Photo Credit: Jesus Solana

“Positive thinking;” is there any phrase which stirs up more spiteful anger in me? There’s nothing wrong with optimism when things are going well, but when something genuinely blows we should be able to express that as well. Except now we have a bunch of happinazis imploring us to use constructive criticism and telling us, “if you can’t say something nice . . .” I don’t need my life cluttered with elementary school teachers muttering “mmm-kay” after every sentence. Forcing optimism on other people is in essence an excuse for passive aggression. Notice that the same people who pretend they are in a PG-13 movie get unreasonably vindictive and controlling when someone will not jump on the sunshine bandwagon. The truth is that these people are afraid of negative emotions. But I am not, especially whilst inflicting them on deserving assholes.

Positive thinking is for small minded people and therefore comes in bite-sized chunks of stupidity such as “turn that frown upside down” or “a stranger is a friend you haven’t met!” No, no it isn’t. Remember all those people you know, but are not friends with? (check your Facebook profile) Yeah, exactly, so stuff it. As if we are all in some Catholic monastery and the nuns are going to paddle us if we don’t walk around like rosy-cheeked cherubim. Along with nuns, these people are the only ones who are offended by swearing, of all things, the most fun part of having something go wrong. Why are curse words offensive? Because the happinazis choose to be offended by them.

Which brings us to the central idea of positive thinking that one can define good and bad without any reference to content. At the core of this is the philosophy that happiness is a state of mind. Therefore to be happy one need only choose to see the silver lining even when it doesn’t exist. I cannot disagree more. Certainly outlook affects how a person reacts to a situation, but it still depends on the situation. Appearing euphoric in all circumstances is possible in two ways: a total disregard for reality, or the belief that appearance of goodwill fundamental defines an event. The first is insanity, the second, sociopathy. For if we dare no admittance to negativity and our positivity consists of inserting a smile and a please into every interaction, then do we really feel anything at all?

Consider positive thinking behavior therapy which promises to identify negative thoughts and eliminate them thus making the patient a more wholesome and fulfilled individual. Did I mention that part of the therapy involves daily exercise and a nutritional cleanse diet? Perhaps if you stopped eating Cheetos on your couch and lamenting about your favorite soap opera characters you might be a better person without the “counseling.” Psychological science has already shown that the most effective single treatment for depression is physical exercise, beating out even the best prescription medications.  Why?  In part because the patient feels that they are taking conscious, active steps towards improving.  This is the cause of much of the placebo effect.  The error Positive Thinking makes is mistaking the belief in a cure for actively engaging in a cure.  If belief could heal, Christian Science would work.  What, do I really need to put in a link to how much that fails?  The gap between reality and perception of reality, between the support of a true emotional state and the facade which takes so much effort to hold up is bound to cause cognitive dissonance resulting in latent hostility, resentment, etc.: in short, the happinazi I so thoroughly detest.