‘Toxic Positivity’ Is a Thing Many Are Experiencing Now

Toxic Positivity definition

By Jessica Stillman

Trying to cheer up your team right now might backfire spectacularly, experts warn.

Over the last decades, as Americans have grown sadder and lonelier by a whole host of measures, our employers have become obsessed with cheering us up. Google and many other companies have “chief happiness officers,” and an army of researchers churn out advice on how to be happier and why we should strive to be so

Of course, being happy is a fine goal (if also a problematic one–there are a lot of competing definitions of happiness), but according to a fascinating and timely new report in The Washington Post, the pursuit of happiness, if taken too far, can actually turn into harmful “toxic positivity.”

It’s a warning that’s particularly resonant at a time when so many of us are trying desperately to cheer ourselves (and our teams) up in the midst of a pandemic, but instead just sinking deeper into malaise despite our efforts. Maybe you’re not chasing happiness wrong. Maybe the chase itself is contributing to your misery. 

Yes, “toxic positivity” exists.

Originally published on inc.com September 14, 2020