Facts & Fictions in Mental Health: Can Positive Thinking Be Negative?; May / June 2011; Scientific American Mind; by Scott O. Lilienfeld; Hal Arkowitz; 2 Page(s)
“Accentuate the positive,” the 1944 song by Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen cheerfully implored us. From Benjamin Franklin’s 1750 Poor Richard’s Almanack (which advised readers that “sorrow is good for nothing but sin”) to today’s parade of motivational speakers, Americans have long embraced an optimistic, “can-do” attitude toward life. Plug “positive thinking” into Amazon.com, and you will find a never-ending supply of products designed to help us see life through rose-colored lenses, including a “Power of Positive Thinking” wall calendar and an “Overcoming Adversity with Encouragement and Affirmation” poster series.
In fact, however, positivity is not all it is cracked up to be. Although having an upbeat attitude undoubtedly has its benefits, gains such as better health and wealth from high spirits remain largely undemonstrated. What is more, research suggests that optimism can be detrimental under certain circumstances.