is hunky-dory and that all efforts, no matter how lame, get a prize, and that’s what you’ll teach your children.

We need to decide that critical thinking is a good thing, in order to find out what’s not working so well and to make it better. If I’m harshin’ yer buzz, I’m sorry. For a positively awesome book on the problem with positive thinking, read Brightsided by Barbara Ehrenreich.

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Featured image courtesy of César Rincón licensed via Creative Commons.

Kim Phillips


Kim Phillips is the founder of Lucid Marketing and author of the Lucid at Random blog.  With over 30 years of experience in corporate advertising for a major financial institution, sales and marketing, Kim provides clients with marketing communication strategies, branding, content management and creative services.  She is a teacher and speaker, and she finds time for musings and the occasional rant on her personal blog. 

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