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  • Writer's pictureJuliette Horne

Toxic positivity why chasing ‘happiness’ is overrated

We’re often sold the message that we choose happiness, that if we want it we have to seek it out. Be more positive, ‘only positive vibes’. Happiness is a choice, to an extent, but in reality it is more about being open to and savouring positive experiences than it is about hunting for it.

The reality is that the human emotional experience is inherently negative. Emotion researches have identified around 8-9 core emotions depending on definition. Only 3 of these are positive. So that tells us that our normal, median, middle ground, is actually somewhere within the negative range. How realistic is it to think that we can be in the top 30% all of the time? It simply isn’t.

We are not failures if we can’t seem to win this battle to seek out happiness. In fact, given the science it’s expected. A better use of our energy is to work towards allowing and being present for the full spectrum of human emotion. Knowing that the lows will pass and not drowning in them. Knowing that the highs will pass so savouring every moment.

So if you have a hard time ‘trying to be positive’ know that you are not alone. Perhaps chasing positivity is a way of trying to avoid difficult negative emotions. If that’s the case, there is an alternative. Learning to respond flexibly to the full spectrum of human emotion. If this sounds like you, let’s talk about it.

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