The Perils of Positivity

In doing my meditation/mindfulness work, I meet many folks who focus much of their thought, mind and spirit on being positive. Most would think this is a total, kick butt way to live. There are even companies, websites and Facebook pages committed to the upbeat idea.

So, here comes Debbie Downer (that’s me) to tell ya that pursuing positivity can actually foster the opposite. Ooo, negativity! Hiss! Boo!

How can that be?

OK… think about it or even better, feel it. To focus on the positive, you must also somehow/someway acknowledge the negative. In other words, to see one; you must also see the other. And, what do you do with this negativity? You must rise above it, step it up, push it away or push it down. Feel those last couple of words… they are all about workin’ it. Basically what is created in this scenario is an inner, energetic tug of war creating conflict between your mind and soul.

Also, let’s talk about the judgment component. At its heart, positivity on some level can’t be done without also judging. If you judge something, you are not only critiquing the person or situation but you are also, in essence, critiquing yourself. Good, bad, smart, stupid, unjust, corrupt, mean, nice. Your mind struggles and picks to figure out what is “right.”

To end this push/pull, I recommend stepping into mindfulness – a gentler process of learning to see things from a broader and more empathetic perspective.

How is this done? Don’t get me wrong, it ain’t easy. It is an evolution that is incredibly simple, yet very challenging. It involves watching yourself like a graceful hawk.

When you see yourself going into positivity mode, get back into you by utilizing your breath and examine the situation again. Take the time to feel your body and then really see what your mind is doing and how the two interact. Why are you critiquing this person/situation? Where does it make you internally uncomfortable? Why do you not “like” what is going on? Question everything gently and see what you discover.

Initially, this takes a good deal of effort but as you continue the process it becomes more and more automatic. You will also find that so many of your judgments are about old ideas or perceptions. Ideas that you don’t need to carry anymore or that you acted on with total unawareness.

So, be aware. Be in touch. Move into authenticity mode. This is learning to just be yourself in any moment and also allowing others to do the same. That is pure freedom!

Then you will discover something else quite radical. Nobody is ever wrong or right or just or unjust… everything just is. The battle is now officially over.

Written by Eden Kozlowski, Co-Editor of the Meditation page on

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Duane B.
.2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Leslie R.
Leslie R.2 years ago

I agree that not accepting the negative defeats the all positive thinking in that it denies apart of who we are. When I am experiencing negative emotions I let them sit with me awhile so I can figure out why I feel so negative and what I can do to change the situation or my negative feeling about the situation. I also practice gratitude which helps to manage negative situations - life is not black or white but a constant blend and range of neg and positive experiences which creates our journey and hopefully the path to growth.

Melissa L.
Melissa L.2 years ago

Great advice!

Heidi Aubrey
Heidi Aubrey2 years ago

Big fat error: your mind IS your soul. Your mind is not your brain. Your brain is the organ your mind/soul operates through.

Your brain as an organ cannot not know of its self the concepts of intelligence, beauty, truth, justice, wisdom. These are constructs of the mind only. Your brain helps you give them structure and form.

Richard T.
Richard T.2 years ago


Lauren Weinstock
Lauren Weinstock2 years ago

If we practice compassion- we can become better beings. This, I believe.

Jennifer R.
Jennifer R.2 years ago

Denial by any other name is still denial.

Denise Morley
Denise Morley2 years ago

Thank you for sharing

Morgan Hartman
Morgan H.2 years ago

this sounds exhausting

Embla Feidje
Embla Feidje2 years ago

I'm not sure if I agree with this... It is proven that positive thinking actually can cure cancer, to name something. Negativity on the other hand doesn't help on anything at all, being negative in every situation is a thing we have gotten used to, but it drags us down.

I agree that we have to acknowledge it when something is actually hard in some way, but that is not really negativity. Positivity helps us come over the problems life has to offer more easily in my opinion.
I just think you turned the concept the wrong way in your article, if you get what I mean.

Mindfulness is probably good, but why does that have to mean positive thinking is wrong?
I don't get it.